RSPB walks out of hen harrier ‘dialogue’

tec_logo_16271This isn’t especially new news, as it happened in the summer, but we were reminded of it today after reading something on Mark Avery’s blog – more on that later – and it does seem pertinent to blog about it now.

So, most readers will be aware of the Environment Council’s ‘Hen Harrier Dialogue’ – a process that started in 2006 that aimed to bring ‘stakeholders’ together to try and work out a way of resolving the hen harrier / grouse moor conflict in England (see here for website). Those stakeholders involved in these dialogue meetings included the usual suspects such as BASC, Countryside Alliance, Country Land and Business Association, GWCT, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, RSPB, Hawk & Owl Trust, Northern England Raptor Groups etc.

The ‘dialogue’ process has produced an awful lot of documents (and a lot of awful documents, see here) and meeting reports (see here), and a strong interest in pursuing a trial on a ‘quota system’ for hen harriers – a controversial idea spawned by Steve Redpath several years ago. In simplistic terms, this quota system would mean that grouse moor owners would ‘allow’ a certain number of breeding pairs (number yet to be established) and once a ‘ceiling’ had been reached, then they would be ‘allowed’ to remove harrier broods (non-lethally) to other parts of the UK away from grouse moors. This idea is still being discussed, although it brings with it obvious ethical and legal debates.

Hen harrier being removed from illegal trap on Moy EstateSome argue that conservation groups shouldn’t be sitting at the table with representatives from an industry that has been responsible for killing off England’s breeding hen harrier population. Others argue that the quota scheme may be the best way forward because at least there’d be some harriers, which is a better proposition than having none. Others have suggested that the quota system would never get off the ground anyway because the grouse moor owners would have to ‘allow’ a certain number of breeding hen harriers on their estates and they’ve shown themselves incapable of tolerating any.

Whatever your point of view, the bottom line is that six years on from the start of the dialogue process, and after all that talking over egg sandwiches and coffee, the English hen harrier breeding population has been reduced to one known pair. That’s it. Just the one pair. In a country that has suitable habitat to support over 300 breeding pairs.

This summer, the RSPB made a bold move and decided to walk away from the dialogue process. They said that as hen harriers have been systematically eradicated from English grouse moors then there was no longer any conflict and therefore no point in spending any more time talking about it. Instead, they intended to get on with their own plans for hen harrier recovery.

It’s not yet known what will happen to the Environment Council dialogue process now a major player has walked away. As far as we’re aware, there are still many questions about the lawfulness of the proposed trial quota scheme so it’s unclear whether attempts will still be made to push that through.

So what next for English hen harriers? After the recent sad story of the illegal shooting of Bowland Betty (see here), in addition to all the other horror stories we keep reading about from English and Scottish grouse moors (e.g. see here, here, here, herehere), is it time for a different approach? It’s obvious that the authorities can’t, or won’t deal with illegal persecution, and the grouse-shooting industry can’t, or won’t put a stop to it either. An alternative suggestion has been put forward by Mark Avery – unless things miraculously improve for breeding hen harriers in Northern England in 2013 then it will be time to start the campaign, on 12 August 2013, to end grouse shooting (see here for Mark’s blog).

Up until now we’d been supporters of the idea of estate-licensing schemes rather than an outright ban. Licensing seemed a fair and reasonable approach to regulate an industry so clearly incapable of expelling its criminal elements. But now?  The time for being reasonable has long since passed. Count us in, Mark.

For our anagram fans: Grouse moor – morgue or so


41 Responses to “RSPB walks out of hen harrier ‘dialogue’”

  1. 1 Pip
    December 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Not such a radical idea of Mark’s really – other blood sports have been banned (more or less) in the past when the public became unsympathetic to them and at the time no doubt there were protests from the proprietors of bull baiting pens or dog fighting pits that the a ban would cause the collapse of society, cast thousands into unemployment etc, etc. all of which is now forgotten – the recent ban on fox hunting doesn’t seem to have had a remarkable effect on the rural economies in ex hunting areas and these “sports” didn’t involve endangered species but were merely cruel and had a corrosive effect on the public psyche. Public opinion is really the only hope for any endangered species and if effectively mobilised – as in Tuna fishing, whaling, the fur trade and other assorted undertakings, then our elected representatives (ever mindful of their salaries and perks) will suddenly have a sea change in their attitudes and we’ll find out they were all conservationists all along!

  2. 2 bi
    December 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    As I said in my comment on Mark’s blog. This dialogue between conservation and moor managers is futile and addresses effort and resources in the wrong place. The argument is between a business which relies on lawbreaking in order to exist and the Settled Will of the People. There is no good reason, from the point of view of harrier conservation in engaging in this distraction. Its the long grass where politicians kick the subject. “Be good chaps and sort all this out yourselves” rather than providing law enforcement with the requisite tools.

  3. 3 Bimbling
    December 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    don’t know what happened there. The comment from bi is mine.

  4. 4 Chris Roberts
    December 12, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I am with Mark on this. Once the general public get behind the banning of Game shooting, like they did Fox hunting, it will only be a matter of time before this deplorable, so called sport, goes the same way. I would urge anyone who hasn’t seen it, to watch the League against cruel sports film ‘Gunsmoke and Mirrors’. No one with any decency could watch this, and still want to let this slaughter go unchecked.

  5. 5 dave dick
    December 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    At last…a sensible decision that doesn’t involve the endless continuation of stalling partnerships and protocols – there’s a few others which should have been walked away from a long time ago. Shame its taken the near extinction = an awful lot of killing, before someone decided enough was enough.

    Also good to see fellow bloggers beginning to wake up to the fact that compromise is not the way to deal with criminals. [What else do you call those who actively kill, or condone the killing of, legally protected wildlife?].

    Calling for a ban on all “blood sports” is not [in my opinion] achievable or even necessary to protect raptors but a ban on driven grouse shooting just might be.

  6. 6 Grouseman
    December 13, 2012 at 12:14 am

    A campaign to ban grouse shooting!? This clearly shows a deliberate targeted attack on shooting sports! For all who claim the RSPB is not anti shooting as it allows grouse shooting on one of their own reserves, don’t piss in my bucket and tell me it’s raining. It’s about time they came clean and admitted they want to see an end to game shooting for sport. They will not be happy until shooting is limited to deer and fox control.

    • 7 nirofo
      December 13, 2012 at 2:53 am

      Grouseman, for once I agree with you, a concerted attack on shooting sports is just what is needed to put a stop to this wanton illegal killing of our protected Raptors once and for all. It has gone on far too long and it’s now high time to put a stop to it. You call it a sport, I and many others call it perverted self gratification, how can it be called a sport where gangs of beaters with dogs drive flocks of terrified Red Grouse over a horde of waiting shotguns where they are blasted out of the sky in their hundreds if not thousands. Where is the skill in that, a similar fate awaits the Pheasants and Red-legged Partridge, difference here though, these birds are bred for the shoot and released semi tame in their millions to be driven once again over the waiting shotguns to be slaughtered in their thousands. You call it a sport, don’t make me laugh.

      • 8 Grouseman
        December 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm

        You obviously know very little about shooting because there is no way anyone could argue an October grouse swinging through a line of butts with a 40mph wind in its tail isn’t sporting!

        • 9 Ban the Burn
          December 14, 2012 at 7:14 am

          Football, athletics, cycling, tennis, rugby… those are sports. A fat banker driving his 4wheel drive to a moor and shooting a gun from a butt with a cup of tea, sorry that can never be called a ‘sport’.

  7. 10 nirofo
    December 13, 2012 at 2:36 am

    I agree a concerted campaign to ban Grouse shooting would not only benefit the Raptors but many other species of wildlife as well. Add to that no more heather burning, draining the moors or cutting down tree growth and who knows what flora and fauna would eventually return to the man made monocultural wilderness of Red Grouse moorland. How about managing the moorlands for wildlife, the keepers could then retrain on how to protect and encourage our valuable species to increase not slaughter them for personal gain. No need to lose their jobs just diversify into something beneficial to wildlife instead.

    • 11 dave dick
      December 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Have to disagree on one point here Nirofo…putting ex-keepers in charge of wildlife/upland management would be a very poor idea indeed. This would just perpetuate the anti-predator prejudice which is rife in that so-called profession – best to start with a clean sheet.”Putting a fox in charge of the hen house” comes to mind.

    • 12 Grouseman
      December 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      And who is going to pay for the same or a similar density of staff to manage the ground for non shooting interests? Grouse moors aren’t a monoculture the management benefits many other species. We have a very unique environment with managed grouse moors that cannot be found anywhere else in the world they should be protected and retained as such.

      • 13 sh23363
        December 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

        Who will pay for staff for non shooting interests? No one – we don’t need them. It’s called re-wilding. We need a new relationship with the natural world in which there is no place for gamekeepers.

        As for grouse moors being unique – quite true. If we were witness to such ecosystem degradation anywhere else in the world we would be highly critical of it. It is time to recognize heather moorland for what it is – a degraded ecosystem, founded on bankrupt land management policies in need of restoration.

        • 14 Grouseman
          December 14, 2012 at 7:35 am

          I was asking who was going to pay for the non shooting interests because Nirofo stated that keepers could be re-employed more as wildlife rangers there was no need for anyone to lose their jobs. That’s what needed me to beg the question who was going to pay for such employment. As for your attitude I just hope one day someone calls for an end to what you love and rely on for your livelihood.
          You are quite wrong about the land being degraded also. What you seem incapable of understanding is that controlled muirburn is carried out when the vegetation can be controlled so is not subject to hot burning. This will non destroy the underlying vegetation and simply encourages regrowrth. What is the alternative? No burning will lead to more wildfires taking place in tinderbox conditions and causing much more damage.

  8. 15 Stewart Love
    December 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

    A ban on Grouse Shooting, seems a great idea to me and may just make these so called sporting estates start to realize that they cannot continue killing rare Raptors and expect to get away with it. The Great British Public need to be told of all the Persecution that goes on. RSPB should start the ball rolling they have the clout to start to campaign and bring this to the attention of the Public.

  9. 16 dave dick
    December 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    The oft heard cry of “the RSPB is anti-shooting” has to be the most idiotic and self defeating response to a conflict situation I’ve ever seen in this country. It is the only conservation organisation which has written into its Charter that it should not become involved in disputes over blood sports – that has become watered down in favour of shooting in recent decades but the general principle stands…and yet it gets accused of being anti-shooting every time there is a disagreement.You dont know who your friends are!
    Most of us on this blog..and Mark Avery’s are calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting – which needs ludicrously artificial high levels of grouse produced by intensive burning and predator killing. Which in turn leads to the illegal killing of protected species. That is not calling for a ban on shooting grouse.

    • 17 Grouseman
      December 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm

      An organisation calling for an end to your livelihood, home and way of life with friends like that who needs enemies! Without intensive management there will be still be years when there is huge numbers of grouse if the cant be harvested by driving the population will become diseased and die. How is this better for them in any way? Walked up shooting cannot yield the number required to keep the stock healthy and sustainable.

      • 18 Dave Dick
        December 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

        I have never heard the RSPB “calling for an end to your livelihood, home and way of life..” and doubt if it ever will. The comments on here have nothing to do with RSPB policy, either past or present. Argue your corner by all means but do it from a factual viewpoint.

  10. 19 Merlin
    December 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Grouseman, the RSPB haven,t called for a ban, its a discssion on Mark Avery,s blog. Mark left the RSPB probably because he can do more for nature without being tied to society policies. why is it the victim card always comes out as the first line of defence. why is it you drag all other shooting sports in to the argument. Wildfowlers respect the law, they have codes of conduct and self regulations. spot checks on club members to make sure they,re not using lead. they must be sick and tired of driven shooters sending lead shot birds to market and continually bringing shooting into disrepute. why drag them into your arguement. please also educate me on the meaning of sporting? who defines bag size and which birds are sporting and which should be left, at what point does a good days bag turn into a slaughter, most sports have governing bodies that dictate these, why does driven shooting not, if you dont think you can answer these please lend me your bucket, its going to rain

    • 20 Grouseman
      December 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm

      When your home, income and way of life comes under constant attack and threat can anyone blame someone for becoming defensive. There is nothing wrong with fighting for what you believe in. To answer your question grouse shooting in general is very sporting you only have to see packs of grouse swinging through a line of butts with a wind behind them to see that. The size of bags will always vary from year to year depending on many factors and bag sizes do not need to be governed by an outside body it is dictated by the stock on the ground in any particular year with has been assessed per season by counting. No good manager is going to shoot too many and damage the breeding stock for the following year.

      • 21 nirofo
        December 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

        In order to reduce or perhaps even remove what you see as a threat to your home, your income and your way of life, wouldn’t it make sense to stop the wanton killing of our Raptors and stay within the law, we shouldn’t even be asking you to stay within the law, you should be doing that anyway. So, because the wind is behind the Grouse and they are swinging through a line of butts that makes it sporting does it. I would think that because they are terrified at the gangs of beaters and dogs behind them and the wind is forcing them over the butts to be blasted out of the sky by a load of shotguns makes it far from sporting, infact I think it’s rather pathetic that you think its’s sporting, most people would think it just wildlife slaughter. You’ve just said it yourself, grouse stocks are self regulating, that would mean that without the artificial management of the moorlands the birds would return to natural sustainable levels. Obviously you want artificial levels of Grouse to remain as high as possible, so in your eyes that means you have to eliminate the indigenous and legally protected Raptors from the moors. Only one answer, keep within the law and accept that Raptors will take some of your artificially high numbers of Grouse, or continue to receive more and more bad publicity for your chosen criminal activities which may eventually lead to the banning of Grouse shooting altogether.

        • 22 Chris Roberts
          December 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

          Well put nirofo, I was going to say something similar about staying within the law.

        • 23 Grouseman
          December 14, 2012 at 7:54 am

          You clearly know very little about the sport of shooting and have no interest in trying to learn or understand about it so there is no point in trying to convince you exactly how testing a sport it is. By using emotive language such as slaughter and blasted you are simply trying to stir up a reaction towards something you know very little about! Two slight problems I have with your posts? You talk about sustainable levels but for what? Enough to still provide some shooting and employment or just enough to stop them going extinct? What happens to the numbers when they crash due to disease and a huge level of predation stops them building up again and the numbers of grouse get lower, as does the numbers of raptors and other predators that depend on them?
          No one is denying there are certain levels of raptor killing to protect game but you, and many others on this blog, seem to imply that this is an easy option. Do you really think people would risk their jobs, families homes and shotgun and firearms certificates if they didn’t feel if was totally necessary to protect their existence? If raptors made an insignificant difference they would be left alone! The Langholm study showed exactly what happens when raptor numbers are unrestricted! There should be room for everyone’s interests in this country and by walking out of the hen harrier dialogue the RSPB has proved it doesn’t want any sort of balance or moderation, just everything their own way which is hardly forward looking. They can’t even look after the harriers on their own ground (ie Geltsdale!) so should be put an end to nature reserves too!

          • 24 Jimmy
            December 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm

            So your saying your business can’t exist without the routine killing of protected species to the point of extinction. Suggests you and your fellow travellers are on the same page as the the criminal syndicates behind the rhino horn, tiger bone etc. trade??

          • 25 Chris Roberts
            December 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm

            I believe Grouseman that your confession above, is the first time some one from your side, have admited something the rest of us know, that you do indeed carry out “certain levels of raptor killing to protect game”.

            They are not your birds to kill, they belong the nation. I keep pigeons, Perigrins and Sparrow Hawks take the odd one, but I would never kill said birds, they are not mine to do so. They are protected.

            There is no secret what side of all this that I am on, as I agree wholeheartedly with sh23363 (above) about re-wilding the moors and bringing them back to a more natural state. Maybe this would entail job loses, but this happens anytime something is closed (the mines) or outlawed ( bear bating, dog and cock fighting etc). Life still goes on.

            • 26 Grouseman
              December 14, 2012 at 5:29 pm

              I didn’t say for one second that wholesale persecution was going on simply that obviously some has taken place by certain people at certain times. There surely has to be give and take on both sides to enable everyone to work together.

              • 27 Marco McGinty
                December 23, 2012 at 12:11 am

                I have a hypothetical scenario for you Grouseman. Let’s say there is a small business involved in the wildlife viewing/ecotourism industry. This business takes paying visitors out to view the various forms of wildlife, but many of the clients are interested in iconic Scottish species such as raptors and has done so with great success for many years. The business operates near a number of grouse moors and the business owner has noticed in the past few years that predator numbers have drastically decreased, and he suspects criminal activity. Unfortunately, the police are not at all interested in pursuing his claims that raptor persecution is taking place. As a result, he has noticed that it is getting more and more difficult to find anything of real interest to show the paying clients. Word has spread that the trips are not as productive as they once were. This is obviously having an effect as the business is losing custom and he is finding it increasingly difficult to keep the business afloat.

                Should this person be allowed to go onto the grouse moors and freely kill grouse whenever he feels like?

          • 28 nirofo
            December 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

            You’d be fatally wrong if you thought I knew nothing about shooting, I was brought up with it from a very early age among some of the best, (depending on your point of view) grouse moors in the UK. I’ve seen first hand the damage grouse shooting interests have caused to the environment and in particular witnessed the huge bags, (2000+) of grouse slaughtered in the first few days of the season and the rush to be the first to deliver the birds to the top London restaurants. I’ve also witnessed first hand the large numbers of predators, Raptors in particular, killed by some methods you wouldn’t believe if you hadn’t seen it just so that the artificially high numbers of grouse can be maintained. I’ve seen the keepers log books listing the numbers of grouse killed per day, with particular emphasis on who had the best bag or made the best shot, you wouldn’t believe some of the names in the logs !!! I’ve also seen the entries at the back of the log books listing the “vermin” killed, birds including Golden Eagle, Osprey, Goshawks, Peregrines, Hen, Monty’s and Marsh Harriers, Merlins, Kestrels, Buzzards, Black and Red Kites, Merlins, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels, Short-eared, Tawny, Long-eared and Eagle Owls, the list would make any conservationists hair stand on end. You say what would happen to the numbers when they crash, well I think it would be the same thing that was happening naturally for thousands of years before man interfered and made things unnatural. The birds and other predators would find their own naturally sustainable levels and continue to live and thrive, as prey items diminished they would move elsewhere or starve, prey stocks would build up again and the predators would return. It’s called survival. So you are saying that in order to protect their jobs, families homes and shotgun and firearms certificates people, (I assume you mean gamekeepers etc,) will continue breaking the law rather than find a way to accept and live alongside our protected birds of prey ??? No wonder the RSPB walked out of the Hen Harrier dialogue, it’s like banging your head on a stone wall.

            • 29 Grouseman
              December 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

              I know that feeling it is like trying to bang your head against a brick wall! Certain organisations including the RSPB have poisoned and killed certain things in order to protect others is this right? What makes it acceptable for them to do this to suit their interests and not for others.

              • 30 nirofo
                December 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

                The point my dear grouseman, assuming we actually need one is that keepers and other shooting estate personnel illegally kill legally protected birds of prey and other legally protected wildlife just to further their own unjustifiable ends. As you’ve already acknowleged Grouse, Pheasants and Red-legged Partridge stocks are kept at a high naturally unsustainable level for profit and self gratification. It’s acknowledged that the RSPB have removed foxes, rats and crows from certain protected bird sanctuaries in order to conserve other protected species, but as far as I am aware no protected birds of prey or other protected species have ever been killed. I’m sure that using this as a comparative get out will lead you nowhere considering the huge amount of protected Raptor killing that is carried out on a constant daily basis on the shooting estates, in particular on the Grouse moors. Remember, the gamekeepers etc, are killing huge amounts of legally protected Raptors in order to ensure their levels of profit and self gratification are maintained. The RSPB on the other hand are removing a few non protected predators from a few bird reserves which are set up primarily to protect and conserve the birds which were already living and breeding there, not for their own profit and self gratification.

                • 31 Marco McGinty
                  December 16, 2012 at 5:23 am

                  I, and many others, have pointed many of these facts out to Grouseman, but he simply does not want to accept the truth or he is unable to understand the basis of our arguments. Either way, it’s pointless discussing anything with him but we will have to continue to destroy his arguments with logic and sense just in case any new or less-informed members are reading. But it is quite easy, as once he has been defeated he will simply ignore everything and refuse to comment again on the subject, only to reappear on another post recycling the same stuff over and over again, ranting and raving about the economy and jobs, telling profuse lies about the RSPB, etc, etc.

                  But anyway, I recently watched an old episode of Countryfile (from last year), which just happened to contain an article on grouse shooting. During the article, they interviewed the gamekeeper (Alan Edwards) from an estate in England. His statement was as follows:

                  “Shooting is a very important part of the management of a grouse moor. You’re taking out the harvestable surplus and without that the numbers would build up to a point where they would get disease, and then they would die out.”

                  And here was me thinking that the role of the predator in the natural environment was to take care of any surplus numbers. Silly me for having such ridiculous thoughts. But then again, perhaps all predators have been wiped out from that estate, like so many other estates throughout the land.

                  However, I will ask you one question, Grouseman, and I do hope you will respond this time. Many people have claimed that grouse moors are a monoculture and you have, so often, disagreed with those people, stating that grouse moors benefit many species. So, could you please give a list of the many avian species that do benefit from managed grouse moors?

                  • 32 Grouseman
                    December 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

                    Far from your arguments being locigal and sensable in my opinion most of them are biggoted and irrational. To answer your question some of the avian speces that benefit from grouse moor management include curlews, lapwings, golden plover, ouzels, black grouse, dunlin, redshank and snipe. Not that these species will likely cause you much interest as none of them have a hooked beak.

                    • 33 Marco McGinty
                      December 20, 2012 at 12:23 am

                      So, where are the bigoted and irrational points in my arguments? I have succesfully argued against all of your points, whereas you have simply chosen to ignore all of my points and many of my questions.

                      I did ask for a list of the many avian species that benefit from grouse moors and in addition to Red Grouse you have managed incredible eight species! This total is far from the huge number people would expect when you say “many species”, and considering all these species succesfully breed away from managed grouse moors, your quote could be deemed misleading. But this begs another question. When you suggest that these species benefit from grouse moor management, don’t you mean that they are actually benefitting from the wholesale slaughter of all predators, including the illegal persecution of many of our protected and iconic species? When predators are slaughtered in such numbers, enabling prey species to burgeon, then this disrupts the natural balance, which is quite clearly mismanagement (and criminal).

                      But I am quite sure that the number of species that do not benefit from grouse moor management will easily exceed your eight. Let’s see – we have White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk, Buzzard – what, that’s eight already!? Then there’s Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl, Tawny Owl, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Rook, Raven and Jackdaw. And Fox, Badger, Wildcat, Pine Marten, Mountain Hare and Hedgehog. Shall I go on?

                      But in response to your final sentence, you could not be further from the truth. I have a respect for all creatures and as well as carrying out invertebrate monitoring/recording on a casual basis I have worked or volunteered on surveys covering a wide variety of avian species, including Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, White-fronted Goose, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Nightjar, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Woodcock, Snipe, Grasshopper Warbler, Capercaillie, Black Grouse, as well as moorland surveys, farmland surveys, seabird surveys and general breeding bird surveys. And another point worth mentioning – I have been a WeBS (that’s the Wetland Bird Survey in case you don’t know) volunteer for many years, which covers many of the species that you mention above.

                      You should, by now, have noted that none of this solely involves raptors. So, I’ll leave it up to the other readers about who they believe is bigoted and irrational.

          • 34 Marco McGinty
            December 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

            “What happens to the numbers when they crash due to disease and a huge level of predation stops them building up again and the numbers of grouse get lower, as does the numbers of raptors and other predators that depend on them?”

            Then you have a natural balance!

  11. 35 Grouseman
    December 14, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Mark Avery is simply trying to stir up a heap of controversy and publicity to try and sell more copies of his book before Christmas anyway!

  12. December 15, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I’m personally very disappointed in the RSPB.

    Does this not surely weaken any future possability of solving this age long festering grouse/harrier conservation mess?

    • 37 nirofo
      December 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm

      I would hope it leaves the RSPB open to pursue alternative methods of putting a stop to Raptor persecution once and for all, but then I suppose it is getting near Christmas and you don’t always get what you hope for.

  13. 39 Merlin
    December 16, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Grouseman, I used the term slaughter in my response, I’ll try to clarify why I used the term. In the past I have been involved with shooting on small/ medium sized shoots as a beater, I have no problem per se with this aspect of the sport. Working on an average 200 day shoot there were days early season with bags in excess of 200 yet at the end of the season bags dropped to as low as 80 birds, I never once heard anyone complain that they wished they had shot more birds. For most it was about the day and the company. While reading shooting times and also reported in the daily mail I read of Sir xxxx xxxxxxxx’s and Sir xxxxxx xxxxxxxx exploits on a shooting trip in Spain in which they shot just short of a thousand partridge before dinner with 5 other guests. Without going off too much of a tangent it happened a day after my 10 year old nephew had come walking into the house bragging that he had beaten his younger 7 year old cousin 10 nil at football in the garden. He didn’t realise what he had done was unsporting, it was far too easy and not a challenge. he’s immature and just got carried away with the winning feeling. For what xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx did there was no excuse in my or any true sportsman’s eyes. That was a slaughter, your opinion would be appreciated please. [Ed: Last paragraph removed]

  14. 40 Merlin
    December 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Grouseman, I would still appreciate your point of view on my last point, I believe it was unsporting but would like to hear different points of view on the matter in case I have missed something in making my judgement. I believe times and attitudes have changed for the worse on Grouse moors, that greed has taken over, you only have to read Savills brochures, the field or shooting times to see estates boasting that they recorded record bags even after the lousy, wet springs and summers we have been having. Scotland use to be the mecca for raptor watchers, it isn’t any more, only Mull is worth hitting for a raptor trek nowadays. Bowland had 15 nesting Harriers as late as 05, now they have gone. how did Grousemen enjoy shooting in those days with all those Raptors around but nowadays wont tolerate them? A fellow beater, a Wildfowler once said to me the two most exciting things he ever saw on a Grouse moor was a Peregrine disputing territory with a Hen Harrier and then another Peregrine stooping and levelling out as it past him, stick a leg out and narrowly miss taking a Grouse that jinked at the last moment, Falconers work for years to achieve this situation, this guy had seen it out beating. He never mentioned any high or fast shots. The way things are going his kids will never get to see dramas like these unfold on our moors, I believe you and many of your mates are sportsmen, but I also think you need to get rid of the rot at the top in your sport that will eventually kill it off if left unchecked instead of following like sheep

    • 41 Marco McGinty
      December 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

      If you are talking of a former racing driver and a banker, then I wholeheartedly agree that this is indeed slaughter and nowhere near sporting. But we can’t expect anything else from such vile people.

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