14
Feb
17

Leaked email reveals Natural England’s views on Hen Harrier Action Plan

The following internal email was written by Rob Cooke (Natural England Director) on 6 February 2017:

Hen Harriers

Hen harriers (HHs) are having a rough time in England. Although juvenile birds have a high natural mortality there is plenty to suggest that illegal persecution is ongoing, either through shooting or disturbance. The level of persecution is such that it is undoubtedly having an impact on the conservation status of the species in England.  Amongst a diet usually dominated by meadow pipits and voles can be red grouse, which is where the problem arises.  As a semi-colonial nester HHs can predate high numbers of grouse which can bring them into conflict with grouse shooting.

In early 2016 Defra published the Joint Action Plan to increase the English hen harrier population. The two new elements proposed a southern reintroduction and trialling a brood management scheme; Natural England chairs sub-groups on both.  Brood management is the most controversial element. Notwithstanding that, establishing a separate southern population has attracted criticism, even from some of those who purport to want to see more HHs, presumably as they fear that it will divert attention from persecution in the uplands. The notion that anyone wanting to see more HHs can argue against a reintroduction is I’m afraid beyond me (and as I type this I can see a red kite gliding by overhead).

Put simply brood management (BM) is removing eggs/chicks from vulnerable nests, rearing them in captivity and releasing them back into the uplands.  Of course if there was no persecution threat the nests wouldn’t be vulnerable (to human persecution at any rate) and therein lies the rub.  Those opposed to BM say it effectively condones persecution, and actually more effort should be put into stopping that.  I agree with that, but in practice despite the collective efforts of us, the police, RSPB and others it has not proved possible to stop persecution.  Radio tagged birds disappear, and even when recovered proving who fired the shot is very difficult in large remote upland areas.  There is an argument being made that driven grouse shooting should be banned (rejected recently by parliament), and the RSPB’s approach is that there should be greater regulation of shooting.  Effective regulation requires effective enforcement, and in Scotland where there is a stronger regulatory framework (incl vicarious liability and SNH’s power to remove General Licences) they still have a significant ongoing HH and raptor persecution issues.

The rationale behind BM is that if upland managers have a way of managing the density HHs (so that any impact on grouse is sustainable) then there will not be a ‘need’ to persecute the birds.  Whether this is the case or not time will tell (it is a trial after all), but we need to give it a go, since there is no Plan B on the table. Undertaking BM does not mean that anyone will put any less effort into enforcement, and there will continue to be tagging and rigorous protection of nest sites, where Stephen Murphy and his network of dedicated volunteers do wonders.  Since all the birds will be returned to the uplands there should be no impact on the population (and possibly even, more chicks will survive to adulthood than would otherwise have been the case as nests do suffer natural predation). It goes without saying that the trial will be subject to full veterinary, statutory assessment and licensing processes. BM would not require the removal of all birds from grouse moors, but would kick in when a published density threshold was reached.

rowan-x-rayRecent events have resulted in a large number of FoI requests and fair bit of resultant commentary on raptor blogs.  Much of this is commentators adding up 2 and 2 and coming to 5.  In particular the huge amount of space devoted to whether NE ‘watered down’ a media release concerning Rowan’s post-mortem to say ‘likely to have been shot’, as opposed to ‘shot’.  The simple truth is that the post-mortem did not say definitively that the bird was shot so nor did we (or the RSPB either – ‘injuries consistent with being shot’).  That prosaic point aside what is really disappointing is that this focus detracts from the spotlight which needs to be shone on the continuing plight of HHs and work underway to change that.  The lurid accusation that NE is in some way colluding with those responsible for hen harrier persecution is simply absurd.

Natural England leads much of this work and criticism is par for the course; constructive criticism is good and keeps us on our toes, but it is disappointing that much destructive criticism comes from the ‘wildlife sector’; rather darkly I wonder whether those who are responsible for persecution are sitting back smugly watching this internecine bickering.  The bottom line is that there are a number of people working extremely hard to improve the status of HHs in England.  We are all working to our strengths and membership organisations need to be able to take their members with them, to persuade them and win their support; hard line approaches can lead to alienation.  I believe in the sincerity of those involved in the plan, even if we might have differing motivations, but no one is blind to the challenges; persecution still happens and it needs to stop. If this plan does not deliver then we will need to look at other approaches.

But ‘How’ is the question? Simple enforcement is not enough so we need to adopt other approaches as well. After all, our experience over the last 15 years or so is that even reducing persecution is much easier said than done. There has been progress of sorts to date; the issue is very much in the public eye, we have the Moorland Association and other representative bodies openly condemning raptor persecution, we have tackling wildlife crime as a Govt priority and we have a Govt published plan. The proof of course will be in the eating; it won’t be easy but we do need to give it a try.

We need to be robust in our objective of restoring HHs to favourable conservation status in England, and not be distracted by those who, from whatever perspective, would derail us.

ENDS

There’s so much that could be discussed /debated /argued about the content of this email that we’d be here all day, so for brevity we just wanted to focus on two aspects.

First, the statement: “I believe in the sincerity of those involved in the plan“.

pole trapOn what basis does he believe in this supposed sincerity? The plan was launched over a year ago in January 2016, with the ‘partners’ supposedly all signed up. Since then we’ve seen an armed man sitting next to a decoy hen harrier on a grouse moor in the Peak District National Park; a gamekeeper caught on film setting three illegal pole traps on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park; an endless number of raptor shootings, trappings and poisonings across England, many on or next to a grouse moor; an increase in the number of reported gas guns and banger ropes being deployed on grouse moors to deter breeding hen harriers; only three hen harrier nests in England (where there could be 330) and not one of them was on a grouse moor; and eight satellite tagged hen harrier fledglings from the 2016 season have already either ‘disappeared’ in the uplands or have been confirmed shot.

We haven’t seen any evidence whatsoever that the grouse shooting industry is sincere about stopping raptor persecution.

Secondly, we wanted to highlight Rob’s penultimate paragraph, because it really beggars belief. According to Rob, ‘there has been progress of sorts to date’ and he defines this ‘progress’ as follows:

  1. The issue is very much in the public eye. Well yes, it is, but that is no thanks to Natural England or their friends in the grouse shooting industry. Public awareness of hen harrier persecution has been increased thanks to (a) the RSPB’s Hen Harrier Life Project and (b) a hell of a lot of effort by grassroots campaigners, notably Mark Avery with his book Inglorious and his three petitions to ban driven grouse shooting, Chris Packham, LUSH, hundreds of people getting involved in BAWC’s Hen Harrier Day events across the UK for the last three years, and thousands of ordinary people using social media to great effect, day in, day out.
  2. We have the Moorland Association and other representative bodies openly condemning raptor persecution. What we actually have is the Moorland Association and other representative bodies consistently denying that raptor persecution is a big problem; consistent attacks on the RSPB, particularly from the You Forgot the Birds propaganda machine, which is funded by the grouse shooting industry; consistent personal attacks on high profile campaigners; consistent attempts to discredit RSPB persecution data, and a consistent refusal to condemn confirmed raptor persecution crimes unless pushed hard by campaigners, and even then a response is rarely forthcoming (see yesterday’s blog about the poisons cache on East Arkengarthdale Estate as a classic example).
  3. We have tackling wildlife crime as a Govt priority. Do we? Is there any evidence of this?
  4. We have a Govt published plan. We do indeed, and it has been repeatedly and deservedly criticised by conservationists. As Mark Avery often says, it is not an action plan for hen harriers, it is an action plan for grouse moor owners.

Sorry Rob, but if you think the grouse shooting industry is going to stop killing hen harriers (or any other raptors) any time soon, based on the ‘evidence’ you’ve provided, then you’re delusional.

 

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43 Responses to “Leaked email reveals Natural England’s views on Hen Harrier Action Plan”


  1. 1 Simon Tucker
    February 14, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    That’s what you get when a supposedly independent organisation is run by donors to the Party in power, whose members are overwhelmingly more likely to be involved in shooting and, by extension, condoning the criminal activities of that industry.

    Natural England is a corrupted organisation and not fit for purpose.

  2. 2 Messi
    February 14, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    One thing that Rob conveniently ignores in his dismissal of those critiquing his solution is this: hen harrier removal is only ‘needed’ if you also degrade designed driven grouse moors through ever more intensive management. If NE got a grip and finally started to see driven grouse moors as systems in crisis, not just as a hen harrier ‘problem’, we may get somewhere.

    The solution broad here is not to remove harriers and thereby make way for a legitimise damaging upland management, the solution is to reduce the intensity of driven grouse moor management.

    NE is turning its back on these broader issues. This calls for the campaign to be stepped up.

  3. 3 Alex Milne
    February 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Rob Cooke says “it is disappointing that much destructive criticism comes from the ‘wildlife sector’; rather darkly I wonder whether those who are responsible for persecution are sitting back smugly watching this internecine bickering.”
    I’m sorry, Mr. Cooke. It is not “internecine bickering”. Natural England became part of the problem a good long time ago.
    At least the upper reaches within Natural England did.
    The scientists and volunteers are working for an organisation which takes it cue from the grouse shooting industry, as this site has demonstrated so ably over time.

  4. 4 michael gill
    February 14, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    He’s right when he wonders, “whether those who are responsible for persecution are sitting back smugly watching this internecine bickering.”

    But he’s lost the plot if he thinks Natural England is part of the “Wildlife sector”.

  5. 5 michael gill
    February 14, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Cross post with Alex Milne (sorry Alex)

    • 6 Alex Milne
      February 14, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      It’s not surprising that we feel the same, Michael.
      Rob Cooke needs to admit he knows why the RSPB dropped out of this crazy scheme.

  6. February 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I suspect that I’m not alone in finding his comment regarding those who object to brood meddling as “purporting” to want to see more Hen Harriers insulting. Anyone who can suggest a scintilla of doubt that Mark Avery, Chris Packham, yourselves and many of the knowledgeable posters here are not sincere in their desire to see more Hen Harriers seems to me to have entirely lost the plot. That he seems unable to grasp that the argument isn’t against reintroduction per se but against doing so in the context of continuing, rampant and widespread illegal persecution is astonishing. Perhaps worst of all is his crass naiveté in not understanding that upland managers are already managing the density of Hen Harriers to their satisfaction by engaging in a campaign of extermination. And who exactly gave upland managers the right to determine how many protected Hen Harriers there should be? With losses of birds running at the current level even an ordinary birdwatcher like me can see that no end of half-baked palliatives undertaken in southern England will resolve the problem.

  7. 8 Andrew
    February 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    So, brood management “would kick in when a published density threshold was reached”. Not much chance of it happening then unless they can work out a way to have the threshold as “less than zero”.

    His suggestion that, survival rates may be higher because of reduced nest losses, does not account for the almost certain reduced survival rates of juveniles released and expected to learn hunting and survival techniques on the hoof as opposed to being taught by parents.

    • 9 Paul V Irving
      February 14, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Harriers are not taught to hunt by parents, they learn after they have left their parents, the reason presumably why mortality can be high at about 60% in natural populations for first year birds( not the near 100% in birds on grouse moors currently). Although wild reared birds may be at an advantage because they will probably be more used to flying and being more agile after being food passed prey by the adults. This is all not the point the whole idea of BM is to reduce densities on grouse moors to way below carrying capacity or even way below the harrier densities that moors can support without damage to grouse stocks. It is a plan for grouse management not harriers management, moors of reasonable grouse density can support 2 pairs of harriers per 5000 acres without damage, this is roughly 30 times higher than the proposed threshold for BM and populations will never behave normally at such a low density. The only sites that get birds will be honey pot sites so nearly the whole population will be BM managed. It is all bollocks anyway without a guaranteed reduction in current persecution levels.

  8. 11 Bob Morris
    February 14, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    The sublime irony of this “plan” seems to totally escape those involved in promoting it. It is like saying to a family whose children are being constantly persecuted by the bully next door that they should move house so that the bully can no longer continue harassing them.
    This plan is totally arse about face and will never be supported by right thinking people. It would be a disgrace for one Harrier to be removed, simply because a tiny minority of people want to play with guns. I will never be convinced that it is the right way forward because it is wrong in principle.

    • February 14, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      To push your metaphor further the children will still be bullied since they and the bully will be attending the same school where the headmaster & staff keep insisting bullying isn’t the issue that needs to be addressed.

    • 13 Mairi
      February 15, 2017 at 8:06 am

      Ah, yes, and as the police can’t prevent all these burglaries, anyone with over £100 of valuables should keep them in 2 big safes that they can guard! Sorted!

  9. 14 crypticmirror
    February 14, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    “Internecine Bickering” otherwise defined as “Waaaaaah, people aren’t doing what I say. Only me supposed to be boss an’ have ideas” And yes, he is right -sort of- the vested interests are playing divide and rule and NE is helping them out tremendously with its my-way-or-the-highway approach. If he wants to see an end to both then he can stop demanding that nothing happens unless he is in charge and fall inline with everyone else.

  10. 15 Steve macsweeney
    February 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    The simple truth is that anything short of a ban on driven grouse shooting will be doomed to fail.So licencing might help to achieve this, but we all know that for every dead rsptor found there will be lots more undiscovered.
    The gamekeepers are a law unto themselves in a large area of natural wilderness, so any effort to bring them to heel will only scratch the surface.I originally concluded that custodial sentences were the only answer, now I doubt it.Where there’s grouse shooting there will be raptor persecution.Simples!

  11. February 14, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    has the Board of EN been polled on what they think?

  12. February 14, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I feel that Rob Cooke is attempting to ‘tidy up’ the Hen Harrier issue, putting all the problems into nice neat folders, and hoping that his words will be enough to appease the criticisers of unNatural England, and that we shall all go away and let them just get on with their silly little plans (that aren’t helping HH’s one jot).
    He says “We need to be robust in our objective of restoring HHs to favourable conservation status in England, and not be distracted by those who, from whatever perspective, would derail us”.
    I wonder who he means by “those”, the people who criticise the management plan, or the destroyers of Hen Harriers?
    I guess not the latter.

  13. 18 Peter Shearer
    February 14, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    It really is quite astonishing how these “independent” minds work! It only takes the minimum amount of effort to see where the problem lies, unless of course you are blinded/duped by the people who are in effect the lawbreakers in this issue. It beggars belief for him to fail to understand why people might think a re-introduction plan along the lines proposed is a bad idea. The fact that he cannot see this suggests very much that the ” lurid accusation that NE is in some way colluding with those responsible for hen harrier persecution ” seems entirely reasonable. The reason the plans have not worked so far, is a total lack of determined action to enforce the law and to bring the culprits to justice. It really is simple, unless something is preventing you from seeing the answer..

    • 19 Alan Johnson
      February 14, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      It’s very sad but it’s called careers and politics. He knows the truth but he’s trapped in a continuum so almost all he CAN do is lash out at people who care, know but are not constrained like him.

      • February 15, 2017 at 8:05 pm

        No…even those “trapped” by their career and politics [what?..he never had a choice over his career direction?] do not have to resort to lashing out to people who care…only a person who is unpleasant to start with would do that.

  14. 21 Sandra Padfield
    February 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    The only positive thing I can say is, thank goodness the RSPB was intelligent and perceptive enough to pull out of this plan before their reputation was irreversibly damaged.

  15. 22 I C T
    February 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Mr Cooke should step down from his position, he lives in a world of fantasy.

  16. February 14, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Grouse shooting has never tolerated Hen harriers since it is an unsustainable land use.

    These endless diatribes from public servants who are unwilling to accept the blindingly obvious & do their jobs properly i.e. support strict control of driven game shooting do themselves no favours.
    If they were paid by results e.g. numbers of successfully breeding HH they would not be in post !
    The criminals ” sitting back smuggly ” are simply laughing at the inability of the authorities to stop them doing what they always done – kill raptors.
    The inexorable move against the grouse moor criminals moves on though & as usual it will no doubt be the dedicated amateur raptor enthusiasts who come up with the goods rather than the ” jobsworths ” fiddling around with doomed brood meddling & suchlike !

    Keep up the pressure !

  17. 24 Mick Reavey
    February 14, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Obviously, Rob and NE read these blogs, which is reassuring. He claims that NE are focused on HH recovery and there is no collusion between NE and the shooting industry. He even moans about the “destructive criticism” aimed in their direction. Quite frankly, NE had the opportunity to prove, and once and for all that they were impartial on this subject during the Parliamentary debate. What evidence did they submit? They have plenty, that’s for certain.
    Furthermore, the majority of criticism they receive would appear to be skewed toward the “wildlife sector.” Rob must ask why this is the case. The criminals and people who profit from this persecution seem to be a lot less vocal, why is this? Because NE are pandering to their demands?
    I’m sure Rob is a sincere person and may even believe what he claims to be true in this email. However, NE have done very little to show they have even listened to the “wildlife sector” concerns.
    If any meaningful dialogue is to take place NE need to show they are prepared to get tough with perpetrators. If not, criticism, persecution and mistrust will continue and wildlife will, ultimately be the loser.
    Personally speaking, I doubt NE, as a whole, give a toss about wildlife but that’s only my humble opinion.

  18. 25 Iain Gibson
    February 14, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Reading this leaked email, I gasped several times with astonishment at the naivety of the Director of Natural England no less. Does he live on a different planet? However this certainly reinforces my belief that most of the proponents of the infamous Action Plan for grouse shooting have very little understanding of the ecology of the Hen Harrier. How can those possessed with such ignorance possibly be in charge of developing and implementing such a plan?

    Cooke alleges that “As a semi-colonial nester [Hen Harriers] can predate high numbers of grouse which can bring them into conflict with grouse shooting.” What he fails to mention in this simplistic statement is that the so-called problem is part of a natural cycle, whereby the extent of semi-colonial nesting is determined by the density of the field vole population. It is caused by high vole numbers, although it can be difficult to draw the line between the high part of a regular population cycle and a ‘vole plague.’ That’s an academic conundrum yet to be fully resolved.

    Myself and a team of several other RSG members monitor breeding harriers on a group of contiguous grouse moors in southwest Scotland, and as part of our research we also monitor numbers of certain other species, notably potential harrier prey species Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse and Field Vole. Our findings suggest very strongly that in years of relatively high vole populations, which can persist for a decade or more, the harrier population builds, and semi-colonial nesting results from the birds exploiting the abundance of voles. During such a period we found that the harriers rarely took grouse, with pipits and field voles constituting a very high percentage of prey identified. In fact cameras at four nests recorded not a single grouse among a total of almost 2,000 prey items. Interestingly in periods of very low vole population, all three of these prey species declined, possibly because Red Foxes resorted to them when their favoured prey items, field voles, declined. There is nothing alarming or unusual in the natural ecosystem operating in this manner, and no need to persecute predators.

    From what I know of the Langholm studies, presumably the font of NE’s total knowledge, a high harrier population appears to have resorted to preying upon large numbers of grouse chicks in year one of the field voles crashing, a relatively uncommon circumstance. This would seem likely to occur most acutely if the voles crash after the start of the harrier breeding season. In subsequent years the harrier numbers declined, presumably not as a result of persecution but simply the population dispersing in search of vole abundance elsewhere, involving a combination of reduced recruitment and low productivity. Around the same time several other harrier SSSIs in southern Scotland were largely abandoned for the same apparent reason.

    For the Hen Harrier population in the UK to breed sustainably, we need to end persecution, not just give in to criminality as being inevitable and uncontrollable. For Natural England to suggest giving in to the nasty brigade as being the only solution is absolutely disgraceful in my opinion. It is a key part of the harriers’ successful breeding strategy to nest semi-colonially when prey abundance is high, in a somewhat similar breeding strategy to the Short-eared Owl. As time goes by, it would appear that the only way to end persecution is to give up grouse shooting, which would benefit both the environment and ecology of the heather moorland ecosystem. We have to fight to overcome Natural England’s pathetically weak approach, and in the meantime continue to pressurise the Government and the Police to strengthen their resolve to defeat the criminals.

    • 26 Paul V Irving
      February 14, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you Iain, explaining something I sort of knew but bringing it all together so elegantly and making it quite quite clear why BM and the Recovery Plan is a total travesty in terms of ever having a normally behaving harrier population.

    • 27 Mick Reavey
      February 14, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Beautifully written and highly informative. Thank you.

  19. 28 Mike
    February 14, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    Somehow I gain the impression that Rob Cooke is taking this stance against the destructive criticism of the wildlife sector who make 5 out of 2 and 2 yet he neglects to take a strong and critical line, with demands, upon the Moorland Association and the other organisations!
    It beggars belief that the situation is skewed so far out of line and that the man actually believes that they are on the right course!

  20. February 14, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I’m sorry but are we really sure that this is a bone fide e-mail? It seems incredibly long for an internal e-mail. In what context was it sent and to whom? It seems deliberately crafted to me and the line

    “and as I type this I can see a red kite gliding by”

    I mean come on, if that’s not a deliberate nod to the Moorland Association I don’t know what is. Looks a bit fishy to me!

  21. 30 Coop
    February 14, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    “The rationale behind BM is that if upland managers have a way of managing the density HHs (so that any impact on grouse is sustainable) then there will not be a ‘need’ to persecute the birds.”

    The “impact on grouse” IS sustainable, Mr Cooke. It has been so ever since the the species evolved! I suggest that what you really mean (and what you’re obviously more concerned with) is the impact on Driven Grouse Shooting.

  22. 31 Dylanben
    February 14, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Does anyone know who the email was addressed to?

  23. 33 Andy Field
    February 14, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    I have to agree with Samuel, this looks like just the sort of message someone might write with the intention of “leaking” to try to “unintentionally” position NE as an honest broker! Anything to back up how genuine this is?

    • 34 Dylanben
      February 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      Hence my question above. Looks like a message which was intended for leaking.

      • 35 Flash
        February 15, 2017 at 12:19 am

        To me it reads like a briefing note to be sent to the board members, so that they have some understanding of the topic and can answer awkward questions on it. A board member might even have asked Rob for it, although it was probably written for him by his internal orithological advisers. That’s usually the way it works!

  24. February 14, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    The encouraging thing I take from this leaked internal email is that it is a desperate attempt to persuade NE staff that they are doing the right thing. Toe the line.

    The fact that it has been leaked – clearly indicates that there are people in NE (from my contacts, probably most staff) who believe quite the opposite. My understanding is the involvement in the action plan is viewed as a highly embarrassing diktat from…above.

    Mr Cooke, you are neither convincing your staff nor the public….. how about a spell in charge of agricultural grants…more admin and less science?
    “and as I type this I can see a red kite gliding by overhead).”….or is it a flying pig?

  25. 37 Roderick Leslie
    February 15, 2017 at 10:50 am

    For the purposes of Hen harrier conservation there is no conflict within the wildlife sector – because NE is not now in it, it is in the shooting sector.

    I have some sympathy with Rob: under present political direction he and others in NE have to try and put the best gloss possible on what they are doing. However, readers of this blog need to recognise that EN/NE have never really been independent. It just doesn’t work that way: when they are described as ‘arms length bodies’ that is in the sense of being just far enough away to give a good punch on the nose.

    In the meantime, only the Forestry Commission has to worry about high Hen Harrier densities in England.

    • 38 Messi
      February 15, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Quite right regarding the political straightjacket NE is in at the moment – we’re living in the part of the political cycle during which those most sympathetic to the landed criminal classes are in power, and there’s no effective political opposition. NE staffers could stand up and say what they actually think, but life will be made impossible, they’ll resign, and new compliant staff will be found to take their place. I worked with one guy at NE in the east who left a well-paid city job for a more ‘pleasant’ position in NE; he doesn’t rock the boat with big SSSI owners, doesn’t ruffle feathers, his SSSIs are in perpetual ‘unfavourable recovering’ condition (not much going on, in other words), and he’s working his way up through the organisation.

      We could really do with one or two really calm, charismatic, persuasive publicly visible advocates, like Mark A but thumping the podium at rallies on live TV and on Question Time! Unfortunately the RSPB has a very quiet CEO (of course one should not underestimate the determination of a quiet man); the Wildlife Trusts has a biggish-ticket president in Tony Juniper but I’ve seen no evidence of him grasping this particular nettle; and…….I can’t think of anyone else!

      As I’ve said before, I think we need a new beast – a Campaign for British Wildlife or similar – dedicated to that calm, coherent, persuasive and visible advocacy nature needs.

  26. February 15, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Its quite clear that the police are powerless to stop murderers. Murder continues to claim victims across the country so obviously the effort put into catching and prosecuting murderers is wasted. Instead we should take all potential victims and re-locate them to parts of the country with notably low murder rates such as the Isle of Man and Dartmoor. When the potential victims feel nice and safe we can happily allow them to return to areas where murderers continue to commit their crimes. It’s quite likely that the potential victims that might have died from inner city pollution or road traffic accidents will be saved by this measure. This evacuation will obviously mean there are lots of healthy people in areas of high violence… er… Just a minute, I think I see my mistake here, the murderers will still be there ready to go on murdering with impunity. OK well, not to worry as quite a lot of the murderers have stated publicly that they are really lovely people and have no intention of murdering anyone, and actually want to do all they can to help potential victims. What really riles me is that there are people who say they are very much committed to murder prevention and victim support who are actually campaigning to stop this mass move to rural safety… do they really expect to be taken seriously if they can’t even support this mass relocation, I don’t think so.

  27. 41 Alister J Clunas
    February 16, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Let’s pretend that the Moorland Association is genuine in condemning raptor persecution.
    Let’s pretend that Brood Meddling will spread Hen Harriers so thinly that gamekeepers will learn to love them.
    Let’s pretend that Brood Meddling will lead to gamekeepers having one pair of Hen Harriers on their beat where before their default option was none.
    Let’s pretend that the money that will be spent on the “southern” Hen Harrier reintroduction programme could not have been better spent on wildlife crime detection and enforcement.
    Let’s pretend that the reintroduced “southern” Hen Harrier population can be trained to stay put and not be tempted to stray up north and annoy gamekeepers.
    Let’s pretend that Amanda Anderson sees a Hen Harrier through her window leading to Brood Meddling being declared a success.
    Welcome to La La Land


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