Two weeks ago the Yorkshire Post published an article about how well waders were doing on the North York Moors, according to the results of a survey conducted by the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA) and Natural England.
According to the North York Moors biodiversity action plan, the North York Moors National Park ‘contains the largest patch of continuous heather moorland in England and holds over 10% of the country’s resource. Most of the moors are privately owned and are managed for sheep grazing and grouse shooting’ [with the Hawk & Owl Trust’s Fylingdales Moor a notable and welcome exception].
The survey suggested that golden plover had reached an 18-year high on these moors, there had been no decline in breeding lapwing and populations of curlew were ‘holding steady, bucking a national declining trend’.
The article included a quote from David Renwick, the Director of Conservation at the NYMNPA:
“Thanks must go to landowners and gamekeepers who have not only supported our survey work but are keen to create favourable habitats and conditions for these birds“.
That’s an interesting statement from the National Park’s Director of Conservation, who apparently “is an ecologist by training“. Presumably, his ecology training would have led him to question why these waders are doing so well on these moors. Could it be, perhaps, that all the waders’ natural predators have been eradicated from these moors? Is that what he means when he congratulates landowners and gamekeepers for creating ‘favourable habitats and conditions’?
North Yorkshire has the well-deserved status of being the worst place for reported raptor persecution incidents in the whole of the UK. We’ve blogged about it previously (here and here). It has held this status for six of the last seven years (being pipped to the post in 2011 when it came a close second to Lancashire). Here are the data, sourced from the RSPB’s excellent annual Birdcrime reports:
2013: 23 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #1 worst in UK
2012: 34 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #1 worst in UK
2011: 33 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #2 (Lanacashire #1 with 36 incidents)
2010: 54 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #1 worst in UK
2009: 27 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: joint #1 worst in UK (with Cumbria)
2008: 24 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #1 worst in UK
2007: 78 known incidents of raptor persecution. Status: #1 worst in UK
We looked in the biodiversity action plan and on the NYMNPA website for any information about how they specifically planned to address these appalling statistics but couldn’t find very much. We did, though, find an invitation to an open day to ‘meet the countryside protectors’. Marvellous.