21
May
20

Wild Justice response to RSPB consultation on gamebird shooting

Last year the RSPB announced it was undertaking a policy review on gamebird shooting (see here).

This was prompted by ongoing environmental concerns including ‘the ongoing and systematic illegal persecution of birds of prey such as hen harriers on some sporting estates; the ecological impact of high numbers of game birds released into the countryside increasing the density of generalist predators; the mass culling of mountain hares in some parts of our uplands; the use of lead ammunition; the impact of burning peatlands and medicating wild animals for sport shooting’.

The policy review process comprises three elements, including a consultation of RSPB members as well as with others with an interest in gamebird shooting, whether that be for or against (see here).

[Shot pheasants, photo by Getty]

The consultation period closed in April and the RSPB is currently assessing those responses and intends to publish them (or at least those who gave permission for their response to be published) in due course.

Nine organisations from the game shooting industry have already published their joint response, which was interesting in that they chose to write a letter waffling on about the GWCT’s proposed ‘principles of gamebird management’ instead of responding to the questions posed in the RSPB’s consultation questionnaire. The tired old cliches are all in there and the obligatory accusation that the RSPB threatens future ‘partnership working’ (ahem) if it decides to change its stance on gamebird shooting. The game shooting industry’s letter can be read here: RSPB-consultation-Shooting Industry response-16-04-20

Wild Justice also responded to the consultation and its response has been published on its blog today – see here. As with the game shooting industry response, you’ll probably detect some irritation from Wild Justice with some of the RSPB’s proposed principles, and this irritation builds throughout the WJ response, but for completely different reasons to the irritation shown by the game shooting industry!

Irritations aside, the RSPB’s policy review of game shooting is very welcome and it’ll be fascinating to see where it ends up. The results are due to be announced at the RSPB AGM in October.


15 Responses to “Wild Justice response to RSPB consultation on gamebird shooting”


  1. 1 Paul Fisher
    May 21, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    ‘This isn’t a debate that is starting with this RSPB consultation; there is a lot of background and history with which the RSPB has not adequately engaged.’

    That last sentence says it all and is in fact, I believe, going to prove the stumbling block.
    The RSPB have for far to long, been afraid to confront this issue head on with it members.
    The vast majority of members pay their yearly subs believing that the RSPB will address issues such as this strongly. And aren’t they entitled to believe that?
    This will come as a surprise to most members that this has been going on for very many years and they may still believe that it can’t be that bad or else their society would have done something years ago. Surely!
    The RSPB are in danger of getting a muted response to the survey simply because they themselves have been so muted on the subject.

    Where were the five page articles in Birds, or lately Nature’s Home(grrr), that this issue deserved? Why when they do chose to publish a snippet, is it hidden away in a corner of the News section?
    Why, even when finally asking their members for views, do they chose to tell them that it is only happening on ‘some estates’? Exactly where are all these ‘good’ estates that have nesting HH, GE, Ravens and countless others that should be on their ‘good’ estates? Where are all these estates that choose not to burn, not to foul water supplies? Which ones ban the killing of mammals, the burning of amphibians, the slaughter of our precious mountain hare?
    Where are these good estates RSPB? I challenge you, the RSPB, to name ten good estates. Just ten that follow what you would describe as good practice. And if you can’t do that, then stop bullshiting your members!
    Stop placating the criminals, end this softly softly approach, you’ve talked to these people for decades now and it has done no good whatsoever and you know it.
    Support your volunteers, support your wonderful investigations team, support all the raptor workers that you have failed in the past and GROW SOME BALLS!

    For clarity, I am a life member.

    • 2 Stephen Lewis
      May 21, 2020 at 5:08 pm

      Well said Paul, full marks. Also full marks to WJ for their response: clear, concise, well informed and no bullshit about licensing. Bang on. I fear that the RSPB would be more accurately titled ‘The Royal Society for the Protection of SOME Birds’. I left the RSPB years ago (after trying to constructively engage with them and being told to very politely piss off…) due to Paul’s well made points.

      Can you imagine if the RSPB came out and actively campaigned for a ban of DGS and other shooting ‘hobbies’? Why is WJ doing the RSPB’s job (with much smaller resources) for it? With the RSPB’s massive resources that could be a game-changer in a campaign for a ban. Instead, we get some bollocks about licensing and regulation etc. Decades have passed and the shooing industry has stuck two fingers up to everyone and will NEVER change voluntarily. Surely to god the RSPB can see that fact? Time to sell less cups of coffee in visitor centres and do some real conservation work and in addition to BALLS let’s see some TEETH and a willingness to use them! They do that and I’ll join back up ASAP.

  2. May 21, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    Excellent response Paul, summed up with….’end this softly softly approach’….which as you rightly point out has done no good whatsoever, and I’m personally proud of your Life Membership too, for a society which needs to GROW SOME BALLS! and stop bullshiting it’s members

  3. 4 Keith Dancey
    May 21, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    “The RSPB have for far to long, been afraid to confront this issue head on with it members.”

    Probably because their patron is a shooter? They have a dilema. In due course, their patron will die, and then what, I wonder?

    “The RSPB are in danger of getting a muted response to the survey simply because they themselves have been so muted on the subject.”

    I think that is possible. But my response was not muted, although I was careful it was not bitter, either.

    “Where are all these estates that choose not to burn, not to foul water supplies? Which ones ban the killing of mammals, the burning of amphibians, the slaughter of our precious mountain hare?” – lowland shooting estates. There is a lot more than one issue, here.

  4. 5 Tonyb
    May 21, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    As a member of the RSPB since sometime in the seventies I must have missed this consultation as my opinion was not asked for (Ban ALL shooting if anyone did ask) but as far as I am aware the RSPB are still allowing shooting on some reserves as well as Larsen traps which in my opinion should also be banned.Its time to ask members properly to see if their money is going towards the protection of all birds.

  5. 6 Keith Dancey
    May 21, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    “As a member of the RSPB since sometime in the seventies I must have missed this consultation as my opinion was not asked for”

    It was publicised here and on Martin Harper’s blog, and anyone could contribute. The RSPB contacted a sample of their membership directly.

    • 7 Tonyb
      May 21, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      Fair enough,but why not ask all members directly.

      • 8 Paul Fisher
        May 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm

        Lack of said Balls Tony. Can you imagine the stink if they owned up to all 1.2 million members. ‘Er, no, sorry, we never told you why we don’t protect raptors, and discussed this only with criminals, we didn’t think it important’.
        Let’s hope the new boss isn’t the same as the old boss.

      • 10 Keith Dancey
        May 21, 2020 at 9:50 pm

        I don’t know why. Maybe they wanted to get the opinions of a statistical cross section, knowing/believing that the committed would contribute, anyway?

        This is a big deal for the RSPB, because their long term patron is a long-time shooter. Queenie is very popular, especially at her age. The media would crucify the RSPB for sacking the Head of State. It could be torn to pieces. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? So it probably feels it has to tread carefully, and it may like to know what the ‘less committed’ think, to ascertain how many might resign in protest at a perceived ‘insult’ to the Queen, and whether they felt strongly enough to weather any potential storm?

        Simultaneously, the devastation caused by the shooting industry is accelerating and simply cannot be ignored. Something clearly has to give.

        I have suggested that it change its title to the PSPB: the People’s Society for the Protection of Birds, and end Royal Patronage. The timing of such a move would be quite important.

        Maybe Queenie will graciously accept her life-long hobby is no longer acceptable? Maybe it won’t be seen as an insult? Maybe the vast majority of everyone will simply accept that things have to change, considering the gross ecological damage the shooting industry is causing? Who knows?

        We will shortly find out (something).

  6. 11 Paul V Irving
    May 21, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    I think Paul has the right of it RSPB has been far too softly softly approach on almost all issues to do with game management. yes they need to man up if that means having grow balls fair enough.
    I also read the shooting lobby submission — trite shite immediately springs to mind how can shooting be sustainable if it is dependent on killing lots of predators every year and the release of some 60 yes 60 million alien game birds. They must have a very different understanding to me of the word sustainable. I suspect their financial figures are rather optimistic too.

  7. 12 John F. Robins
    May 22, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    In the 1980s many folk were disgusted that the Scottish SPCA would not oppose fox hunting and had fox hunters on its Board. It took activists creating adverse publicity by taking the remains of hunted foxes to the SSPCA AGM to force the SSPCA to change policy on the issue. Perhaps presenting the bodies of shot, trapped and poisoned raptors at the RSPB AGM will make them take a much harder line on grouse shooting estates?

  8. 13 Gareth Huw Lewis
    May 23, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Well done once again to Wild Justice for responding in a clear and evidence based way to the RSPB consultation on Game Bird Shooting. The tripe submitted to the RSPB by shooting organisations is as expected-they know that the days of Driven Grouse Shooting in particular and hopefully other aspects of game bird shooting are numbered as they have completely failed to weed out their ” bad apples”-leading me to conclude clearly that they are dominated and mainly populated by bad apples(criminals)

    I have been a member of the RSPB since 1984 and yes, I do expect them as a priority to take this matter on. They will greatly benefit from the refreshing expertise delivered by Wild Justice, along with WJ’s erudite approach and clear thinking-to “tell it like it is” It is crucially important for the membership of the RSPB and it’s National and International reputation that it takes a firm and no nonsense approach to Game shooting-I would expect it at the very least to vote to support the Banning of Driven Grouse Shooting-this pernicious and disgusting practice has no place in our modern society

    Unfortunately, we all know that institutional blindness pervades certain aspects and tiers of British Society and there are a disproportionate number of Shooters and Estate Owners(often the same thing) dominating the powerful Parliamentary Lobby in relation to the current Political Party in office. Such estate owners have deep pockets to support a certain political party who are therefore not inclined to get off their backsides and do the right thing as other countries with a less medieval approach such as Spain have done and treated wildlife criminals with the approach that is more fitting for them-yes efficient conviction and imprisonment along with removal of shooting licences on the land where the shooting/trapping/poisoning offences took place and where VICARIOUS LIABILITY must apply

    The above measures should I hope be included in RSPB policy when the organisation finally decides what to do about this issue

  9. May 24, 2020 at 11:08 am

    This is a vole year. This means mass food for raptors on Red Grouse moors. One of the main species seen is Short eared Owl. Sadly they are removed 1/ for potential taking of Red Grouse chicks. 2/ For disturbing a drive come 12th August. Not one incident for SEO shown on your chart! But as we know certain protected sites in vole years have had record breeding success of 42 and 27 pairs [hard to count this year due to lack of workers on the ground] What this has also shown is nil breeding on Red Grouse moors on the boundaries of these areas! Do voles not like these areas? The opposite with mass removal of predators the young of the protected birds then move onto the Red Grouse moor to find this now abundant food and guess what happens to them! The point I am making is, what point a chart showing the doomed birds recorded when, on mass, many birds have been removed and can be clearly shown for the lack of breeding on these Red Grouse moors.

    • 15 Keith Dancey
      May 24, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      I find your argument incomprehensible. What ‘chart’? There is no chart in this particular blog. What does “success of 42 and 27 pairs” mean. Is it English? What does “on Red Grouse moors on the boundaries of these areas” mean? Which areas, ferchrissake? As for the last sentence! Does that mean anything at all? It refers to a non-existent chart and ‘doomed birds recorded’ – what does that mean?


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