Don’t laugh, but gamekeepers claim to “care deeply” about protecting hen harriers!

It’s not quite April Fools’ Day but the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation thought it’d get in there early this year.

Just a week on from the publication of a scientific paper that demonstrated the catastrophic loss of satellite-tagged hen harriers was undeniably linked to land managed by gamekeepers for grouse shooting (see here), the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) published this on its website:

Amazing, eh?

Remind us again, NGO – where was the last known location of the latest hen harrier to ‘disappear’ in suspicious circumstances? Ah yes, in Wiltshire, close to the proposed hen harrier reintroduction site and in an area heavily managed for pheasant and partridge shooting. And what did the NGO say about this bird’s disappearance? Ah yes, that it was “a set up” by the RSPB.

And remind us again, NGO – what examples do you have of the NGO “living in harmony with buzzards“? Ah yes, you supported a gamekeeper (who had a prior poison-related conviction) to get licences to kill buzzards to ‘protect’ his pheasants.

And remind us again, NGO – what was your most recent action on the RPPDG, the group that’s supposed to tackle illegal raptor persecution? Ah yes, it was to resign.

And please could you tell us, NGO, what is “Circus cyaneusto“?! Is this an imaginary harrier species, to match the gamekeepers’ imaginary devotion to hen harriers that we’re supposed to believe?

Not so much April Fools, more like deluded fools.


18 Responses to “Don’t laugh, but gamekeepers claim to “care deeply” about protecting hen harriers!”

  1. 1 Chris Batchelor
    March 29, 2019 at 11:42 am

    They will take care of raptors the way the Mafia takes care of informers. Of course, this nonsense isn’t aimed at us, but at the lamentably ill informed ‘great British public’, with a side swipe at the RSPB.

  2. 2 Loki
    March 29, 2019 at 11:44 am

    The only bit they got right is ‘Circus’ which it bloody well is with these swines.

    Great reporting RPUK. Keep calling them out!

  3. 3 Ben Gun
    March 29, 2019 at 11:48 am

    ” care deeply about Hen Harriers”

    Deeply enough to spend days and nights searching for them, once you find them no one else ever does!!!

    Can only treat the public like idiots for so long.

  4. March 29, 2019 at 11:51 am

    I know that you said not to laugh, but I couldn’t help it.
    The very idea, even as they say they do have Natural England and DEFRA battling to save the Hen Harrier from extinction in Northern England with the NGO willingly on board, is completely preposterous.
    Where has the NGO been when the England population crashed to near zero. I know, but perhaps I’d better not say.
    I’ve a better idea, for the NGO. Get on board with Nick Lyall and the RPPDG, and this time, let’s be serious, shall we?
    Forget the Southern reintroduction and the brood meddling in the North of England
    If the RPPDG at last works without their participation, and does end up in some proper raptor persecution convictions, the NGO may yet regret their present stance.

  5. March 29, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    What a fascinating missive.

    This organisation clearly has an image it wants to protect and story it wants to tell the world about what splendid chap its members are.

    If it were not for the fact that the story is likely to be received sympathetically by its own audience, it would be utterly laughable.

    And if its own idea of itself were not such transparent bollocks, endeavouring presumably to conceal the murderous entitlement of its members to the rest of us who, it seems to believe must be even more stupid than they actually are, it might be possible to engage rationally with these people.

    To be honest, the only way I can see of engaging with the content of this bizarre verbiage is psychoanalytically. So much delusion and projection, such complete disregard for scientific literature, such blatant exclusion of matters that interfere with its self aggrandisement. Actually it is quite infantile.

    Having thus discovered there is no room for reason here, how on earth is it ever going to be possible to establish more compassionate land management practices?

    When does the word “custodian” begin to be meaningful?

  6. 6 Dr Paul Fuitzpatrick
    March 29, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Ok Obvious nonsense, but this is a very clear narrative with a clearly defined set of readers in mind; their own constituents and the public. In that context this reads very well. RPUK and the RSPB are extremely good at deploying evidenced based counter narratives, but we, the informed majority, need to contribute too. We need to swallow our outrange and calmly destroy the lies and propaganda in our own areas of interest and social media. I am a Psychologist and outrange and anger don’t play well on the public stage: facts, humour and consistency do. RPUK are brilliant at this and I for one, will be following their lead.

    • 7 Loki
      March 29, 2019 at 12:50 pm

      I disagree. Outrage and anger have their place if managed effectively and appropriately. Mainstream society connects with emotion rather than facts and it will be societal shift that will end the killing once and for all.

    • 8 Loki
      March 29, 2019 at 1:18 pm

      Nine years on and where have facts, humour and consistency got us? Outrage has its place!

  7. March 29, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    Absolute bullshit, all keepers are interested in is dead birds of prey.

  8. 10 Simon Tucker
    March 29, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I spent a couple of hours at a meeting organised by a local farmer about trying to reverse the decline of lowland breeding curlew in Wiltshire. Astonishingly, given that there was a dairy farmers meeting the same evening, over 50 people, many farmers, attended. After a couple of really good, interesting and informative talks by Mary Colwell, who wrote “Curlew Moon”, her account of her 500 mile walk for Curlew, and then by Jonny Cooper, representing the Swindon & Wiltshire Biological Records Centre, we went to questions.

    It took just a couple of minutes before the first farmer to raise the spectre of birds of prey making it impossible for any scheme to succeed: specifically they mentioned buzzards and red kites and teh fact that they aren’t allowed to kill them “now”.

    The total failure of some farmers to understand that the loss of the curlew was a result of changing farming practices and that buzzards and, latterly, red kites, were hardly common species when the decline happened, and that their feeding habits are not exactly focused on breeding curlew, was ignored. I have no doubt hen harriers will join the list of potential curlew predators to be culled if it ever comes to pass.

    We need an intensive education of farmers to understand teh natural world and their role as guardians of the countryside. Unfortunately, all of their representative organisations are backward looking Luddites with no true understanding of conservation: just bottom lines and killing.

  9. March 29, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    “the birds are notoriously poor survivors in their first year..”..well, they got that bit right….

    • 13 linda Dobson
      March 29, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      My particular thing is Osprey, & as a rule of thumb we’re told ‘about 1 in 3 survive the 1st year. Never heard them called ”notoriously poor survivors, though!

  10. 14 Jonathan Wallace
    March 29, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    If electoral campaigns around the world in recent years have taught us anything it is that brazen dishonesty is a highly effective approach in persuading lots of people to come to your side. I am sure that the NGO will also get some good PR mileage from its claims to being the Hen Harrier’s best friend. It’s up to us to make sure that we counter the bovine excrement at every opportunity.

    The press release did get one thing right though – gamekeepers do have a key role to play in the recovery of hen harriers: they can have an amazing positive impact on hen harrier populations by the simple expedient of just stopping persecuting them.

  11. 15 Paul V Irving
    March 29, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I( note that they claim a natural first year mortality rate for Hen Harriers of 70%, that’ll be the natural mortality they induce by roost shooting will it! Its hard to read such bunkum knowing what their upland colleagues do as a routine.

  12. 16 Jimmy
    March 29, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Bunch of Jokers – just like the SGA up North!!

  13. March 29, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    It will of course be a sad but notable irony when the meddled and reintroduced HH chicks fledge and their tags disappear thanks to the keepers who love them so much.

    Keep up the pressure !

  14. 18 Anon
    March 31, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Here’s an idea.

    1. Drop legal cases.

    2. Allow both brood meddling and southern reintroduction.

    3. Satellite tag all released chicks with the new sat tags which transmit frequently enough to identify last known locations.

    4. Display all tag locations on real time (RP PDG?) website and publicise it to all and sundry.

    5. As soon as a single hen harrier disappears in suspicious circumstances on a grouse start a (staged) process to ban driven grouse shooting.

    6. Ask Raptor Persecution PDG to monitor progress. All RP PDG member organisations to provide on call staff to accompany police and RSPB to look for / pick up corpses.

    Ask RP PDG to assess whether this be a possible course of action to break the deadlock.

    At every point when an RP PDG member comes up with a reason why one of these points would not be possible, investigate why – e.g. facts, evidence, principle, opinion, practical reasons – and whether RP PDG members think the issues are surmountable.

    Start with IUCN criterion of cause of decline not addressed. If anyone responsible for killing hen harriers agrees not to kill hen harriers, this should not be an issue.

    Even if this doesn’t happen, it would be a cathartic and informative discussion session for the RP PDG.

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