I spoke to an audience of 160 folk in a church in Preston on Monday evening. I enjoyed it.
There were some familiar faces in the audience (some raptor workers, some RSPB staff, some birders, some regular readers of and commenters on this blog and some BASC staff). It made the evening more interesting to have about a dozen people from a shooting background present. They were very welcome, and mostly well-behaved.
Here is one report of the evening which seems to miss out quite a lot…
Preston’s a long way for me to travel but it would be a comedy evening to hear this event if it included such gems as came from the shooting community on Monday night, such as…
The RSPB is a major cause of Hen Harrier deaths not gamekeepers
Walkers and ramblers bring nothing to the rural economy
It’s a lie that there is a lot of lead in the meat of Red Grouse shot with lead pellets
It raises a question that often pops into my mind – do the authors of these remarks believe them? I think they do, which is a bit sad but I think that these thoughts are put into the heads of the susceptible by people who know perfectly well that these arguments are false.
I don’t doubt that the woman who was slightly inarticulately blaming the RSPB for the lack of Hen Harriers in England believes that to be the case – but I wonder where she got that idea? Some BASC staff, who I have heard use the same argument, cannot possibly believe that. They really aren’t that stupid.
But no matter, my aim is not to persuade the shooting community to admit their errors but to mobilise our supporters and the neutral public to realise that driven grouse shooting is an anachronism and one which is underpinned by wildlife crime and unsustainable land management which harms us all.
And slowly, slowly, we are winning that battle. When Countryfile talks sense about moorland burning then we know that things are changing. And remember that this year is going to be another bad year for driven grouse shooting.
And on the way back from Preston, via Bowland and Walshaw Moor yesterday I remembered those words of Gandhi, that I first heard from the mouth of Chris Packham on the first Hen Harrier Day in 2014, ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win’. We will win!