Botham off-target


There’s an amusing article in today’s Mail on Sunday from Ian Botham, frontman of the increasingly-ludicrous You Forgot the Birds ‘campaign’, funded by the grouse-shooting industry.

It follows on from last week’s attempt by YFTB to discredit the RSPB (see here). This time, Botham is playing the victim card and is threatening legal action because he thinks that the RSPB has accused him of killing birds of prey (see here).

Playing the victim card is nothing new from the game-shooting industry – we’ve seen it played over and again, especially when video evidence, collected by the RSPB’s Investigations teams, has been used to successfully convict criminal gamekeepers of wildlife crimes. It’s all just so unfair.

Botham also claims that the RSPB is ‘constantly slurring gamekeepers as criminals’. Poor, slurred gamekeepers. Why ever would anyone think their industry is a hot bed of criminal activity against protected wildlife? Perhaps this has something to do with it:

In January 2012, the RSPB reported that since 1990, over 100 gamekeepers had been convicted of raptor persecution crimes (here).

And here’s a list of 29 gamekeepers convicted of wildlife crimes in the last 5 years alone, many of whom were convicted thanks to the work of the RSPB:

Feb 2011: Gamekeeper Connor Patterson convicted of causing animal fights between dogs, foxes and badgers.

May 2011: Gamekeeper Ivan Mark Crane convicted of using an illegal trap.

May 2011: Gamekeeper Ivan Peter Crane convicted of using an illegal trap.

May 2011: Gamekeeper Dean Barr convicted of being in possession of a banned poison.

May 2011: Gamekeeper James Rolfe convicted of being in possession of a dead red kite.

June 2011: Gamekeeper Glenn Brown convicted of using an illegal trap.

October 2011: Gamekeeper Craig Barrie convicted of illegal possession & control of a wild bird

Dec 2011: Gamekeeper Christopher John Carter convicted of causing a fight between two dogs and a fox.

Dec 2011: Gamekeeper Luke James Byrne convicted of causing three animal fights and possession of three dead wild birds (heron, cormorant, buzzard).

Jan 2012: Gamekeeper David Whitefield convicted of poisoning 4 buzzards.

Jan 2012: Gamekeeper Cyril McLachlan convicted of possessing a banned poison.

April 2012: Gamekeeper Robert Christie convicted of illegal use of a trap.

June 2012: Gamekeeper Jonathan Smith Graham convicted of illegal use of a trap.

Sept 2012: Gamekeeper Tom McKellar convicted of possessing a banned poison.

Nov 2012: Gamekeeper Bill Scobie convicted of possessing and using a banned poison.

Jan 2013: Gamekeeper Robert Hebblewhite convicted of poisoning buzzards.

Feb 2013: Gamekeeper Shaun Allanson convicted of illegal use of a trap.

Feb 2013: Gamekeeper (un-named) cautioned for illegal use of a trap.

May 2013: Gamekeeper Brian Petrie convicted for trapping offences.

June 2013: Gamekeeper Peter Bell convicted for poisoning a buzzard.

July 2013: Gamekeeper Colin Burne convicted for trapping then battering to death 2 buzzards.

Sept 2013: Gamekeeper Andrew Knights convicted for storing banned poisons.

Dec 2013: Gamekeeper Wayne Priday convicted for setting an illegal trap.

Feb 2014 Gamekeeper Ryan Waite convicted for setting an illegal trap.

May 2014 Gamekeeper Derek Sanderson convicted for storing five banned poisons.

July 2014 Gamekeeper Mark Stevens convicted for setting illegal traps.

October 2014 Gamekeeper Allen Lambert convicted for poisoning 11 raptors, illegal storage and use of pesticides & possession of a poisoner’s kit.

December 2014 Gamekeeper George Mutch convicted for illegal use of traps, illegal killing of a goshawk, illegal taking of a goshawk, illegal taking of a buzzard.

May 2015 Gamekeeper James O’Reilly convicted for illegal use of leg-hold traps and illegal use of snares.

It’s not that they’re all at it; on the contrary, we personally know some fantastic gamekeepers who contribute a massive amount to wildlife conservation. The problem is, they are few and far between and many within the gamekeeping industry are most definitely at it. You don’t get population-level effects on a species’ distribution and abundance (think hen harriers, golden eagles, peregrines, red kites) if ‘only a few rogues’ are at it.

In a lot of ways, Botham’s attack on the RSPB is a soft target. They’re high profile and subject to strict conditions laid down by the Charity Commission – there’s only so much they can say and do (although some of us think that they could do more than they already are, even within those constraints). However, it’s not the RSPB that Botham & his grouse-shooting industry mates should be worried about. It’s not just the RSPB who are aware of what is going on. He (and the industry he is representing) should perhaps be more concerned about the growing rise in ordinary members of the public who are finding out the truth about the game-shooting industry. We know what’s going on and we’re not hampered by Royal Charters or other bureaucratic constraints. And we’re getting louder and stronger by the day. It’d be foolish to underestimate us.

14 thoughts on “Botham off-target”

  1. botham the buffoon likes to keep in the limelight with his asinine non-thoughts. Such cracker barrel philosophies are best left in the bar room whilst having drinkie poos, with the emphasis on the latter. Haven’t you got something better to do, botham; like tramp down a road with a gobful of Shredded Wheat? You wannabe the prince of hearts. XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX XXXXX. For shame, eh?

  2. Well said RPS re members of the public unhampered by Royal Charters and bureaucratic restraints. Yesterday at a gala day met someone who takes in injured birds of prey. We got talking about persecution and he recounted a wee story about an estate in the borders where he used to have permission to fly his birds. He was approached by a keeper who told him there was a goshawk nest with three chicks in it, if he wanted (to buy I imagine) them that would be good as the nest was going to be shot out anyway. He declined then tipped of SSPCA. A few weeks later he was at another estate about three ones along from that one when he was approached and told to leave and not politely. He said he had permission to be there and was told it had been withdrawn. Certain ex sportsmen need to realise that being loud isn’t clever when your mouth is considerably bigger than your brain. Will YFtB be recruiting Vinnie Jones to their cause next?

  3. It speaks volumes that Ian Botham writes for The Daily Mail. He needs to be quiet because the vast majority of decent wildlife conscious people disagree with him.

  4. As an ordinary member of the public, I am totally convinced that the vast majority of gamekeepers and wildlife crime do indeed go hand in hand, both historically (wildcats, pine martins and all BOP ) and currently. Where are all the BOP that should be in the Cairngorms, most likely decimated by many of the killing estates that surround it.

  5. How much is he getting paid for this? Or is this his personal and deeply held belief? What “grouse shooting industry” is funding this anyway – all of it? certain publications? certain organisations? certain individuals? But slightly off topic the RSPB don’t do themselves any favours either – as anyone driving through Forsinard can testify.

  6. Interesting comment from Les, and it doesn’t surprise me.

    Having moved to the Scottish Borders from southern England, I was shocked at the hatred some of the gamekeepers here have toward goshawks. Even one of the tutors at the Borders College became quite frosty when I told him I hunt with goshawks, and never did get back to me with information about the courses I wanted to enroll on. I think that speaks volumes, and none of it good, this is a person training young would be keepers.

    I know goshawks are very efficient and capable predators, and they will kill sometimes when they don’t really need to. But some of the claims I’ve had to listen to have been ridiculous, like being told a goshawk will fly along a hedge line killing pheasants, poult after poult, accounting for 30+ at a time. Such ignorance is astounding. I do my best to educate when I can, and it doesn’t always fall on deaf ears. I have, however, learned that there is no point being too confrontational. It isn’t always an easy path to tread.

    1. Chris, we have to remember that Alex Hogg, Chairman of the SGA, reported such an incident when a Goshawk allegedly took 35 pheasant poults in a single strike (yes, that was the quoted figure – 35 pheasants in a single strike!), so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that imbecilic gamekeepers believe such drivel, especially when their national representative spouts such utter nonsense.

      Other pearls of wisdom from Hogg include;

      “I strongly believe the goshawk never was indigenous to the United Kingdom and there is absolutely no hard evidence to suggest otherwise”

      “Professional gamekeepers do not poison raptors”

      “Now, in the past ten years, we have stamped out poisoning. We have come down so hard on it. We’ve had meetings up and down the countryside, we’ve absolutely finished it” (speaking in October 2014)

      “We kill animals because probably we’re the doctors and nurses of the countryside. Animals don’t have an old folks home to go to; when their teeth fall out they’ll starve to death so we’ll probably shoot that animal before that happens“

      “No they aren’t. We would dispute that“ (when asked if gamekeepers were poisoning, shooting or trapping raptors)

      “Probably the biggest new threat to golden eagle survival comes from the government’s own forestry and energy strategy”

      So let’s remember that there will be new readers to this site, so we must keep repeating these wholly inaccurate and unscientific statements issued by Hogg and his allies, and eventually more and people will realise that the driven shooting industry can only operate through sustained illegal activity, and is totally reliant on lies.

      1. He has only posted one blog on the SGA website this year and that was about rural broadband, has someone been having a quiet word with him? The previous one way back on the 29th of September was a cracker even by his standards. Going for a stalking trip up north he managed to deride hill walkers, made a sniddish remark about the civil service and criticised the John Muir Trust’s deer culling policy – according to ecological expert Hogg this was not only threatening stalking jobs (yeah, yeah), but was also useless in its stated purpose of restoring birch scrub on peatland. This is news to the JMT (and trees), they give presentations where they show the birch vigorously regenerating on aforementioned peat, now preceeded by A.Hogg’s quote from the blog.

  7. All this kind of frothing at the mouth from the likes of Botham [who would never get a hearing if he wasnt a “celebrity” for his long ago prowess as a cricketer] actually helps the RSPB, making it look like a fighting conservation organisation. I find it quite depressing that the shooting estates and their employees are only now realising how far from real conservation their own Victorian practices and “philosophies” are…They would love it all to go back to the cosy vermin killing days of the past…and they would have managed it, despite all our hard fought for legislation if it wasnt for sites like this one – how many of you out there would realise the extent of the killing – and who is responsible, if you didnt get this information on a continuous basis?

    1. Very true Dave, I am approaching my 70th decade, and before I discovered RPS ( through a wildlife crime officer ), I had no idea how much criminality was taking place in the countryside, by the estates and their gamekeepers. So a BIG thank you to RPS.

      1. Above should, of course, read 7th. decade or 70th. year, not 70th. decade – getting old but not that old!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s