Henry received a warm welcome from his friends at the RSPB HQ at The Lodge (photo by Guy Shorrock).
The RSPB has faced an increasing amount of criticism in recent months, from both ‘sides’ of the Hen Harrier ‘issue’.
Some from ‘our side’ have been critical because the RSPB has, so far, refused to sign up to the call for a ban on driven grouse shooting and instead has called for a system of grouse moor licensing. The RSPB’s CEO, Dr Mike Clarke, re-emphasised this position in a speech he made at the CLA Game Fair last Friday (see here). It’s a position that many of us find bewildering and some of us would say the criticism is thus deserved but, as public pressure grows, the RSPB may well re-evaluate its stance. Indeed, Dr Clarke said: “But the longer it takes any industry to address its problems, the stronger those calls [to ban driven grouse shooting] will become“.
Whatever your view on licensing or banning driven grouse shooting, it seems pretty counter-productive to attack an organisation that is doing a great deal of work on ‘our side’ for hen harriers (e.g. see list here), instead of aiming our ire squarely at the organisations responsible for the loss of, literally, thousands of hen harriers through shooting them, trapping them, bludgeoning them to death, poisoning them, burning out their nests and stamping on their chicks. Doesn’t it?
Other criticism of the RSPB has emerged from a group calling itself You Forgot the Birds, fronted by ex-cricketer Ian Botham and funded by the British grouse industry. We’ve blogged about them previously (here, here). In today’s Telegraph (see here), an article penned by ‘journalist’ Javier Espinoza claims that a forthcoming government report (by Natural England) will criticise the RSPB for failing to protect six hen harrier nests this year and, further, that ‘the remaining six successful nests – which were on or next to grouse moors – had no RSPB involvement and performed well’.
That’s very interesting. We’ve spoken to Natural England and have been told no such report exists, nor is one planned. In addition, we also know that the six remaining hen harrier nests in England this year were NOT all on or next to driven grouse moors – far from it!
Mr Espinoza seems to have taken a press release issued by YFTB and just published it without doing any fact checking. Not really a surprise from the Telegraph but an indication of the desperate measures being employed by the British grouse industry. They’re rattled, and so they should be. The social media Thunderclap timed to coincide with Hen Harrier Day (this Sunday) will see over five million simultaneous messages going out at 10am saying ‘We’re missing our hen harriers – and we want them back’. That message will be seen by over five million social media users – there’s still time to sign up and help increase the public reach – sign up here if you have a facebook or twitter account.
The British grouse industry is also rattled by the current e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which is doing well – please sign it here.