Things to do list #2

In the November 2011 edition of Birdwatch magazine, Mark Avery calls for our views about hen harriers and grouse moors. He says that if we send our views to the Birdwatch editor, they’ll be summarised and sent to a range of organisations including the Moorland Association, the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the RSPB and the Scottish Raptor Study Groups.

Is there any value in doing this? Do you think the anti-harrier brigade will pay any attention to our views? Why would they? It’s been illegal to kill harriers since 1954 – this hasn’t stopped anyone doing it, and has pushed harriers to the very brink of extinction as a breeding bird in England, and severely depleted their numbers in parts of Scotland, so why would the harrier killers stop now?

The alternative is to do nothing, giving the grouse-shooting fraternity the chance to use our silence as an indication that we simply don’t care. We can’t let that happen, can we?

In Avery’s Birdwatch article, he writes a small piece about the harrier problem, but given the limited page space he can’t explain the problem in detail. He then offers three possible options on how to deal with the harrier/grouse issue, and asks readers to comment on them, or alternatively, suggest other options. Avery’s three options are paraphrased here:

A: Just forget it. Conservationists are fighting a losing battle and should turn their attention to more important issues.

B: Keep up the fight and keep publicising illegal persecution because if we lose the harrier, other species will surely follow. Keep talking to the ‘good guys’ in shooting who also want to see an end to harrier persecution.

C: Forget about trying to work with grouse shooters – they’ve had their chance to put their house in order and have failed miserably. Instead, lobby for an outright ban on grouse shooting.

If you want to comment on the issue, email your views to: You’ll need to write before the end of November.

If you want some detailed background reading on the issue, we recommend reading Avery’s earlier articles about the harrier-grouse problem that he’s written on his personal blog (see here), and some of our earlier blog posts on harriers (see here, here, here, here, here, and here).

To subscribe to Birdwatch magazine online, click here.

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