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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


RSPB begins to lose patience with grouse shooters

The RSPB held a ‘debate’ on the future of grouse shooting in Westminster last week. You can listen, though it is difficult to hear everything, and it is quite long, to the ‘debate’ here.

It’s a pity there isn’t a video because then we could all check on the accuracy of the reports that the RSPB’s Conservation Director was pinned up against a wall by a finger-wagging Nicholas Soames. It can’t be true surely, but I can’t imagine they would ‘click‘.

The panel was; the Hen Harrier Champion in Westminster, Angela Smith MP; former Defra minister who turned down the idea of vicarious liability for wildlife crimes, and grouse moor owner, Richard Benyon MP; former gamekeeper of the Holkham Estate and Langholm Estate, Simon Lester; former gamekeeper and current conservation manager of the Holkham Estate, Jake Fiennes; and chair of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group, Superintendent Nick Lyall.

All said interesting things, up to a point, though if I had a very strong feeling of deja entendu in hearing Angela Smith say ‘the killing has to stop, the killing has to stop’ then she must herself be tiring of hearing herself say it. If you want the freshest contribution then listen to Jake Fienees after 20:33 where he says that the shooting industry has to address the issue of bad apples and stop turning a blind eye.

It sounded as though the room was full of grouse shooters. There was no representative from Extinction Rebellion asking about carbon stores, no advocate of rewilding asking about reforestation and Lynx, and no animal rights ectivist saying that killing things for any reason was wrong. Indeed the only really challenging question, which was left unanswered by the panel, was posed by Mark Thomas (of the RSPB) asking why grouse shooting didn’t admit the scale of the problem of illegal killing of protected raptors.

And Martin Harper’s blog shows increasing signs of much-overdue feistiness on the issue, for example:

And, for the avoidance of doubt, the RSPB’s view is that the UK Government needs to get tougher on driven grouse shooting, to put an end to damaging environmental practices such as burning of legally protected blanket bog and illegal killing of birds of prey. We believe that the status quo is not an option.

In Scotland, the forthcoming ’Werritty Review’ of grouse moor management is a major opportunity to build a sustainable – and entirely legal – future for Scotland’s moorlands. The RSPB now wants to see a similar review extended to England.

… the grouse-shooting industry has to date failed to self-regulate. Laws protecting birds of prey are being continually flouted on grouse moors and important habitats destroyed…

… the longer governments or the industry take to address the conservation and environmental problem associated with intensive driven grouse shooting, the stronger the calls for a ban will become …

Clearly the current system does not work, and driven grouse shooting as currently practiced is unsustainabl

Maybe it takes a close encounter with the member for Mid Sussex, which can’t possibly have happened, to get the RSPB to realise that the ‘let’s all sit down and chat things through’ method of operation, which the RSPB has employed now for getting on 25 years or more, isn’t bearing fruit, then so be it. Maybe Nick Soames has made an impact that was uniquely effective in pushing the RSPB forward.


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