GWCT reputation Dented

IMG_4874 (2) - CopyIt took the GWCT quite a while to post anything on their website about the CBE that their Chief Executive, Teresa Dent, was awarded in the Birthday Honours’ List. Maybe they were as surprised as the rest of us.

Whilst RPS has nothing against Teresa Dent personally (we’ve never met), it’s a bit difficult to know quite what she and GWCT have done to deserve this ‘honour’.  After all, the emblem of the GWCT, the Grey Partridge, is at rock-bottom despite a pile of good research and a GWCT membership of large landowners who ought to be implementing all of the GWCT’s bright ideas on the subject. Not exactly the biggest conservation success story is it? I’d rather be in charge of an organisation with the Avocet as its logo (whatever cricketing legends might say about it)!

The GWCT spouts a lot about its scientific reputation but, as Mark Avery pointed out on his blog years ago, they seem to be resting on their past laurels rather a lot (see here and here). But they are still going on about how they are a (?) or the (?) ‘leading wildlife research charity’ (e.g. see here), a name-tag rarely given to GWCT by anyone else these days.  What science has GWCT contributed to the Hen Harrier debate recently?  They don’t even seem to believe the results of their own eyes and their own research at Langholm – rating the project as a failure (see here) when others rate it as a clear success (see here). GWCT really have lost the plot!

It’s difficult to know what Teresa Dent thinks about anything as she is rarely seen in public outside of shooting circles. It is much more common to hear the GWCT’s Andrew Gilruth spouting nonsense about Hen Harriers, brood meddling and re-tweeting YFTB nonsense on Twitter.

The GWCT news item about Teresa Dent’s CBE can’t even explain what she has done! It rather cryptically says she has told people things they don’t want to know. Could this possibly mean that she sits her chairman, Ian Coghill, down and tells him that lead ammunition ought to be banned and he ought to get used to the idea? Or maybe it means that she has a word with Hawk and Owl Trust Chair Philip Merricks and tells him that brood meddling is a daft idea? Or does she tell the Moorland Association (‘a sad morons’ coalition’, for you anagram fans) and Scottish Land and Estates (‘dated tactless shits, anon’) that their members had better start getting out of driven grouse shooting before land prices drop as a ban approaches? No? Probably not.

The news item seems to think that the GWCT Council were announcing something – the announcement was made a couple of days ago by Number 10 – we all noticed it then, but the GWCT spent the weekend dozing, or dreaming of days gone by when the world outside of shooting cared what they said, and cared a little for them too.

The news item sums up the GWCT these days: vague, self-congratulatory, wrong and late.

15 Responses to “GWCT reputation Dented”

  1. 1 nirofo
    June 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Remind me, who are the GWCT ???

  2. 5 steve macsweeney
    June 15, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    If I ever do the Times crossword I might need your number…..

  3. June 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust: I think the clue is in the name! I’m utterly shocked. The CBE honour and reputation has been totally discredited by this award.

  4. 8 Douglas Malpus
    June 16, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Who knows what they get up to “banging away” on the desolate moors in a cosy butt?

    I like this “Gun & Wildlife Crime Trust” !!!!!!

  5. June 16, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I have, met Teresa Dent that is. She was very personable but did seem more comfortable in the safe surroundings of the 2014 CLA Fair, less so at The World Land Trust debate on Controversial Conservation last September in London, which is not very surprising given the topic, the speakers and attendees.

    What we all have to accept is what the GWCT’s primary objective is: to protect their sport and participants land rights. For the uninitiated, of which I number myself some years ago, much of what they say sounds plausible, but what they, the GWCT, fail to understand is when it is unpacked and understood, that which might be worthy of respect, is not trusted.

    Given the cultural history of field sport duplicity and callous derision, integrity in their marketing narrative can be hard to swallow.

  6. 10 Merlin
    June 16, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    It’s a joke organisation, it should not have wildlife conservation in its title, its members do more harm than good. The work of the organisation is to twist the science around game shooting into making it sound like its beneficial to us. The release of more than 35 million none native aggressive large pheasants into the countryside annually is more reckless than the release of mink from fur farms back in the seventies and eighties. The grey partridge is on the brink due to these large scale releases.
    In 2010 the GCWT released a success story about a study area in Sussex were they had managed to restore grey partridge numbers from less than 1 pair per 100 hectares to nearly 20 pairs per hundred hectares, they couldn’t have managed this without refraining from releasing pheasants and predator control, obviously they made more of the predator control being the reason. For some perspective on this though the same organisation recommends as a guideline releasing no more than 2000 pheasant per hundred hectares, what do you think would happen to the grey partridge population in Sussex if they now started to release this number of pheasants annually, same question about any poor breeding Lapwings, Curlews and snipe the aggressive cock pheasant chooses to try and fight with.
    The organisation is in denial, without social media no one could question its findings, its now blatently clear its main aims are to make the science fit their own agenda

    • 11 Jeff
      June 16, 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Does anyone have any information about the contribution “egg dumping” by Pheasants has on Grey Partridges? I was unaware of this until talking to a local farmer who said he had a good population of Grey Partridge until a local shoot was given permission to release Pheasants. Within a couple of years the Greys started to decline and eventually vanished; he said he was convinced it was due to egg-dumping by the hen Pheasants i.e. the situation where a Pheasant lays her eggs in a Grey’s nest and the Grey abandons after spotting the “intruding” egg(s).

      • 12 Les Wallace
        June 17, 2015 at 2:35 am

        Some really interesting observations about impact of pheasant releases here. The ecological footprint of driven grouse shooting is pretty obvious in that you see it where the grouse are shot – vast acres of muirburn with sod all wildlife, discoloured water, likelihood of more flooding downstream. With pheasant shooting it’s ‘dispersed’ – they are fed corn a product of intensive farming away from the ‘wildlife friendly’ shoot, so not so wildlife friendly after all. Perhaps worse they can be given soymeal probably from south America so another driver for rainforest destruction. I once worked at a gas company and know that those rearing pheasants use it to keep the chicks warm (not just CO2 emissions, think of all those OAPs in fuel poverty when gun fodder is being mollycoddled). What for? Raising birds to be shot for sport and most of them through predation, being hit by cars and dumping won’t actually be consumed by humans. When Martin Harper made his comments about how shooting can help conservation was he taking these issues into account? I doubt it.

        I’ve heard that one of the reasons we have such a problem with invasive rhodendron was that it had originally been planted for year round game cover. What a bloody ecological disaster that was! I came across a response from GWCT forerunner the GCT about proposed government policy on invasive species produced as recently as February 2007. It claimed that there wasn’t a problem with planting out snowberry and salmonberry etc as game cover, if they did become invasive they could easily be controlled. Really, by whom? Were those planting it in the first place going to guarantee they’d clear up the mess they’d created? Not a word of that. However, they were very insistent on how damaging the spread of polecat/ferrets would be.

        Not much has changed since then re their consistency and grasp of basic ecology. In a more recent newsletter the Scottish branch of GWCT listed the Eurasian beaver as a non native invasive along with Japanese Knotweed and gyrodactylus a particularly nasty fish parasite. The historical and current impact of sport shooting just gets bigger and bigger the more you look at it.

        • June 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm

          Thank you for this important and informative comment. While it is about the impact of pheasant releases on grouse moors, nevertheless it contains much information that will be useful in other campaigns, and this government is at war with much of our wildlife. I am actively involved in many wildlife campaigns, particularly the ones that are against the culling of badgers. The reason given for this cull, is that Bovine TB in cattle is spread by infected badgers. It is rather odd that badgers that have been shot and taken to wildlife rescues, and been subjected to post-mortems have been shown to be completely free of the disease. Before the rescues release their rta healed badgers back into the wild, they are ALL tested and none have been found with the disease. The fact is that the both the cull zones are situated next to shooting estates and the badgers are very clever at raiding the pheasant feeders. Coincidence? I think not. As the DEFRA Chief Scientist Ian Boyd told an NFU hosted TB policy conference last year, only 6% of TB infections in cattle are due to badgers, the other 94% is due to cattle to cattle disease transmission and this is where urgent action needs to be taken to get control of bovine TB.

          • 14 Les Wallace
            June 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

            Thanks Wende, the other contributors here made some cracking observations which I’ve never heard before and wouldn’t have thought of. Mine were very basic in comparison, but ecological footprinting is a fundamental way of assessing the environmental impact of any activity. In spite of the fact that considerable resources must be used in rearing tens of millions of birds for shooting annually I’ve never heard any references being made to it being carried out. Certainly believe it needs to be before wildlife organisations make statements about the conservation value of pheasant shooting – a chunk of the Amazon may have been bulldozed for soya farming to feed pheasants which end up being run over! I am obviously not involved in field sports so I can only make rather broad points from the ‘outside’, a full, proper and independent survey of the ecological impact of pheasant rearing and shooting is desperately needed (would the GWCT pay for one?). Yes and a ‘legacy’ of these wonderful traditional sports may well be the almost total loss of native fauna and flora in some of the areas choked to death with rhododendron, a hybrid of a European and American species. It beggars belief that as recently as February 2007 at least any organisation was saying it was pretty much OK to plant out snowberry. I’ve helped remove it from natural woodlands, it’s highly invasive and an utter sod to clear. There’s still so, so much that needs to come into the public domain about the horrendous shooting industry. Best of luck with your campaigning.

    • 15 steve macsweeney
      June 17, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Can’t think of a single positive impact from the intro of up to 50m pheasants and partridges into the countryside each year. Not one!
      One old shooter ( who thought I was one of the clan) told me the other day that field sports days are numbered.Could have shook his hand, but I doubt he is right.
      A justified reason to reduce the number of birds released each year could make a huge difference to the shooting activities,and associated slaughter of our indigenous wildlife.

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