An article in The Guardian has revealed that the UK’s nature conservation agency, Natural England, has licensed the secret destruction of buzzard eggs and nests to protect a pheasant shoot.
This destruction, which took place in the last few weeks, was only revealed after a Freedom of Information request was made by the RSPB. According to the article, the National Gamekeepers Organisation was ‘closely involved in winning the licences and had threatened Natural England with judicial review if they were not granted’.
Given that the buzzard (and other raptors) are native species with supposed full legal protection, the RSPB is considering its legal options.
The location of the pheasant shoot has not (yet) been revealed, as Natural England stated the case was “emotive and sensitive” and cited “public safety”. Interestingly, this is the same argument the Scottish Government recently tried to use to hide the identities of seal-shooting salmon farms in Scotland. That decision was over-ruled last month by the Scottish Freedom of Information watchdog and the Scottish Government was forced to name the locations (see here).
Article in The Guardian here.
If you want to let DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon know how you feel about this disgusting precedent, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The RSPB’s Conservation Director, Martin Harper, has posted all the FoI documents on his blog here.
UPDATE 13.00hrs: Natural England has released what it calls a ‘mythbuster’ about this controversial licence here. The header is ‘Full details of buzzard nest control licence’, only it isn’t the ‘full details’ – the majority of the data have been redacted, which means we can’t assess the scientific evidence used by NE to approve this licence. Where’s the transparency?
If you want to email Natural England and tell them what you think about their decision to licence buzzard control, contact them at: email@example.com
UPDATE 16.00hrs: An interesting update from the RSPB’s Martin Harper on DEFRA’s deceit here
UPDATE 18.30hrs: An excellent analysis of Natural England’s decision, written by blogger Alan Tilmouth here
UPDATE 22.00hrs: Further evidence, should you need it, that the UK’s government agency for nature conservation is sitting comfortably in the hands of the game-shooting industry – this is absolutely shocking – read it here.