27
Feb
14

Wildlife protection laws have had little impact on driven grouse moors

Fearnan Angus Glens Dec 2013There’s an excellent article in the Scotsman today, written by Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland.

He discusses the failure of wildlife protection laws to aid the recovery of several raptor species, including the hen harrier, golden eagle, red kite and peregrine, on land managed for driven grouse shooting.

Read the article here.

On a related issue, Mark Avery’s blog today is all about the e-petition for the licensing of grouse moors and gamekeepers (which ends today) – and hints at the growing frustration of those who have been relying on the authorities to ‘sort out’ the illegal persecution of raptors on driven grouse moors. There’s a particularly pertinent comment from Pete Cosgrove:

Has anyone assessed what other criminal enterprises get ignored by Government in this kind of way?

There’s a definite ‘something’ in the air…

 


52 Responses to “Wildlife protection laws have had little impact on driven grouse moors”


  1. 1 Dave Dick
    February 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Yes..time for some “hard ball” on this subject..its been a very very long time coming …far too many people have relied on a naive notion, that these criminals would somehow come to their senses by gentle negotiation….those who take part in, or even sanction the poisoning of golden eagles, trampling of harrier chicks or spring trapping them on their nests, are not nice people. Their is no excuse for that…and certainly not financial greed.

    • 2 nirofo
      February 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Lets face it, THEY ARE CRIMINALS FULL STOP and should be dealt with by the law the same way other criminals would be treated !!!

  2. February 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    A really excellent article. But just what are we going to have to DO to ensure that illegal killing of raptors attracts adequate punishment to act as a disincentive, and that owners of so-called ‘sporting’ estates are forced into the open? The ‘rural income’ mantra they keep trotting out as a seeming excuse for their activities is simply not good enough. It smacks of the arrogance which is so prevalent among landowners.

  3. 5 John Thatcher
    February 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I wonder if an alternative approach to this problem might be found. If, for instance, it can be demonstrated that the numbers of breeding pairs of raptor species are below that which would naturally occur on the managed grouse moors, then it becomes clear that the land managers of those moors are failing in a presumed duty of care to protect those species. This, without any proof or admissions of persecution, should be sufficient to call the land managers to task for failing in that duty, or to justify an investigative commission to establish ground rules to underwrite such a duty of care. Is anyone pressing for that sort of action?

  4. 6 Fay M
    February 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    whilst there is misinformation on both sides argument will continue. Golden eagle populations, whilst poisoned, trapped or shot has remained in the 400-450 breeding pair for the last few decades; RSPB figures. Peregrines and Red kite are both enjoying a recovery, never seen before. Peregrine are nesting on Cathedral spires and on factory rooftops (D Ratcliffe in his excellent book rated cliffs only for their usage by height) now they use trees! a bird fully recovered from its lowest ebb and no longer can be regarded as rare. As for the kite which was once only seen in Wales they are now seen in every British country. There is no argument for what is happening to the Hen harrier it is a disgrace but there is an apathy in a large portion of the public who walk the countryside, they have no idea whats about. I watched a female Hen harrier quartering over a well used path and not one member of the three parties that walked under/alongside her gave her a second glance; sad really. There’s no need to say Peregrine and Red kite are rare anymore they are not! yea highlight their murder but lets be honest and factual and not play into the hands of others. I will leave the Eagle owl “mystery” and Sea eagle debacle for another blog but will say this, the only place I have saw strangely positioned eggs and traps have been on well manicured heather moorland

    • 7 Chris Roberts
      February 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Red Kites are still being illegally killed in North Scotland on an industrial scale. Until I see them on a daily bases, as I do when I’m in Southern England, I shall not rest in condemning the driven grouse moors immediately south of Inverness. Obviously there are people in high places who are protecting these criminals.

    • 8 nirofo
      February 27, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      It’s an interesting point you make and the Peregrine expansion into urban areas is very welcome, just like it is in many of the European cities where they have nearly always had them. The Red Kite is also doing very well thanks to the concerted efforts of conservationists and ornithologists to reintroduce them, but, and there’s always a but, there are vast suitable areas of prime habitat in the UK that are severely starved of Raptors , areas that is where they should be doing well but are not. The most glaring example of this is where there is intensive game shooting, in particular the Red Grouse moorlands of northern England and many parts of Scotland. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the reason for this huge discrepancy.

      It’s interesting that the Golden Eagle population has hardly changed from 400-440 pairs in decades with expansion being virtually non existent despite plentiful suitable habitat and prey. It’s also interesting that there are many areas of Scotland which are prime eagle habitat but have none, these also happen to be the areas where many eagles mysteriously disappear into the well known persecution black hole.

      As for the Eagle Owl mystery, what mystery? It’s only a mystery if you believe in fairies.

    • February 27, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Fay,

      The so-called ‘stability’ of the golden eagle population at 400-450 breeding pairs is not as it seems. You have to look behind the figures, particularly at regional abundance, to understand what’s going on. In a nutshell, there have been considerable increases in the west (the Western Isles especially) where persecution has dropped and eagles have moved back in to formerly vacant territories. There is definite growth there. However, there have also been considerable losses in the Central & Eastern Highlands and Southern Uplands, particularly on land that is managed as driven grouse moors. These losses are being ‘masked’ by the increases in the west. So on a very superficial level, the overall population looks ‘stable’, but look closer and you will see that is not the case at all. We blogged about this in greater depth here:

      https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/gamekeepers-and-golden-eagles-the-facts/

      As for peregrines, you need to read the scientific paper written by Amar et al (2011), which demonstrated that peregrine productivity on grouse moors was a whopping 50% lower than peregrine pairs nesting on non-grouse moor habitat. The authors showed that peregrine populations on grouse moors were unable to sustain themselves without relying on immigration of peregrines from other, non-grouse moor habitat, such as urban populations. We blogged about this research here:

      https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/new-study-shows-extent-of-peregrine-persecution-on-grouse-moors/

      As for red kites, they may well now be present in all UK countries, but they are still in recovery and are still to return to many counties. In some areas they are now common, in other areas they are ‘rare’ in a localised sense and in other areas they are very rare or simply not there (yet). An important research paper by Smart et al (2010) showed that one of the reintroduced red kite populations in northern Scotland was significantly lower than it should be, and that it was being constrained by illegal persecution. See here:

      https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/red-kite-persecution-study-wins-science-award/

      There is anecdotal information that the reintroduced population in north-east England is similarly constrained, although as far as we are aware this has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed paper.

      • 10 Fay M
        February 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm

        Thanks for that great reply as a newcomer here I had not seen the articles mentioned I shall be reading them. I am well aware what goes on on grouse moors but being aware does not prevent the persecution. In the case of Golden eagles, publishing the known breeding pairs would now seem very misleading, unless the data is further quantified.

  5. 11 Jimmy
    February 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Unfortunatly Fay there are large areas of Northern Britain where Raptors are persecuted relentlessly. You cite the Golden Eagle. Its population is actually moribund(and has been for decades now) and has not expanded into ideal habitats in Southern Scotland and Northern England – this is despite over 100 years of protection. Red Kites while doing well in the South but in many parts of Scotland are struggling to increase numbers in many cases. The HH situation is well documented – the one thing all these issues have in common are the presence of driven grouse moors. No country can have a credible conservation policy when a whole sector is indulged when it comes to rampant wildlife crime and if the situation is not addressed sooner rather than later it will surely start to erode many of the gains made to date in raptor conservation

  6. 12 Upland Crusader
    February 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    There’s a small problem here.

    RSPB have been tied in with windfarm developers for the past 10 years or so, collecting significant consultancy fees as well as commission on membership deals and energy tariffs. Significant areas of the uplands, including areas considered as grouse moo and forming part of the known eagle range are now extensively developed with turbines and the true raptor losses resulting from this have yet to be quantified.

    Alongside this RSPB with SRSG organised the removal of eagle chicks to Ireland as part of their involvement in bird surveys for wind farms. Until they disclose their full involvement and publish both the numbers of raptors lost to blade strikes and those collected for Ireland they cannot competently comment on the recovery of raptors or even be seen as a credible guardian of our natural heritage.

    • 13 Chris Roberts
      February 27, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      I have to agree with regard to wind turbines, they are a national disgrace, they will soon be more numerous than trees in the Caledonian pine forest! Birds of prey are looking to the ground for their food and no doubt many are in collision with turbine blades.

    • 14 Jimmy
      February 28, 2014 at 12:24 am

      I would agree its time for the likes of the RSPB and other bodies concerned with bird conservation to cut their ties with the wind industry in light of mounting evidence from around the world concerning the negative affects of blade strikes on many species of raptors – in particular large and already declining species. On the Ireland issue, I really don’t thinks its a factor since only birds from nest with 2 fledglings were collected. Golden Eagles rarely raise more than one chick as invariably the older chick kills its sibling

  7. 15 John Miles
    March 2, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The Peregrine survey is this year and I predict more found in urban than rural. The facts are there. Only 11 pairs found on Red Grouse moors in England below the Wall out of 77 former nesting pairs. In one county 7 out of 8 pairs produced young in quarries away from the moor but where do those young birds end up? In unoccupied territories on the moors where they will be removed. If keepers want their ‘back hand’ they will remove any thing that might take a Red Grouse. The shooting boys just keep rolling out the cash. They do not have to utter a word about needing certain birds removed.

  8. 16 Dave Jackson
    March 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Just stumbled upon the site, it makes quite interesting reading ! it seems most contributors are pro raptor and very passionate about their interest. As a detatched observer perhaps I could offer a “relaxed” opinion ? When the Romans invaded Britain they decided after a while that Scotland was just not worth the effort, so they built Hadrians wall and abandoned it. Maybe its now time to do the same with the grouse moors ? I am interested in nature generally and am of the opinion that there are plenty of raptors in the non grouse areas of great britain, so is it really that important to have 100% of Great Britain covered ? What i’m probably trying to say is, maybe its time to compromise ? maybe the passion is getting in the way of common sense. I am expecting robust replies to this, but that will just be the passion getting in the way again ha ha

    • 17 nirofo
      March 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Unfortunately nature doesn’t think like humans, it has it’s own agenda and usually tries to follow it regardless of human interference. This has but one consequence which as you may easily guess, doesn’t very often bode too well for the wildlife !!!

      • 18 Dave Dick
        March 2, 2014 at 11:29 pm

        Dear God..save us from yet another naive, “all we have to do is compromise and it can all be fixed”. As if the last 100 years of battles over legislation , attempts to get the killers to see reason, government inquiries, court cases, attempts at court cases… had never existed. The drug problem still exists , poverty still exists despite huge efforts to eradicate them….the raptor persecution problem is not a simple one fix problem….Dave Jackson and anyone else new to this site…please read at least a few back blogs [start with the archives] before posting.

        …and peregrine falcons..are one of the world’s most widespread species from sub arctic to semi desert across the globe…they can and will adapt to almost anything we do to their environment – except directly killing them. A heavily wooded England, [some chance!!], would have tree nesting peregrines to complement all those ones breeding around the coast and above the natural treeline.

        • 19 Dave Jackson
          March 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm

          Hi Dave ( Dick )
          So basically I am naive ? I suspect anyone who holds opinions contrary to your’s is labelled thus ( by you ). If its not working change it !! doing things the way they have been isn’t working, In the real world unfortunately there is no protection whatsoever for raptors. 100 years of doing it your way is not bearing any fruit ? why keep digging the hole deeper ? a new approach is needed. Re the purchase of a grouse moor by the RSPB, no rantless sensible comment on that ? The raptor persecution problem is a minority problem 99.9 % of the population just isn’t interested, am I right ? When you mention the killers seeing reason, is that your reasoning or theirs ? I suspect this is the gamekeepers you talk about, there are two sides to that situation, yours and theirs, in that situation the ONLY way forward is by compromise. Really the raptor lobby needs to get some agreements with the landowners, BEFORE the protected status is removed from the raptors. Reading back through this blog as you advised Fay states” the peregrine has fully recovered from its lowest ebb” the government will be aware of this and may be asking ” do we really need protected status on these birds now ? ” Maybe a financial incentive to the landowners to encourage them to allow a number of birds to live unmolested on their land, a bit like a farm subsidy, just a suggestion !
          like it or not, it is a fact, they DO decide what is allowed to live on the moors.

          • 20 John Thatcher
            March 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

            Just a couple of points (don’t get angry): the “landowners” are not actually land owners but they have title to the land and have the rights to the activities that take place on the land. They know enough to extract large subsidies from the state to fill their pockets. This is a remnant of a feudal age whereby land title was granted to those who offered service to the crown and thence by inheritance has been handed (unearned) to descendants to keep for “sporting purposes” or to sell on to others of the same ilk. The fact that the crown is no longer permitted to grant lands for service, because our monarch has limited constitutional status, only underlines how little this perpetual ownership of land to the benefit of a very privileged minority complies with modern political philosophy.

            The practises whereby the “landowners” are permitted to release huge numbers of specially raised young (not legally protected species) birds into the natural environment (any other person or agency requires a special licence to release protected animals into that environment) for the paying “friends” of the landowners to blast out of the sky with shotgun pellets are, again, an element of the archaic feudalism of “shooting estates”. Meanwhile, anyone who has a vested interest in the slaughter of game-birds is lobbying manically to be permitted to continue this practise unmolested all the while adjusting the response of nature to the massive availability of natural prey species by terminating the predators. The government that represents the whole of the electorate is notably reticent in dealing with the continuing flagrant breaches of wildlife protection by the land management staff of the shooting estates. (Not so reticent about jumping on other bandwagons)!

            In short – the “shooters” are conspiring to break existing laws. We don’t pay people to stop them breaking laws. We urge the government, and its’ agencies, to develop effective ways to make sure that the lawbreakers are stopped and made responsible for the damage that their activities is doing to the natural world. We don’t have to encourage them to allow anything – unless that encouragement consists of potent legal penalties for failing to abide by wildlife protection legislation.

            As for the RSPB having to buy an estate…. Just take the estates away from persistent persecutors of protected species and designate them National Parks – job done!

          • 21 Dave Dick
            March 3, 2014 at 9:32 pm

            My annoyance was aimed at every new person who comes into this debate, like yourself by the sound of it ,seems to think that no one has ever tried taking an even handed view, that no one has ever tried compromise solutions – and by new persons, I mean general public, educated biologist, policeman, MP, MSP, civil servant, shooter, landowner, journalist etc etc. Over 30 years of this, Ive had to deal with them all..Ive sent them to talk to both sides, to each other. Weve tried diplomacy, weve tried threats, weve tried giving an inch [they took a mile]. Nothing has had anything but a temporary effect.

            Which is why myself..and many like me from all walks of life…are now saying, enough..Ban Grouse Shooting..away with your killing fields..away with your lies about preserving biodiversity..give us back our wildlife, give us back our Uplands.

            On your last point…not in any way a new one…”quotas” have been discussed endlessly – we now know, that even if we did go down that extremely distasteful route [against every definition of democracy and the Laws which the rest of us must live by]..that we simply couldnt trust any “grouse keeper” to stick to their quota, any more than they have stuck to the criminal law.

            Mr Jackson, dont take any of this personally…..just understand the frustration felt by those who created this website and by the great majority who post on it..we are not unthinking, narrow minded bigots..we try very very hard to find a way through this that leaves predators and people on the land.

    • 22 Jimmy
      March 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      We have already lost Hen Harriers in England with that approch. Golden Eagles are suffering too

      • 23 Dave Jackson
        March 2, 2014 at 7:37 pm

        I suppose there are 2 versons of nature, an ” ideal ” one where no humans exist, and the one we have where we do exist, I’m afraid nature is stuck with the latter. If we had the former the wildlife landscape would be vastly different to what exists now, Peregrin falcons for example would find the going particularly difficult what with all the ground cover at the preys disposal. there are 4 peregrin falcon sites within binocular range of me so I am often witness to their hunting technique, they seem to want to single out their prey and even guide them into the open, so a natural wooded England could be detrimental to their survival. The local “hostelrey” (think that is spelt right) is also the place where the pigeon racers meet, according to what they tell me the peregrine falcons just nest on the pigeon routes. I have often thought that the RSPB should buy its own grouse moor, stock it with grouse ? and it would then have its own reserve where hen harriers could flourish. In the film sexy beast starring Ray Whinstone they are discussing robbing an impregnable bank, the gnarled east end gangster comes out with the immortal line “there’s a way, there’s always a f*****g way !!” re the persecution of raptors, there is a way for all parties to co-exist, it just needs compromise and thinking of.

        • 24 Chris Roberts
          March 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

          Unfortunately many estate owners and their game keepers don’t know the meaning of compromise. For the last 150 years they have been killing all wildlife that has claws and/or a hooked beak, almost wiping out wildcat, pine martin and totally wiping out (in Scotland until they were re-introduced) osprey, white tail eagle, red kite. No they don’t know the meaning of the word compromise, they just like to kill!

        • 25 Rob
          March 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

          So Dave – does this also mean you would call for compromise in other aspects of blatent law breaking?
          I think the opposite and in my opinion the gloves need to come off and NGOs take up a more honest and forceful approach to direct action against sports shooting. Compromise hasn’t worked for years and despite all the good news stories that are out there, the situation with upland BoP is dire and we need to stop trying to aplogise for those who find it acceptable and feel that laws apply to other people and not themselves.
          Recent case in USA where photographer faces very heavy fine and imprisonment for disturbing nesting Snail Kites in Forida. Compare to the pathetic wrist slapping from the pro-sportsman judicary we have in the UK, not even covering a fraction of the time and effort put in my the NGOs carrying out the investigations. I am in no doubt what caring individuals need to do and it isn’t trying to make peace with the piss-taking ciminals.

        • 26 Fay M
          March 4, 2014 at 7:33 pm

          Dave Jackson, be careful, the pigeon men are Peregrine killers too! and Dave Dick can be offensive if you use inflammatory words like compromise etc don’t be put off joining in

        • 27 nirofo
          March 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

          Dave you speak a lot about compromise, but can you answer this question? If you went out and broke the law day after day would you expect the police to show compromise and let you off, perhaps they would the first time. If later you were caught at it again and the police decided you’d had your chance and took you to court would you expect the sheriff to compromise and let you off, perhaps he would first time. Now you’ve had your chances where both the police and the courts compromised on your behalf but you weren’t satisfied with that, you were still determined to do just what you please regardless of the law because only you are in the right and everyone else is wrong and you knew that you could get away with it every time.

          Some shooting estate owners and their gamekeepers are extremely fortunate in that they seem able to manipulate the law to suit themselves, they are the only people that can continuously break the law under the very noses of the police and the courts and get away with it scot free, they should have had book thrown at them long ago for some of the dirty crimes against protected wildlife they carry out in the name of so-called game protection. They’ve got away with it for far too long, it’s way past the time for compromise, (not that they ever did). TIME TO SHUT THEM DOWN !!!

  9. March 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I hope a way can be found to educate the people that carry out these barbaric crimes.

    • 31 Dave Dick
      March 5, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Some sort of prison based rehabilitation programme perhaps?..nothing else has worked. They are not ignorant about what they are doing, they just dont care about the rest of us..or nature.

  10. 32 Fay M
    March 5, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Rob

    Nest photographers the world over seem to be the same, serial offenders, who would do anything to get the photograph they want, habitat disturbance etc; you only need to look at xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx. His photo of a Black-throated diver at the nest, was included in Peter Robinsons book the Bird Detective, a book done in conjunction with the RSPB and at the time xxxxxxxxx was a FRPS. Twenty odd year later he was prosecuted for having a house full of stuffed birds and eggs and is no longer a Fellow.

  11. 33 Dave Jackson
    March 5, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Well !!! Where do I start ? Thanks Fay for the words of encouragement, and thanks also to everyone else who has taken the time to reply, to a newbie it is a little like a lions den in here, there is a lot of anger and vitriol against any talk of compromise, It is in the news at the moment that suspected killers in Northern Ireland were given immunity to prosecution ? this was part of the deal to end hostilities, the government compromised on the law to enable the situation to go forward, the killing on both sides was madness and really had to stop ? the law was getting in the way of a settlement and was put to one side as a result.
    Quick answer to Nirofo, no, they would prosecute me !! Some people seem to be treated with kid gloves relatively speaking compared to others, My Grandfather was a freemason, I am not !! Question answered ? this is only a “possible” reason not a definite you understand.
    What if ………… the general situation is what matters !! What if rats were a protected species ? they took up residence in your house or business and were interfering in your life as a consequence, when the police told you ” dont you dare touch them ” would you say, yes ok officer they can carry on living in my house, eating my toast and biting the kids faces, or would you go out and buy some traps or poison ? Well officer I got up one morning and they had just gone !
    What if …… You kept half a dozen Raptors in your back garden, you raised them from chicks, there were a couple of stoats or a raptor eating snake ( do they exist ? ) also living in your garden, of course, you guessed it, they are both protected by law, that said, you do actually see a fair amount of both when you are out and about, to be fair though, thirty years ago you would have been very lucky to see any at all. One week the snake eats a raptor, the week after the stoats dine on its mate. Of course officer, its nature I’ll just leave them to it and get some more birds, is this likely?
    Don’t bristle, ha ha, I can actually see both sides of the argument, or is it war ? If I was on ” The Gamekeeper ” website there would be arguments and illustrations pro your perspective !!
    The law is a strange thing at times, its rigid, and yet its fluid, it changes over time, breaking it sometimes brings about the change, ” It is tresspass to walk on these moors and therefore against the law, ” we don’t care, we are going to tresspass on kinder scout ” the beginings of the right to roam ?
    Its against the law to operate that citizens band radio, and there will be serious repercussions if you are caught. Well minister, they are still using them, they are just ignoring the law, the law is becoming a laughing stock, Don’t worry chief inspector, we can’t let them keep breaking the law with impunity, we’ll change the law at the next sitting of parliament, Hey and that means we can introduce a licence as well, Oh, before you go chief inspector could you possibly pass me one of those parliamentary expense claim forms
    I have been on this planet over 60 years, my conclusion is this, the law is more about control of the masses than it is about being fair or doing the right thing, keep things going along much as they are, the rich staying that way, no sudden changes, and the rest of us just keep working to make them the money they couldn’t get without us.
    I have to stand by my proposition that in the end a solution will only be found by an understanding and acceptance of the other persons perspective, and being prepared to compromise on your absolute aims. This of course applies to both sides. If both sides handed over negotiations to women a solution would likely come to fruition much quicker. ( Too much testosterone, and win or lose about men when negotiating ) women are masters at talking !! still we know that ?
    You have to get round the table with these people, face to face, what did Stephen Hawking say about conflict ? Just keep talking ?
    PS. despite what I have just written I am actually a man !! Well, I was the last time I looked.

    • 34 Dave Dick
      March 6, 2014 at 12:14 am

      If that last rant had been handwritten it would have been in green ink!..A classic howl from someone who doesnt want to engage in debate but MUST BE LISTENED TO. I make one comment in reply to the list of “lawbreaking” precedents cited – those were all widely unpopular laws..wildlife protection laws, under which all raptors now have full protection, are very widely popular with the public, thats why the RSPB has a million members. It is those who break them who are beyond the pale.
      Blogmeister..I think you should pull the plug on this guy, hes not helping anyone.

      • 35 Dave Jackson
        March 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Hi Dave ( dick )
        I don’t want to engage in debate !!!! ? the end of your post calls for the plug to be pulled on me because I’m not helping anyone, I think that probably means I’m saying things you don’t want to hear ? I think it is actually you who does’nt like debate ? please Dave deal in the truth, people are not stupid, the RSPB have a million members who care about birds, ALL birds, I live on the edge of morecambe bay so obviously come into contact with RSPB members, I usually make a point of talking to them, a good proportion have the opinion that the raptor situation is getting a little out of control, they are saying these things, not me !!
        I am beginning to get up to speed on this raptor thing having researched a little last night.You had a Vicarious Liability petition running, you needed 100,000 or was it 200,000 signatures which if you got them would trigger a debate in Parliament, You got 11,000, this is out of a population of over 60 Million. you got 11 signatures for every thousand members of the RSPB, This could hardly be construed as ” widely popular ” as you state. In the fifties I threw food out for the birds, within 30 seconds they appeared, probably around 20 to 30 sparrows, starlings and the odd brave seagull, if I do that now it just sits on the lawn and goes mouldy, I am not exagerating !! I can’t remember when I last saw a sparrow.
        Nirofo, compromise and appeasement are different things, thats why they are separate words ? one does’nt automatically lead on to the other as you state, and no I am not proposing changing laws because they are frequently broken, what an idiotic statement , please read more carefully and don’t try to put words in my mouth.

        • 36 nirofo
          March 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

          Compromise Mister Jackson can only work if both sides work towards it, if it’s so one sided as it is in the case of the shooting estates persecuting Raptors, then I’m afraid it’s the conservationists appeasing the gamekeepers and their bosses to the extent that the Raptors continue to get the shit end of the stick as usual. So in this case, as it was in the case of Neville Chamberlain, compromise does lead to appeasement and look where that got us!

          Your words regarding changing the law would lead one to think that is exactly what you were hinting at, why else would you quote instances such as the Kinder Scout trespass and the illegal use of citizens band radio? You actually said it, “Don’t worry chief inspector, we can’t let them keep breaking the law with impunity, we’ll change the law at the next sitting of parliament”. Now, if that’s not proposing changing laws because they are frequently broken I don’t know what is. !!!

          You are right about the Raptor situation getting a little out of control, except that it’s not just a little out of control, it’s hugely out of control when one small section of society, namely the shooting fraternity can persecute many species of birds of prey into near extinction without any fear of redress from the law.

          • 37 Dave Jackson
            March 11, 2014 at 4:51 pm

            What if …… You kept half a dozen Raptors in your back garden, you raised them from chicks, there were a couple of stoats or a raptor eating snake ( do they exist ? ) also living in your garden, of course, you guessed it, they are both protected by law, that said, you do actually see a fair amount of both when you are out and about, to be fair though, thirty years ago you would have been very lucky to see any at all. One week the snake eats a raptor, the week after the stoats dine on its mate. Of course officer, its nature I’ll just leave them to it and get some more birds, is this likely?

            Nobody has TRUTHFULLY answered this yet, would you really just stand back and let them eat your raptors ?
            Politicians are fickle, if a law is unpopular or cant be enforced it becomes an embarassment and they are likely as not to change it. I think birds of prey have made a fantastic recovery in the british isles, so much so that the prey species are suffering now, whats the figure ? 1 pair of breeding sparrowhawks eats 1200 small birds a year, The RSPB is asking the members to feed the birds in their gardens, probably will even sell them the bird table !! the sparrow hawks know just where to find them especially in winter, bit like feeding the antelopes next to the crocodile infested river, I feel its the prey now that needs a little help, the birds of prey would have recovered naturally anyway without human intervention, just as soon as the egg thinning pesticides got out of their systems.
            We could debate the meaning of words for evermore, but no point ? Appeasement, giving in to someones demands, the gamekeepers/landowners are not demanding anything off you, they are just getting rid of the things they think are a hindrance to their business. If your protestations become an embarassment to authority they may think, well the birds of prey have made a fantastic recovery from 30 years ago, we can’t post a police officer with every gamekeeper, do we really need protection for birds of prey

            • 38 Marco McGinty
              March 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm

              I’ve been watching this debate from the sidelines for a while now, but now is the time to put forward my own view on the subject.

              There has been compromise on this subject for decades – for many decades the shooting industry has been allowed to kill a certain number of species legally (most corvids, some mustelids, foxes, rodents, etc), but this was never enough for them, so they have relentlessly (and illegally) slaughtered many protected birds and mammals. Compromise would see the extermination of all predatory creatures. Not exactly a wise move or proposal, unless you had a vested interest in the shooting industry.

              Perhaps nobody has truthfully answered your “what if” scenario because of its somewhat nonsensical attributes. However, if the raptors are free flying, then I’m sure they wouldn’t be bothered about the snake or the stoat (unless the snake and stoat were abnormally gargantuan), but if they were tethered in the open at the time of the deaths, then the entire fault would lie with owner and his/her stupidity for not providing a secure shelter.

              In relation to your statement that “birds of prey have made a fantastic recovery in the british isles, so much so that the prey species are suffering now”, would you be so kind as to enlighten us which species are suffering as a direct result of predation, and which predatory species is/are responsible? And as for your suggestion that Sparrowhawks are responsible for the declines in small birds, could you please explain the phenomena that many of its main prey species (and many common garden birds) have increased dramatically since the 1970s, in line with an increase in Sparrowhawks? Furthermore, you will probably find that Sparrowhawks hunted smaller birds long before the RSPB started selling bird food and bird tables – in fact, aeons before the RSPB even existed.

              The anti-RSPB comment leads me to believe that you are actually someone that holds a pro-game shooting/pigeon-fancying stance, and therefore an inbuilt hatred for raptors, but then again due to your ill-informed Sparrowhawk comments, you could have connections to the Countryside Alliance or Songbird Survival. Your “the gamekeepers/landowners are not demanding anything off you, they are just getting rid of the things they think are a hindrance to their business” statement further encourages my belief. However, on that last point of yours, as the illegal actions of many involved in the shooting industry is having a adverse impact on tourism and wildlife watching opportunities, would you propose that those involved in the environmental tourism and wildlife watching sectors be allowed to kill pheasants and grouse at will?

              (Regarding Songbird Survival and their nonsensical Saving Songbirds With Science strapline, when you scroll down on their homepage, it shows six images of birds. I would have thought that “science” would have alerted them to that fact that one isn’t a songbird!)

            • 39 John Thatcher
              March 11, 2014 at 9:51 pm

              Dave (Jackson)

              I have learned a great deal about conservation from this forum. I have also researched outside the forum to get to a consensus of the truth. Within the terms of this argument, I believe that the truth is that “Landowners”, Estate Managers and Gamekeepers are motivated by petty short-term economics set against the will of nature. Currently they are able to break laws with impunity because of the vastness of the land area that they control and the limited ability of the conservationists to monitor those huge stretches of landscape. Those vast landscapes are not permitted to develop naturally and to be occupied by natural eco-systems because that would make it harder for the shotgun wielders (not renowned generally to be skilled at shooting) to take a “decent bag”. The resource that is afforded to the VERY FEW individuals who enjoy this type blood-sport to slake their thirst is neither moral nor economically defensible against alternative.

              You might understand, I hope that, on shooting estates, a VERY FEW people have the power of life and death over wild creatures that would thrive and be controlled by nature’s own balance – a mechanism evolved over millions of years – if not for the corruption of the landscape, by those very few, for dubious economic gains. The number of people engaged in this are actually FEWER than (what you suppose is an enthused minority) the conservationists that stand against this status, which drives a big hole through your argument about the popularity of the campaign that is embraced by this forum.

              The reluctance to compromise has long been the stance of the “Landowners” and their lackeys. When conservationists have sought compromise in the past, they have been fobbed off and cried down by the elitist shooting alliance. The compromise option is no longer adjudged viable thanks to the growing numbers of raptor casualties found in, or nearby, shooting estates (or last recorded in, or nearby) having been shot, poisoned or trapped (all in breach of law) and where no satisfactory investigation of these crimes have been published by the authorities. Perish the thought that an historic collusion between the “Landowners”, politicians, lawmakers and law enforcers continues into the 21st century. It is not reassuring that the very occasional “token” prosecutions that have taken place have not resulted in effectively deterrent penalties.

    • 40 nirofo
      March 7, 2014 at 2:33 am

      Well Mr Jackson, “the man”, if everyone had an attitude like yours the law breaking gamekeepers and any other law breaking citizens who thought they were right and the law was wrong would be turning this country into an anarchist state and we all know where that leads!

      So, you are saying that if someone breaks the law often enough the law should be changed to suit them so that it’s no longer illegal for them to keep breaking it ?

      Your ridiculous comparison of rats in the house versus protected raptors on so-called Red Grouse moors really doesn’t warrant a sensible reply, except to say how silly it is.

      Compromise eventually leads to appeasement, reference Neville Chamberlain, and we all know the outcome of that approach.

  12. 41 John Thatcher
    March 6, 2014 at 12:23 am

    There is only one response that I can make: shooting estates only exist because they are vestigial remnants of a long passed society based on feudal privilege. If they did not exist today and you tried to launch the idea as a new commercial enterprise it would never be permitted because it would be an unacceptable practice.

    Like the practice, the facilitators and proponents of game shooting exist in a bygone age and cannot accept that releasing tens of thousands of young birds into an environment that is manipulated into a stunted and corrupted alien world where paying guests can demonstrate their machismo and class by shredding those same birds to pieces with gunshot, is fundamentally wrong.

    That there is overpowering evidence that the facilitators of that unholy slaughter wilfully and, apparently, without fear of legal restitution, shoot, trap, poison & otherwise destroy avian raptors that are designated as PROTECTED BY LAW, in order that the shotgun fodder of their paying guests shall not be diminished, is sticking up two fingers to nature, the law and to those of us who care about nature.

    Can there be compromise? Ask them, the shooters and the “gofers” who do their bidding! For many years they have neglected to consider compromise. Should we? Hell no. I want an end to it, I want to give natural balance a chance!

  13. 42 Fay M
    March 6, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Take a Golden eagles egg; result jail, kill a Golden eagle; result inconclusive. Simply put but if Fearnan had been allowed to live and breed in Scotland, the above two scenarios would be fact, take his egg jail, kill him in the Angus glens no result, despite publicity. How come we as a society are jailing egg collectors and murdering gamekeepers are keeping their jobs? I looked up one of the estates mentioned on this blog and they charge £300 per day, per gun, surely its about money. If an estate is caring for their raptors, we should applaud their lead. There are landowners (sorry John Thatcher) who do not live in Scotland but live thousands of miles away and on who’s land atrocities are carried out. The photograph of a dead Fearnan is horrible but it stays with you, it has an affect. I am sure local people enjoy having eagles about, whether birders or not, harnessing their help is a way forward, particularly in persecution hot spots.

  14. 43 Merlin
    March 12, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Dave Jackson wrote
    a breeding pair of sparrowhawks eats 1200 small birds a year
    I think its time the prey got a little help

    a family of blue tits can take up to a thousand caterpillars a day back to the nest for a large brood, with many of our butterflies and moths in decline would you also advise us to cull blue tits, the same is true on a lot of other species too, again please offer advice on which others you think we should cull in order to give the prey a helping hand

    • 44 John Thatcher
      March 12, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      Nature provides her own balance when to itself. It is man’s intrusion that fouls the pattern! The butterflies and moths are declining because of the wholesale changes in agriculture, forestry, gardens and open spaces. Combined with air pollution and the indiscriminate use of insecticides what chance do the insects have? This, in turn, causes problems with the insectivores which will, in turn, cause a population fall in smaller raptors – like sparrowhawks. Check back to the general collapse caused by DDT. It’s why it is called an ecosystem, because each part is dependent upon another! If the landscape that is currently being used and abused as grouse moor were left to develop to its’ own natural state, the flora and the fauna will inevitably become more dynamic & species rich and you would be able to see just how nature comes into balance.

      Please try to understand that it is the “Landowners”, the land use and the way the land is “managed” that is causing all of the problems facing wildlife!

  15. 45 Dave Jackson
    March 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Dave ( dick )
    Don’t read this, I don’t want people to think I must be listened to.
    Hi Merlin,
    surprised you didn’t correct me,( not really ) been on RSPB site apparently its over 2000 small birds !! a pair of sparrowhawks eats in a year. If you want the version of nature without humans then you don’t ” cull ” anything and also you don’t protect anything ? you just stand aside, in the ” natural ” type world ( long gone in the uk ), its survival of the fittest ?
    Hi John ( thatcher )
    My back garden has become species rich through minimal interference !! I just call it a meadow now, so I can see what you are trying to tell me. I’m not infering anything by this, but its the stuff my children brought home from school, Its standard opinion, I can’t honestly see it applying in the future, we are dabbling too much with the world. Horrible thought I know !! but the way things are going if the human race needs, say a plant to feed the starving, it will just constuct one, we want a plant that contains all the vitamins in ideal amounts for humans, easy, we’ve already made it. It will be here faster than you think !! We are far too “clever” to go back.
    Humans are an animal produced by “nature” we are very good at looking after no 1, which is of course one of the rules of survival of the fittest, another one is cooperate if by doing so you are better off than if you had not cooperated. look around, humans do it all the time
    we have developed a frightening power over the other species on the planet. It probably isn’t in our best interests to lose any, at least not before we have mapped their genomes !!! we may need their DNA to construct the new plants and animals that will inhabit the Earth in the future ? constructed animals already inhabit most of Britain, modern chickens, cows, sheep all made the long way of course, by humans applying selective pressures that produce what suits us, but just wait till we start DNA engineering. Balance in nature is a mirage, quite a bold statement ? There never has been balance in nature, where was the balance when nature wiped out the dinosaures, meteorites are a natural occurence ? where was it when the 400 species disappeared in the uk in the last 200 years ?. I dont think all the organisms are dependant on each other,and are able to achieve balance, more they are affected by each other, which is a different thing, some prosper for a while others die out I’m not dependant on the lion that eats me, but I am affected by it. For me nature is just “how it is now” however that is, nature has produced everything on the planet, including us, so we are natural ? nature didn’t prop up a species and give it special privilages so we go against nature when we do. nature doesn’t balance it changes constantly, conservation goes against nature
    This raptor gamekeeper landowner thing is just all about self interest, looking after no 1, they are interfering in your lives and what you want, and you are interfering in their lives and what they want, both sides are minority interests, so naturally no one else is that bothered, having thought more about it, I don’t fancy your chances of getting them round the table, they have what they want already, why cooperate ? you need something they need, something to bargain with. with regard to stiffer penalties etc. they should have been in place at the outset when raptors were low in number, difficult to get them in now when numbers are significantly higher. If the spotlight drops on birds of prey ” they ” may think, why are they still protected ? their numbers seem to be healthy again. I still maintain the only chance to get at least some of what you want is to talk with the ” other side ”
    The hen harrier is not on the grouse moors, without going back to the RSPB site, was the estimate 1.3 million pairs elsewhere ?. when I first came on the site I thought the hen harrier was nearly extinct !!!

  16. 50 merlin
    March 15, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Dave Jackson wrote

    “Hi Merlin,
    surprised you didn’t correct me,( not really ) been on RSPB site apparently its over 2000 small birds !! a pair of sparrowhawks eats in a year. If you want the version of nature without humans then you don’t ” cull ” anything and also you don’t protect anything ? you just stand aside, in the ” natural ” type world ( long gone in the uk ), its survival of the fittest ?

    Hi Dave, I have seen comments like this for over forty years now, firstly Sparrowhawks don’t just eat small birds, this time of year female Sparrowhawks will generally target wood pigeons in order to gain weight for the coming breeding season, pigeon fanciers will tell you that this is usually the worst time of the year for attacks on lofts from Sparrowhawks. Pigeon meat throws weight on Sparrowhawks, check any decent falconry book and they will warn Falconers about feeding pigeon to Spars, this extra weight takes a long time to come off the Sparrowhawk. It follows then that there is no way you can give an accurate statement on how many small birds a pair of Sparrowhawks consume annually. What you can do is go to your local woodland at dawn and listen to the chorus, then come back and tell me there’s no birds about.
    If you don’t cull anything you don’t protect anything is the latest bout of bullshit doing the rounds from the shooting fraternity. The natural type world has long gone in the uk.
    Rubbish, take a look at a map, look for lakes, woodlands, hills, mountains and moor lands, go to your local parks, nature survives, its all around you. Come back with something sensible and not just the usual crap spouted in shooting magazines. Oh and should we control Blue Tits and other similar to help preserve declining Butterflies and moths, you haven’t given me an answer

    • 51 nirofo
      March 15, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      Mr Jackson, It may have escaped your notice but the Sparrowhawks have been eating the little birds for hundreds of thousands of years, the little birds are still here and so are the severely depleted by persecution Sparrowhawks.

      Maybe you don’t realise that up to 75% of all small passerine type birds will die within their first year of life regardless of whether it’s by Sparrowhawk kills, liming , netting, pesticides, depleted habitat or natural causes, and still enough will survive to breed and continue the cycle year after year.

      The number of small birds taken per year by approx 50,000 Sparrowhawks in the UK pales into insignificance when compared to the number of small birds taken by the 8 million domestic cats in this country. It is estimated that each of these friendly felines will account for on average 50 to 100 birds per year, try telling the pussy lovers that they need to cull their purring pets and see where that gets you !!!


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