Another conversation with BASC members

It was the Sunday morning after the Friday evening about which I have already written. And when I say it was the Sunday morning it most certainly was but it was closer to the coming breakfast than the past supper and I was just leaving the bar of a Buxton Hotel, after plotting the downfall of driven grouse shooting with others, when a couple of blokes at the bar very politely asked me whether I was Mark Avery. I couldn’t deny it and that’s how I ended up getting to bed at 0430 but having a good chat with two shooters (and BASC members).

We mostly talked about the general licences and we ended up strking a deal over which species of corvid should come off and which might stay on. I won’t disclose the details of our pretend deal in that hotel as I was rather generous – probably because I wanted to go to bed!

But it was a good chat, and they were nice people, and perfectly sociable and polite and good company.

I mention this only because I don’t recall ever running from a discussion of conservation issues in which I am involved, from anyone, but also because it is easier to see the other’s point of view, and to understand it better, even if not agreeing with it, when face to face.

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18 Replies to “Another conversation with BASC members”

  1. There is a lot of enthusiasm, in the shooting world, for reforming the general licences.
    If you had only reached out ,to your contacts there, a collaborative approach could have prevented the polarisation of the countryside.

  2. ...and in that short post you’ve said a lot about our human predicament and the relations we have with our fellows.

  3. Did you hear the interview on Farming Today with BASC ? think the person interviewed was with their chair lady or equivalent. Typically one sided and therefore biased BBC. There was no one to put the conservation point of view, such as, the shooters are killing thousands of mountain hares and the questioner asked rather week and unpenetrating questions. The result was that the BASC chair lady was able to put so much “spin” on all her answers that it made me rather sick and certainly spoilt my breakfast.
    When will the BBC come out of the pocket of this Government and it’s vested interests and present an honest, unbiased and balanced programme

    1. That makes a change most shooters know that the BBC are biased against shooting like interviewing only Chris P and shutting the door on the BASC spokesperson. I think you will find the BBC has given much more air time against shooting than it has for, after all CP has their ear.
      But not nice is it, when it happens.

      1. Utter nonsense. Shooting organisations have almost completely uncontested access to substantial portions of programs like Countryfile, where they are able to regurgitate ecological nonsense about ‘vermin control’ without being questioned. The General License is an abject failure, mainly because shooters have been able to kill anything contained on the list with utter impunity and without even the slightest effort to explore non lethal means. The fact that you’d class that wildlife as ‘bad’, like many of the people who were up in arms about it, is entirely irrelevant.

        1. What rubbish one farm I shot over spends around ten thousand pounds a year on non lethal measures to protect the crop of lettuce so that you can enjoy your salad, and yes shooting is used to compliment the non lethal methods.
          Non lethal methods are used more than shooting as they are in place when shooters are not, ask any farmer how much he spends on such equipment protecting his crops and replacing it when some nice person steals it.
          Why would a farmer not want to use ALL methods at their disposal to maximise his profit after all it is a business not a hobby.

      2. 'I think you will find the BBC has given much more air time against shooting than it has for'.
        Can you give even one example of anti-shooting? And i don't mean reporting raptor crimes unless you think crimes are pro-shooting.

      3. Really John? I have heard many comments from spokesman for the BASC, GWCT, Moorland Association, Countryside Alliance on the BBC, mostly spouting utter nonsense, half truths and lies.

        These organisations do not help themselves in other ways either.
        The BASC even has a so called policy on overturning the hunting ban, why? There is no doubt that whatever others may think there is a need for properly targeted and humane methods to control pest species, but hunting with dogs for "sport" cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as that.

        Now if those who shoot and the organisations that purport to represent them, were seen to be taking the initiative to stop the illegal killing of Raptors and other species, then maybe we would be half way to resolving the issue.

        Regrettably the current refusal to acknowledge that there is a widespread problem of illegality (its a few "bad apples" apparently) and offering no solution to resolving it, means that shooters are playing directly into the hands of those who seem to think that nobody should kill anything, anywhere, anytime.

        Now it maybe that the silent majority in the shooting fraternity are not in agreement with these responses by the organisations that supposedly represent them, but to date they haven't actually done much to show this.

        What is required is a lot more transparency, a lot more action rather than weasel words, a recognition that if its just a few "bad apples" then they are the very people who could weed the majority of these out.

        Instead we get organisations and others paying for the lawyers to get those "bad apples" off on the rare occasions they are actually charged with the crimes they commit.

        I'm not against shooting where it is conducted legally, but if shooters don't realise that change is coming and adapt accordingly, then they will find the change is not to their liking.

        Then they will have nobody to blame but themselves.

        1. Mathew, re BASC and hunting with dogs I guess you would need to ask them that question. My view is it is an unnecessary
          method of controlling fox numbers but then again so is the anti, faced covered trying to stop a legal activity or destroying pheasant rearing pens or disrupting a shoot.
          But then as you keep telling us, you need to get your act together and stop these rotten apples from doing so.
          But far easier to say than do and that is the difficulty the shooting industry faces.

          1. John, I am not in favour of the more extreme elements who undertake illegal harassment of anyone undertaking a legal activity.

            However I do have sympathy with the frustration of those who see illegal and criminal acts going unpunished and organisations who supposedly support and speak on behalf of the shooting fraternity, either ignoring the illegal activity, saying they deplore it whilst helping the perpetrators and it seems providing and funding legal support for those charged with crimes.

            There must be (indeed I know there are because I've met them) many people who shoot that are equally interested in conserving wildlife, I don't see the two as being mutually incompatible, I'm sure that will raise hackles in certain circles, but the reality is that even if as some may wish shooting was banned, there would still be a need for effective pest control and controlled culls to limit populations.

            However, what I'm asking is where are the voices of these people? Why are they not seeking to agree a compromise, a middle way in which the criminal element has no refuge, at the moment, this inactivity and failure to speak out at best provides cover and support for those committing crimes and at worst encourages them to continue.

            You say its easier said than done to weed out the "bad apples", yet these people do not act in isolation, their activities are known. I don't shoot, and mix infrequently with those that do, yet I am aware of both leisure shooters and gamekeepers who rumour has it have little regard for the law. Thats from the mouths of people within the shooting fraternity, so more could and should be done to at least identify these people.

            Turning a blind eye or labeling all who oppose wildlife crime as extremists plays into the hands of those who take an extreme view.

    2. I think the answer to your question Alan is when we complain enough and insist upon it. It is remarkable that whenever somebody from "our" side is interviewed about wildlife crime on grouse moors be that individual crimes or general, there is always somebody from the Moorland Assoc. ,SLE, BASC, GWCT or a representative of the keepering organisations on as well. I once asked a BBC researcher why when talking about wildlife crime this is necessary, as essentially, whether they like it or not, the above are acting as apologists for criminality, it doesn't happen with any other sort of crime.
      Whether we are talking about general licences, conservation of raptors on grouse moors or one of my pet hates, released game birds, talking face to face at least enables a frank friendly exchange of views. In my experience such conversations only rarely echo the extremes shown by the organisations of which such folk are usually members. I'm sure there are many members of GWCT or BASC etc that cringe as much as we do at the spun utterances of Gilruth, Thomas or Anderson.

      1. I don’t think they do cringe, because there is an ignorant and selfish culture that festers deep within the shooting industry. You see it time and time again; “If they ban driven grouse shooting, they’ll come for fishing next”. If there are so many ‘moderates’, why are they not making their voices heard? I’m afraid it’s a demographic which doesn’t exist, or exists in very small numbers. They have been spoiled with an almost complete lack of regulation for far too long, which is why even the hint of a licensing system incenses them so much.

      2. If I read what you are saying correctly it is that representatives of a community accused of criminality should not be allowed to defend themselves against such accusations as doing so amounts to being apologists for the criminality they are accused of.

      3. "it doesn't happen with any other sort of crime" that may be because generally people don't use particular crimes to tar communities of people. I'm sure for example if knife crime were blamed on black people as a whole you would get members of ethnic communities allowed to defend their communities - and moreover if people then said that by doing so they were 'apologists' for knife crime - such people would be called out for what they would be - bigots.

        1. It is the shooting industry which is being ‘tarred’, not shooting itself, and the industry has a collective responsibility for the fact of its systemic criminality and its failure to self regulate.

          1. Oh if only life was that simple, BREXIT would have happened by now, so what does self regulation look like?

        2. Perhaps then those law abiding members of the shooting fraternity may wish to advise their representative organisations that their current PR spin, willful blindness and peddling of lies is unhelpful and it would be in the interests of the activity if they adopted a more positive, cooperative approach to weeding out these "few "bad apples"?

  4. I suppose the question is whether the shooting world will fracture under pressure or turn to pure crystalline denial. I certainly don't know the answer to that. But their representative organisations do their interests no favours. I was at an excellent, sold out, event on land reform in Scotland last week at which there was quite some discussion on grouse shooting. The Scottish Land & Estates person, Sarah-Jane Laing was hopelessly out of her depth, but dealt with that by hand-waving, evasion and half-truths. The audience may not have known which bits were lies, but she made no friends. By contrast, Andrew Thin, chair of the Scottish Land Commission, was wonderfully strong and clear, and very good news even if working for a conflicted government.


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