A Very Slippery Slope

Posted: August 1, 2018 in Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, that’s largely to do with being fairly busy at work and also not wanting to sit in my studio in front of a computer wearing my pants and sweating like George Adams in Peterborough Magistrates Court. However my desire to comment on a recent news story was enough to put fingers to keyboard once again (that and more reasonable temperatures).

The Hunt Investigation Team were the people behind the now famous Herefordshire Hunt Fox Cub case, and while undertaking a new investigation of the Barlow Hunt in Derbyshire they were contacted by someone with regards to the persecution of predators which was being undertaken by known local bloodsports enthusiasts within the Peak District National Park. This program of predator control consisted of a vast network of Larsen traps (invented in Denmark where incidentally they are now banned for being inhumane) and the shooting of foxes at a time when both species would have dependent young that would no doubt starve.

Now this sort of thing is common practice on heavily managed Grouse moors where maximum bags of Grouse mean big financial benefits to the owners of the shoot however in this instance the organisation who commissioned this cruelty was in fact the RSPB.

This isn’t anything new, the RSPB carry out culling of certain species on their reserves if they deem that they represent a critical problem to endangered birds or present a risk to the habitat however in this instance it would seem they excelled themselves. Killing one animal to save another is, they claim a last resort however it would seem in this case they were employing the very people that they are meant to oppose.

You have to ask yourself how can they fight against the culling of Ravens on one hand and with the other massacre their close relatives with another? The population of foxes is in severe decline (41% since 1996) so why are these wonderful animals being further persecuted by a so called environmental charity?


A Curlew on the Isle of Mull

It all comes down to the Curlew.

The Curlew was cited as the reason a dodgy collective of shooting interests got together (Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW)) and was granted a license to kill Ravens in Scotland, something the RSPB rightly challenged although this has now been suspended after being proven to be devoid of any scientific justification and anyone with an IQ above 30 would know this was more about protecting Grouse than Curlew.

The Curlew is, it seems top of the list of birds that require action to prevent the further decline in their population. However the RSPB themselves will claim that the biggest threats to the Curlew are environmental. Both harmful farming methods and poor land management are the reason the Curlew has suffered so much. Exterminating predators that may or may not impact on the current population is not an acceptable course of action to take and certainly one many of their members will feel uneasy about.


Perhaps it should read “giving some nature a home, others a bullet”?

I’m lucky enough to have seen many Curlew, nearly all while on Holiday on the Isle of Mull. While Mull doesn’t have foxes it does have a very healthy Raven and Hooded Crow (a very close relative of the Carrion Crow) population along with many raptors and other mustalid predators. So what makes them so successful there?

The ideal environment for them, ample nesting sites and feeding opportunities with little or no disturbance from humans.

As far as I’m concerned everything has a right to life, killing one species to save another is, in my eyes a very slippery slope indeed and even more so when the people doing the killing are those which you oppose in every other aspect of your work. Rather than undertaking these hugely questionable practices they should be concentrating on restoring the habitat and rewilding the very areas that are so poorly managed. When the people at the HIT got in touch with the RSPB the response they got was poor to say the least (you can read the whole story here). You would expect an organisation with these kind of huge resources to respond properly and at least attempt to offer some kind of justification but it appears they are above all that. There’s no doubt they do some good work but many people, including myself will now be considering their membership in light of these disgraceful practices.

UPDATE: It seems the RSPB have responded after the pressure was mounting on them to provide some sort of explanation. You can read it here. Quite frankly it falls well short of the mark and judging by the comments they will be losing many members and the money which goes with them.

Interestingly one comment highlighted an article by the excellent George Monbiot and gives an insight into the thinking of the RSPB and the problem with their “solution”. You can read it here.

  1. The Royal Society for the PROTECTION of Birds employing a fanatical wildlife killer [who probably takes part in illegal hunting with dogs] to capture crows, place them in cages for God knows how long to lure in other crows, and kill them then presumably kill the decoy crow when it’s no longer useful. This in all weathers apparently including the recent heatwave.
    You couldn’t make it up.
    My wife and I left the RSPB many years ago when we discovered that the RSPB had SOLD some mallards from one of their reserves to Birmingham University for use in drowning experiments. Quite why they wanted mallards I’ve no idea.

  2. sam stevens says:

    Thanks you for your blog I always read them..

    I think over the summer months it’s all been very quiet and now I am seeing posts people put up about MPs getting a prize from the RSPCA about how well they are doing killing things in the UK. I can’t help but think the CA have gone over to America and had lessons from the NRA on how to manipulate MPs and the government into doing what they want. We all know the NRA gives the American government loads of money that’s why they won’t ban guns but with brexit on the way I can’t help but think the CA are getting in on the act as well to get round of he ban on hunting with hounds. I think that we all no the government will not back down on public pressure on hunting it’s the MPs and hat have the vote not the public so I he CA are moving in on the MPs. And if we are not to carful and not get MPs and land owners on side hunting will be back through a he back door before we know it. So to Sum it up land owners and MPs need to come to the anti side and the anti side need a good lobby group to hit back on the CA the HSA and LACS are ok but they are working on the public MPs have the vote.


    Sent from my iPad

  3. Simon Cole says:

    I first became aware that shooting was common when I visited an wetland conservation site on my second university course. The lecturer was able to refer to scientific studies supporting this practice – “the site in question had lost 90% of fledgling lapwings due to crow predation” and I witnessed shooting when I returned to go bird watching. Cages were not used as the crows were shot from tree roosts. The shooter had a retriever with them, and there was considerable regret and awareness of the ethical issues.

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