More on the new general licences for England

Jackdaw – it will not be legal to kill Jackdaws in England from 1 January 2021 for so-called conservation purposes. Photo: Tim Melling

Farming Today has just covered the new general licences (9mins into programme). Heather Simons gave a good overview of the history and issues.

BASC were interviewed and apparently they love dialogue. This is quite a turnaround. In 2019 BASC welcomed the decision (of which we believe they were a part) to rescind the invitations to Wild Justice’s Chris Packham and Mark Avery to attend the Game Fair to answer questions on Wild Justice’s views (probably mostly on the general licences) when they didn’t seem at all interested in dialogue.

Also, BASC’s dialogue mostly consists of shouting from the wings. As far as general licences are concerned, BASC were adamant that DEFRA should reinstate the licensing situation that existed before the original Wild Justice successful legal challenge in spring 2019 – see here – and yet bit by bit, and rather slowly, between them Natural England and DEFRA have moved away from that position to a new one which is better but far from perfect. BASC are now trying to put a brave face on things and say that nothing much has changed – well it clearly has – see yesterday’s Wild Justice blog.

But BASC seem to have been told, ahead of any announcement so BASC have announced it for DEFRA, that these general icences will apply to protected sites too in future. We’ll see.

BASC haven’t quite got it yet – where ‘it’ is what the law says. It isn’t ‘good practice’ to consider non-lethal alternatives to killing wild birds, it is a prerequisite of the killing being legal. And Wild Justice says that it is the licensing authority which must do that consideration and clearly set out the circumstances under which the licences would be legal. That forms part of the Wild Justice legal challenge of the Welsh licences which will take place in mid-December and which will have implications, depending on the outcome, for these new English licences.

BASC thinks gamekeepers are very busy people and seem to be encouraging them not to bother to keep records of the birds they shoot and the circumstances in which they shoot them. DEFRA should have insisted on record keeping being a condition of the licences.

BASC have to attempt to put a brave face on things – after all they have set up a 7-figure fighting fund to stop all these things from happening and to fight (not have dialogue with) the UK’s smallest wildlife NGO, Wild Justice. And they aren’t making any difference as far as we can see.

Wild Justice, all three of us Ruth, Chris and myself, had a chat with the DEFRA team yesterday afternoon, as will, separately, many others no doubt.

We asked DEFRA some questions and we will be interested to hear their answers;

  • how will the new general licences be monitored? We suspect the answer is that they won’t be in any meaningful sense (so, no change there). How can you monitor who is using these general licences, against which species, in which locations, at what times of year and to kill what number of birds (of each species)?
  • and with no monitoring how can the law be enforced?
  • can a farmer shoot a Woodpigeon in September (or a Jay in November) and rely on the defence that he (or she) was protecting oil seed rape that won’t be sown until spring (or to protect a Spotted Flycatcher’s young when the Spotted Flycatcher happens to be in the Sahel area of Africa)?
  • what is the status of non-native gamebirds once they are released into the countryside? Wild birds or livestock?
  • will the last bits of the licensing system which have not yet been announced, include provisions for the tagging of cage traps, as in Scotland, so that the operators of such traps can be identified in the event of any misdemeanours?

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61 Replies to “More on the new general licences for England”

  1. Just to say what a really great job Wild Justice is doing. You are “hitting all the right nails on the head” it is so good to see that the shooters, very nearly all of which like to kill our wild life for fun, are no longer having things all their own way.
    Great credit must go to the three stalwarts of Wild Justice.

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  2. As you say, the key is compliance. How will the conditions of the new licences be enforced? The signs are not good. Anecdotally, amongst gamekeeepers, knowledge of the conditions of the previous GLs was poor. And today, in the Guardian, there is a report which makes grim reading (link below). The headline says it all: “Natural England 'cut to the bone' and unable to protect wildlife, say staff”.

    It is a basic principle of government that steps are taken to evaluate the effects of new statutes. If there is to be no enforcement and no monitoring, how will this be achieved?

    If NE is to be fulfil its role it needs to be properly funded. One way of doing this without further burdening the taxpayer is to charge the beneficiaries. Levying individual charges would be possible if these were specific licences but not with GLs. But a levy on shotgun cartridges would. In the USA a similar scheme has been in place for decades.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/10/natural-england-cut-to-the-bone-and-unable-to-protect-wildlife-staff-claim-aoe?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other.

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    1. Alick - compliance is a big problem with the current licences. As you say, there is widespread lack of understanding of (or lack of resolution to comply with) the existing licences. I blame the shooting press for encouraging ignorance in their readership.

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      1. Yes, I agree. Articles in the Shooting Times and The Field with titles such as:
        ‘Rook shooting: why we need to our bit’
        ‘Whacking rooks for the barbecue’
        ‘11 things to do in the off season with your gun’
        These simply encourages shooting all year round and thus means pigeons, rooks, crows, etc. are prey whether the conditions of the relevant GL are met or not.

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  3. Mark what is your end game? Do you really want it to become to arduous, challenging, costly and risky to comply with the GL for crop protection that farmers no longer engage in doing so hence the wood pigeon population increases year-on-year resulting in crop yields falling, stressed farmers deciding it is not financially worth farming and selling up to build houses on their land, or camp sites.
    Wood pigeons are shot all year round generally the numbers shot are modest at any one time but cumulatively it controls the population, as shooting them when they have flocked up into hundreds and are causing serious crop damage to OSR for example is the hardest time to do so, hundreds of pairs of eyes looking for danger, one shot and they are gone to the next OSR field. Hence modest numbers are shot nationwide over stubble when they have not flocked up and far more easier to shoot, but guilty of serious crop damage?

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    1. John - no I don't. Thanks for the straw man. I guess you don't want unlimited killing of a wide range of species whether or not that killing will do anything to prevent serious damage to crops and livestock and whether or not it has any conservation benefit whatsoever?

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      1. No I don’t want unlimited killing of a wide range of species whether or not that killing will do anything to prevent serious damage to crops and livestock and whether or not it has any conservation benefit whatsoever? However I do want the ability of a farmer to protect his livelihood and others who livelihood depend on livestock to do likewise as they deem necessary.

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    2. I think there is a need for proper control of Woodpigeons (and Rabbits) in many areas at many times. But (I assume you are a shooting man?) you must admit most currently shot are by casual hobbyists, and that in most places at most times there is no strategic approach - it is motivated mainly by opportunism and sport. I would say lets get a few lazy arses of their Pegs shooting tame Pheasants, and instead shooting Pigeons and Rabbits as part of organised control might be more useful if planned properly.

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      1. Crop protection of wood pigeons is done all year round yes in a large part by your words casual hobbyists, people with the skill and equipment to get the task done, unpaid by the farmer but working with the farmer. Farmers generally speaking have enough to do without wanting to learn how to shoot. So it is to mutual benefit, if you want the farmer to start paying for crop protection that I bet that would not come cheap so expect that cost to be passed on via the price the food they produce.
        Re strategic approach, you cannot shoot what is not their and even then their are no guarantees, it not like a game shoot where the birds are reared and then driven to the guns.

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        1. From one of several commercial sites offering wood pigeon shooting days:
          "The Woodpigeon is quickly proving itself to be the ultimate sporting quarry. Fast flying, sharp eyed, completely unpredictable, and totally wild, the Pigeon is sure to thoroughly test your shooting and hunting skills to the limit! Often referred to as the 'poor mans grouse', there is certainly nothing poor about the sport that this bird has to offer!"

          Sounds like crop protection to me... errr

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          1. That control of the wood pigeon population needs to be undertaken is beyond any sensible argument. It can still be enjoyable and regarded by participants as a sport without diminishing its efficacy. You might not want to do it but that is not the point as no one is forcing you to. The protection of crops does not need to be undertaken by someone weeping at the slaughter. Oh and waiting until the crops have matured before culling woodpigeon is leaving it too late. All that shooting over crops does is push the birds on to a field that is not being protected i.e. simply moving the damage to another parish. True crop protection is only achieved by reducing the population and the truth is that this is a year round task.

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  4. This is all great news, though improvements still needed as you say. On BAS(not C). It reminds me of the old thing Gandhi supposed to have said. 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.' I've always thought people should add on the end 'and then they try to pretend they agreed with you all along, to save face'.
    (No doubt there will be a few brain-addled out there ready to hit the 'dislike' button in response to this too.)

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  5. This is all good news but without records of what has been killed and why how can the system be monitored as working or not?

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      1. Just reflecting - Section 3 of Article 9 of the 1979 Directive (on derogations etc) required that each year the Member States shall send a report to the Commission on the implementation of paragraphs 1 and 2. Whether or not the UK's reports over the years would now be judged sufficient (in hindsight) - and assuming this requirement is now carried over into domestic law - surely the principle of accountability (being able to make a report i.e. say what happened as the result of derogations) is established? Bit tricky if you haven't a clue?

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          1. The requirement on member states is supposed to be carried over at the end of the transition period - as was explained?

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  6. Re Record keeping of birds killed. There is a GPS thing called "TrackPlot" already used by several Estates to meet H&S requirements about lone working in remote places. No big leap for a keeper to tick a box on this type of App each time he bumps off a Crow, for example. DEFRA could easily maintain a paper-free database of species, times, locations. Of course, it will need the honesty that Estates and keepers are known for...

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  7. Re monitoring. Once self-regulation is proven to have failed, then bring in a Shooting Licence much along the lines of anglers and their Rod Licence, paid to Environment Agency. They employ Water Bailiff's to go about checking your tackle is legal, numbers of fish you have, etc is within the rules, take legal action against non-compliance. This exists for fish, why not for birds and mammals?

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    1. Many if not most keepers are expected, certainly on grouse moors with which I am more familiar to keep a " Vermin Book." It is hardly a difficult task to transfer this to some sort of official recording system, although they will have to remember to exclude the things that they are required to kill but which are illegal!

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      1. I hear you Paul, my thinking is if a keeper is required to tap it into his App in approx "real-time", say by lunch-time after his morning round he enters "2 crows, 1 stoat, at xyz- location" . If his vehicle is later stopped by the DEFRA "bailiff" (see above) and he has all sorts of other stuff in the back not entered on the App, he can be fined. Also he must keep the corpses and dump them in a special bin (like clinical waste/abbatoir type, that the Estate is obliged to maintain) that could also be spot-checked by DEFRA. Vermin Books/Diaries...I read one from the late 80's (keeper now passed away) that would make a few eyes water on here. For any doubters about the use of tech, grouse keepers already have GPS/Apps to hand for spacing out grit trays and planning burning.

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  8. Many will have slept soundly last night, knowing the Jay, that Arch-Predator of Tawny Owls, will
    continue to gain no respite, year round, from trap or gun.
    Scaring Jay's away from woodland being largely ineffective, and exclusion cages around owl nests being successful in excluding only owls, lethal means are permitted.
    Larsen traps can be a draw for Jay's (once you have a decoy look after it, they are worth their weight), although a real nuisance for keepers, in my experience anyway, can be their almost magnetic attraction for Goshawks, especially juveniles, this can seriously interfere with Jay control, and is most disheartening.
    So apart from a chance shot as the keeper goes on his rounds, or the occasional bird bought to book on a Vermin drive, it is most often down to the participants on a driven day, keeping the barrels warm in between Pheasants, as a Jay, with its weak flapping flight tries vainly to gain height as it crosses the gun line, although in fairness i have seen some remarkably high ones killed.
    The bird can then be examined, its plumage admired ( it being a pity so beautiful a bird is as destructive as it is), and entered in the game book under "Various".

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    1. So Jays have scientifically been proven to be a factor in the decline of Tawny Owls then? Funny I haven't read anywhere that this is the case and if it isn't an issue, why the concern to interfere in a natural ecological system?

      Or is it just that a point of view has been taken that a so called "nasty" species of bird or indeed animal is predating a so called "nice" species of bird/animal. In which case its a invalid view with no basis in science or fact.

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    2. Do jays predate tawny owls? Hearing how aggressive tawny owls can be in defence of their young this amazes me. Your comments on jays seems to run counter to what many naturalists who have studied the birds say.

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      1. I believe Trapit was being ironic! For me Jay should Not be on the list unless it is to protect Hawfinch nests or perhaps those Honey Buzzards and of course every shoot will have those!

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    1. John M - that's amazing! Thank you for your first comment here. Taking eggs is not sufficient justification though, is it? Which eggs are you most worried about, please?

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    2. And the biology of the bird thus robbed is designed to cope with this predation. There are very few species where this is a problem, Hawfinch is the only one that springs to mind as anywhere near relevant.

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    3. Jays will also take chicks and fledglings of several red/amber listed species. They certainly impact on turtle doves! It's also thought they impact on nightingales. I have watched how jays (often in pairs and silent) one high other low work a wood, hedge, bank or border predating nests many times. Worse in dry springs. they seem to hunt some areas at same time of day. Using sun and shadow and there fly/hop technique to see and flush birds maybe. Yes birds are designed to cope with this as Paul says. But when there numbers are low/endangered they need help. Or should we let them go? Why just hawfinches Paul? . . . . . .Great comments and real basic true facts on wood pigeons and controlling them John! Shame folk want to complicate it. We all had chance to supply information to DEFRA when asked. Shame folk still keeper and BASC bashing don't want to believe there are shooters/pest controllers/farmers that are also conservationists

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      1. Because Hawfinches are the ONLY species that science suggests MAY be affected by Jays nest raiding. there is no evidence that jays have any effect on the long term populations of ANY other species. We need to get away from the idea that there are Good and bad amongst bird species , they do what nature intended for them. There is almost NO EVIDENCE that egg predation by Jays, Jackdaws or Magpies is a problem for ALL other red, amber or for that matter green listed species at population level, in other words it makes no difference to the number of those birds. So all the so called killing of these birds for conservation purposes is POINTLESS and should not be allowed.

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        1. Paul, “So all the so called killing of these birds for conservation purposes is POINTLESS and should not be allowed.”
          Is that possibly due to the fact that jays, jackdaws and magpies numbers have been controlled for decades, remove that control and eventually as the number of them potentially significantly increase, will that then not have a negative impact on conservation of other species?

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          1. John - so your claim is that the population levels of these three corvids are controlled by culling under the general licences? Just lay out the science behind that claim please. And you'll find that the licensing authorities actually make the opposite claim - the status of the 'pest' species remain unaffected.

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        2. Interesting. And i would love to see a balance restored! So are you saying the pest control carried out by the R.S.P.B (no doubt backed by science and constant monitoring) is wrong unnecessary and should stop Paul? I know if we stopped pest control that would be turtle doves gone. R.S.P.B monitor and BTO ring on two of those farms/shoots. No more sat tags. No more data for them. I think the tree sparrows, nightingales and skylarks would go as well. Others would struggle to. I have seen it happen on ground i have lost or has changed hands. Some of us put in a lot of effort for free to help many threatened species. Some carrying on the work their grandfathers started. Should we just let them go?? I can wake up and go to bed listening to turtle doves and nightingales knowing i am part of there success. None of the species you mentioned will ever be endangered. They far to clever and adaptable. Should we stop supplementary feeding to? if shooting stopped numbers of farm land birds would collapse, Fact! . . . . .Wild grey partridges and pheasants done really well this year. More partridges then i have seen for many years. Early broods of both done really well. Some how connected to an explosion in rabbit population (recovery from RHD) locally. Taking predator pressure off them especially from buzzards. Be interesting to study going forward as we had never had such a big collapse in the rabbit population from RHD before.

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          1. Steve - remember the RSPB don't control Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie or Jay for conservation purposes - only Carrion Crow under the general licences (and probably some hooded Crows in Scotland and/or Northern Ireland).

            I love it when people go 'Fact!' especially after the most speculative of surmises.

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          2. Just because you kill these birds doe not mean that is the reason you still have both Turtle Dove and Nightingale, as I say there is absolutely NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE for what you claim. Supplementary feeding is probably far more important for your Turtle Doves. As for Grey Partridges all research shows that their major breeding season predator is the Fox and not corvids, Pheasants are non-native and irrelevant to this discussion. All evidence suggests that modern farming methods are a problem for Skylark and Tree Sparrow and again none for excessive predation by corvids or for that matter anything, again certainly for Tree Sparrows supplementary feeding works , replacing the seed that has been lost through agricultural change. Control of predators under a GL should be entirely science not prejudice based and for Jay, Jackdaw and Magpie there is no such evidence.

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      2. Yes there are BASC members who are conservationists or at least take a broader interest and practical approach to helping a variety of wildlife and habitats, not just shooting related. But tell me honestly if overnight the "S" didn't exist and it had no concern with shooting, how many BASC members would decline their renewal? I have a figure in my mind of about 75% (for background, I was also a BASC member for 15 odd years.)

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    4. Thanks for that revelation, John. It really puts in to perspective the ‘concern’ you showed in previous posts.

      Where are you going with this? Do you think that’s abnormal?

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  9. John - so your claim is that the population levels of these three corvids are controlled by culling under the general licences? Just lay out the science behind that claim please. And you'll find that the licensing authorities actually make the opposite claim - the status of the 'pest' species remain unaffected.

    Mark, not my area of science or expertise to be able to lay out the science but does not logic suggest that for generations shooting of jays , jackdaws and magpies will have reduced or checked their population and the consequence of not doing so must in time allow for a significant increase in their population.

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    1. Simple Answer No! because not enough have been killed in any one year! you need to try and get an understanding of ecology John. Try finding " Why big Fierce animals are rare" by Paul Colinvaux easily found 2nd hand via the internet.
      Its a bit like " pigeon control" which isn't, it just moves birds or thins them locally to make any long term difference you would need to kill 80% of the population between breeding seasons. That of course is neither possible or desirable from all sorts of points of view.

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      1. No! because not enough have been killed in any one year!
        And you know that how, given no data is collected or reported back.?

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    2. “Mark, not my area of science or expertise to be able to lay out the science“

      It’s a good job we already have the science, then, isn’t it? I don’t suppose you read the empirical research regarding magpies, for example, which showed no link whatsoever between song bird decline and their presence? This research was based on decades’ worth of evidence, so it’s time you stopped pretending you have any concern whatsoever about the plight of song birds; you simply want to continue killing native birds because you think it’s your divine right to do so. Let me guess, you also shoot?

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      1. Holly sorry to disappoint you but I do not shoot magpies, however I do see far more of them and rooks (which I also do not shoot) then I ever used to, as for concerns of song birds I like to think I do my bit by regularly feeding those that visit my garden and chasing away the domestic cats, but I guess you will tell me their is a empirical research that shows domestic cats don’t kill song birds.

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        1. It’s interesting how quickly you pivoted away from magpies on to cats, because you realised your bluff had been called. Just to reiterate, your anecdotal sightings of magpies have absolutely no relevance to the debate whatsoever, when we already have empirical evidence from BTO which shows there is no link between their numbers and song bird declines.

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  10. John, I know your query is addressed to Mark. But to offer my opinion as to the "logic" you mention...I have often followed your trail of thought but overall, down the years I have concluded that pest/predator control that is done ad-hoc by hobbyists in a casual way more as weekend sport, has no real impact to check populations of say, Jays or Rooks. To be effective it needs to be systematic, organised and relentless and occur over tens of thousands of acres with the same commitment at the same time...for example pick any of the big areas of multiple connected grouse moors e.g Swaledale - Teesdale, etc.

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  11. "not my area of science or expertise to be able to lay out the science but..."(sic)

    In other words, I've no evidence at all to support my ill-informed statements, which are based on a pitiful understanding of the subject matter as a whole. But, like so many proponents of killing for amusement, I'll continue to hide behind a bogus conservation motive.

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    1. I bases my observation on real world experience, I do not shoot jays, rooks, crows, jackdaws, magpies, I limit my shooting to wood pigeons, when requested to do so by a farmer trying to make a living.
      Witnessed the killing of lambs by foxes and corvids, or reduced crop yield due to pigeon damage, which are not just numbers on a fancy scientific spread sheet but is loss of income from the livelihood of these farmers, farms that need to survive as they create jobs and food or would you sooner we just import all our food?
      Have you ever wondered why on average one farmer a week committed suicide in the U.K.? Obviously not an easy occupation to be in.

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      1. "I bases (sic) my observation on real world experience, I do not shoot jays, rooks, crows, jackdaws, magpies..."

        Yet your conclusions are a product of sheer fantasy.

        "fancy scientific spread sheet..."

        Of course, you don't need no book learnin'!

        "Have you ever wondered why on average one farmer a week committed suicide in the U.K.? (sic)

        Such data can frequently be found in "fancy scientific spread sheets", but has bugger all to do with birds.

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  12. Thanks for pointing out mine and other's failings Paul and Mark. I had no idea i had been getting it so wrong all these years. I guess my and others year on year successes helping threatened species was just luck? Could of had the same results by doing nothing? Amazing! Does that mean the "science" is wrong and flawed? R.S.P.B BTO WT have been using data from tagging, ringing and monitoring on some of our sites that are shoots and carry out pest control for years without acknowledging it in the data. What i do comes from years of on the ground practioner based evidence fieldcraft and observation. Targeted pest control works! I stand by that and it's what i and others fed in to the consultation when asked. . . . .Shouldn't we bother controlling foxes, squirrels and mink either? . . . .I used to be a member of RSPB and YOC. Left when they lost there way a few years back like many others did. Used to have some great conversations and find middle ground about about shooting and conservation. Still do with some. Shame they don't listen to field staff or members . . . . Interesting that they had a pheasant in there early symbol and the women that founded it (fur and feather gals) wore pheasant feathers in there hats.

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    1. Your posts is one long appeal to tradition, without any evidence to back it up. You mentioned your grandfather earlier; of what relevance does past practice have to what we currently do, when we’ve moved on in many areas throughout society? Your attitude is that the status quo should not be challenged, on the basis of nothing but your own anecdotal experience, which is clearly biased on account of your vested interest in the matter. We’ve heard all of your arguments before and the typical RSPB bashing, which only highlights how completely out of touch you are both with the science surrounding these matters and the general sentiment of the public.

      People will find all manner of justifications to confirm their own bias - you still hear these myths from fox hunters - but they are just that; myths.

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      1. Wow! Well you certainly put me in my place Holly. You could not be more wrong though! My evidence is practioner based. Instinctive knowledge and intuition. From a life time of study observation and fieldcraft. Doing shooting, fishing, wildlife photography, targeted pest control hands on conservation and habitat management. What do you do/ have done to judge me so? You say tradition? Is having an interest/passion and respect for the history and the pioneers of shooting and conservation wrong. I have huge respect for the strong women that started the RSPB and the like of E L Turner who along with Keepers/marshmen Vincent and Nudd done so much for wildlife and habitat conservation. I like others just don't like the corporate top heavy money spinning org the RSPB has become to day. I have friends who are members and staff. My father and grandfather were both sort out for there knowledge of the natural world, skills and forward thinking. Others purchased land recognising it's conservation worth. Not many farmers were doing that back then. I look forward to see how the new farming/conservation schemes (trialed locally) work out. How min till and changes in crops and cropping chemical use is changing/ helping different species. Some of the comments on here show some folk against us still have very limited knowledge of shooting, pest control or behaviour of the species involved. Including pheasants! . . . . . Not shooting enough pest species to make a difference? Would have to shoot 80% of the pigeon population a year to make a difference? Really!? Where is the science/figures? Makes ya wonder why WJ are bothering and wasting money challenging the GL's? . . . . Should we also take down all the owl and kestrel boxes to? Don't want to be accused of attracting more predators and them nasty raptors do we. Sadly what i do to help endangered species/wildlife goes unrecorded. And i have tried! Why? Because i don't own any of the land (would do so much more if i did) i do it on. It involves shooting, thinking outside the box, It's not in any scheme so there is no money, grants or glory in it for any orgs. I ask again. Should we stop? Do nothing like so many others? Let the threatened species we helping go, die out?
        To please who?
        I am not prejudice! I like wood pigeons. They taste nice!

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        1. Steve, to me that sounded like an angry fusillade from those dreadful 8-shot Benelli's the macho keepers use these days, not the thoughts of a wise countryman.

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          1. All the inconsequential waffle in the world can't hide the fact that Steve is unable to come up with one iota of evidence to support claims that predation has driven UK declines in Turtle Dove or Nightingale. Therefore, his activities are as bad (if not worse) than "doing nothing" to address the issue, and all his posturing and protestations exacerbate the problem by diverting attention from the true factors behind these declines.
            The fact, once again, is that he's simply indulging in his hobby under the delusion/pretence that it's "conservation".

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        2. “Instinctive knowledge and intuition”

          Instead of writing that wall of erroneous waffle, you should have just said “I don’t believe the science, only my own bias” and called it a day. No doubt you consider yourself a custodian of the countryside, but given our sorry state of nature, you’d be sacked in any other profession for gross negligence. Perhaps it’s time for some self reflection, instead of making a fool of yourself by ranting at organisations who are actually trying to change things for the better.

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  13. Spaghnum Morose. . . .You must know some VERY strange keepers? Village people (the band) comes to mind. Your not a benelli agent are you? . . . . Countryman? Yes."Toff" i aint! Wise??Mmmm. Probably more a fool for giving a shit to be honest! Angry? No. Just blunt! We all care about the natural world! Don't we? More frustrated at know nothings, do nothings banging on with miss information. The widening division, disconnect and chosen blinkered wilful ignorance by some folk. On both sides!! I don't blame farmers. They really up against it at the mo. . . . . . . . Thanks Coop!. . . . Interesting observations and comments. . . I haven't said predation is THE reason (there are many) for declines of turtle doves, nightingale or any species especially migrants. But targeted pest control along with supplementary feeding, correct habitat (scrub up) and good deer management is really working in helping them and many other species recover. As i have said RSPB BTO have data off local farms/shoots. From sat tagging and ringing, proving successes. 12 years plus and ringing (even crows) over 30,000 plus birds on one site. Is that that science enough for you? Look it up. Turtle Doves Suffolk, Brewery farm, Working Conservationists( in GWCT mag). Some of you might know him as is adviser on TD's? If only there were more like him and farms like his. Not Tradition! That's 3 generations of forward thinking farm/shoot conservation working for all wildlife. . . . When i first saw sat tag on one of the turtle doves i was not sure it was right? Catching, Tagging an adult in the breeding season when there are so few and how long it took to fit? Taking one for the team i guess? Same with ringing? Up to 5 pairs breeding successfully, year on year and second broods on 200 acres gota be good!? I was just saying what i do on other farms/sites nearby helping TD's (similar successes) and other species goes unrecorded. Does that make the science flawed? In a positive way? As there are greater numbers than recorded and targeted pest control is part of any success. All helped by the joined up thinking and efforts of many. Take that away Out of the first 12 TD's that were sat tagged a while back, 6 didn't make it out of Norfolk. Predation! Not publicised. Why not? . . . . . A hobby for some is a way of life for others Coop! . . . Is this "hobbyist" word being used lately the latest put down? . . . .Coop, what do you do hands on for conservation?
    Mark, fill ya feeders up! Recommend "No Waste" quality feed (TD's also like it) from Charnwood Milling Co (no connection) if you can find it. Less than £20.00 for 20kg. Discount for bulk order.10 bags plus. . . .
    Get some ivy on your fence. Very underrated for many species! Loads of insects on mine today. . . . Sorry to waffle on.

    Woodcock have turned up! Rough weather on way? Seen 2 today and others have reported seen them. Same sites. No they wont get shot. Anyone else seen them?

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    1. As a former Countryside Ranger I did my fair share. That fact is, however, irrelevant. It really doesn't matter what I have or haven't done, and I don't need to indulge in long-winded, self-righteous rants in order to justify my actions.

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    2. Steve, if you are not angry now I wouldn't want to be around when you are - you are now loosing rounds off like a Minigun. But there is no point in slapping each other, on another day with a following wind there is every chance we can both educate ourselves together. You are blamelessly ignorant ss to what upland keepering has turned into (re. 8-shot autos ), but then again I know zero on Turtle Doves and wildlife in Suffolk! This is my olive branch...lets speak again on a different thread.

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      1. Spaghnum Morose, Olive branch accepted. Not angry just blunt and frustrated. Been told i am more feral than fluffy. The building of Sizewell C Power Station make me really bloody angry!!!! Local to me. Shame the same effort going in to taking shooting down is not going into stopping it!? Had to believe really! To late now i think!? Visit Minsmere before they start. . . . . You said you were a BASC member? Do you/did you shoot? Why they using 8 shot autos? Front heavy and unbalanced guns to be lugging around a moor and require a FAC. Hardly macho as look no different to a normal 3 shot from a distance. Just longer mag tube, making them look like an over and under but much heavier. I use a 3 shot auto for pigeon shooting, as it the right tool for the job and easy on the shoulder. I find by time you may need/get onto a 3rd shot the quarry is out of range anyway. Can't think why they would need 8?

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  14. The way I think of shooting these days (as represented by BASC, Shooting Gazette and even the Shooting Times which I was very fond of), is a bit like that line from Moxey in "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" that went something like, "When you're in the bog the smell of shit isn't so bad. But if you come out and then go back in again it really stinks." But I also know there are a lot of good people who shoot, and who also do a lot of wider good for wildlife and habitat. I just think that their best work is likely done with the habitat - when the gun is left back in it's cabinet, the traps are going rusty behind the shed and the snares are in the bin. I am not out to give all shooting folk and all keepers a slap - although I do struggle to think of any Sporting Agents and any big Estate's that I wouldn't like to see in Court facing up to what they have done. For years I have wished for the everyday man who does a bit of shooting to break away from the "industry" which to me is thoroughly rotten beyond repair. For a clue about the use of 8-shots (and at the very least 5-shots) and why they are deemed necessary to most upland keepers, check out the RSPB on YouTube - in particular look out for the vehicle contents of the stereotypical grouse keeper who gets caught shooting SEO's. Anyway, as said previously, hope to see you on another thread...

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