Henry’s tour day 79: The RSPB, slurs & lies

Mon 3 Aug Copy

Henry received a warm welcome from his friends at the RSPB HQ at The Lodge (photo by Guy Shorrock).

The RSPB has faced an increasing amount of criticism in recent months, from both ‘sides’ of the Hen Harrier ‘issue’.

Some from ‘our side’ have been critical because the RSPB has, so far, refused to sign up to the call for a ban on driven grouse shooting and instead has called for a system of grouse moor licensing. The RSPB’s CEO, Dr Mike Clarke, re-emphasised this position in a speech he made at the CLA Game Fair last Friday (see here). It’s a position that many of us find bewildering and some of us would say the criticism is thus deserved but, as public pressure grows, the RSPB may well re-evaluate its stance. Indeed, Dr Clarke said: “But the longer it takes any industry to address its problems, the stronger those calls [to ban driven grouse shooting] will become“.

Whatever your view on licensing or banning driven grouse shooting, it seems pretty counter-productive to attack an organisation that is doing a great deal of work on ‘our side’ for hen harriers (e.g. see list here), instead of aiming our ire squarely at the organisations responsible for the loss of, literally, thousands of hen harriers through shooting them, trapping them, bludgeoning them to death, poisoning them, burning out their nests and stamping on their chicks. Doesn’t it?

Other criticism of the RSPB has emerged from a group calling itself You Forgot the Birds, fronted by ex-cricketer Ian Botham and funded by the British grouse industry. We’ve blogged about them previously (here, here). In today’s Telegraph (see here), an article penned by ‘journalist’ Javier Espinoza claims that a forthcoming government report (by Natural England) will criticise the RSPB for failing to protect six hen harrier nests this year and, further, that ‘the remaining six successful nests – which were on or next to grouse moors – had no RSPB involvement and performed well’.

That’s very interesting. We’ve spoken to Natural England and have been told no such report exists, nor is one planned. In addition, we also know that the six remaining hen harrier nests in England this year were NOT all on or next to driven grouse moors – far from it!

Mr Espinoza seems to have taken a press release issued by YFTB and just published it without doing any fact checking. Not really a surprise from the Telegraph but an indication of the desperate measures being employed by the British grouse industry. They’re rattled, and so they should be. The social media Thunderclap timed to coincide with Hen Harrier Day (this Sunday) will see over five million simultaneous messages going out at 10am saying ‘We’re missing our hen harriers – and we want them back’. That message will be seen by over five million social media users – there’s still time to sign up and help increase the public reach – sign up here if you have a facebook or twitter account.

The British grouse industry is also rattled by the current e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting, which is doing well – please sign it here.

11 thoughts on “Henry’s tour day 79: The RSPB, slurs & lies”

  1. I sometimes get frustrated at the RSPB stance,but given the current political landscape I can understand their policy.Hopefully, these constant attacks on the RSPB will serve to help them arrive at the same conclusion as those of us who would like to see a ban.There can be very few people that believe a word that comes from YFTB and hopefully they help to increase RSPB membership as people begin to realise what is happening here.Let YFTB keep shouting as all the publicity will mean more and more questions about their activities and what happens in our uplands.

    1. It used to be the case that the RSPB could not enter into debate on the question of legal field sports under the terms of its Royal Charter. It had to remain neutral but could of course speak out against breaking the law. Perhaps this has changed, but if not it would require a change to the Charter to do so, which would be a major step for the charity.

      1. They stopped being neutral when David Harper stated that Pheasant shoots could be good for the countryside.

  2. Maybe I’m being naive here, but how can a national newspaper get away with publishing an article based on completely false information without being sued for libel? Couldn’t the RSPB take them to court for printing rubbish like that?

    I think the grouse shooting industry is being its own worst enemy here. By showing themselves unwilling to compromise by allowing themselves to be licensed (seriously, why’s that such a problem?), and instead attacking the RSPB, they’re just provoking the RSPB into eventually joining the calls for an outright ban.

    1. Because Grouse shooting is a symbol and expression of absolute power. The idea of control brings out the inner spoilt child mentality. Learnt in our noble public schools.

    2. Carrie, the vast majority of newspapers in this country are quite happy to intentionally tell lie after lie. They, and the rest of the UK mainstream media, have been doing so for tens of decades, hence the need for sites such as this.

      The only way to counter their lies and propaganda, is to stop buying their filthy newspapers, and stop relying on organisations such as the “impartial” BBC for news and current affairs. Instead, concentrate on sites such as this (and other political/current affairs sites), for the truth, because you simply won’t get it from these pro-establishment mouthpieces.

  3. Frankly, Javier Espinoza should have his butt kicked up and down Fleet Street. We’ll let him choose the venue though.

  4. We have to look at our Birds of Prey under attack issue as part of the world wide industry of trophy and sport shooting. I am sure many of those who slay large numbers of grouse on our Scottish moorlands, graduate towards the killing fields in other countries. The killing of Cecil the Lion from the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, has given our media a chance to show the full extent of the killing of wildlife for recreation. The hunting bow has become a favoured way of bagging some forms of big game, and even smaller prey sudh as the poor Hare shot in Eire by a friend’s acquaintance. The World Wide Fund for Nature, some time ago, began endorsing game shooting as a way of financing conservation in Africa’s national and game parks. This has become a perversion and obscenity, with the president of the WWF in Spain a few years ago, appearing in our Daily Mail, standing over a huge Elephant and several other large animals. He resigned from his position. Earlier this year, I phoned the Namibian Embassy in London, and discussed that country’s auctioning of its wildlife to trophy shooters. The character on the phone denied his country did such a thing, and chided me for thinking so! Yes, his country does so, and even gets primary school children to choose which species of large animal can be auctioned, and the one that caught media attention was an old Rhino.

    Not just the wildlife that is being affected by the growth of national parks that allow trophy shooting, it is the indigenous people, who just happen to have been there for hundreds and even thousands of years, as there are instances in the Congo (Pygmy people) and Botswana (Bushmen), who have had to be removed. This has caused friction between the tribal rights group, Survival International, and the respective governments concerned and the WWF. In Tanzania, 30,000 Maasai pastoralists have been removed from traditional lands, so that a rich Middle Eastern family can have the land for hunting purposes, and even had an airstip built for flying in, and flying out the trophies. Scotland had its tribal/clan people moved away, and in their place came the sheep and the hunting estates.

    After the inappropriate speech Dr Aileen McLeod made at the Scottish Game Fair on 3 July 2015, during which she praised the work of the gamekeepers in giving Scotland a well-managed environment, I emailed Richard Lochhead MSP, head of Environment and Forestry Directorate, and Jonathon Young, Policy Officer, replied that the Scottish Government supports legitimate participation in country sports, and that these were a vital part or Scotland’s economy. The Young Gamekeeper of the Year Award rightfully seeks to engender a holistic appreciation of all of Scotland’s diverse flora and fauna, and recognising that young gamekeepers, ghillies, wildlife managers and rangers have a valuable role in managing Scotland’s natural environment. He went on to declare that it is important to encourage those who will become responsible ambassadors for their profession.


    Being a donor and member/suporter of the RSPB, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Plantlife, Scottish Wildlife Trust, John Muir Trust, Scottish Badgers, Bat Protection, League Against Cruel Sports, Animal Aid, Scotland for Animals, Animal Concern AND ABOUT 20 INTERNATIONAL CONSERVATION AND SPECIES PROTECTION GROUPS, I am fed a constant supply of information about what is going on everywhere there is wildlife, and it is an horrendous story. It shames me, and a growing number of people, that successive Scottish Governments, the Police, Judiiciary and Fiscal Services, have not really dealt with wildlife crime in Scotland effectively enough.

    It is time now for a determined effort to be made to change the situtation we have annoying us at present, and for powerful concerted efforts to be made, to inform the public in a clear way, as to what has been going on in the rural environment of Scotland; one that is subsidised, and requires an outside accountancy investigation into just what support has been, and is being given, to justify its present state of extistence, whereby, even one
    Bird of Prey can unbalance an estate’s books, and thereby a multiple serious of assaults on such birds is illegally carried out. Like the intenational trophy shooting industry, it has become a perversion, which involves the mass shooting of game birds, and the killing of thousands of willdlife, that are classed as vermin. If those who ineffectively control rural crime, cannot or will not change tack and enforce the law, and the courts come down heavily with prison sentences for persistent contempt, then we, the humane and reasonable conservation lobby should just pack up, and let the game shooting industry take over the task of giving us a sustainable and diverse Bird of Prey population. Perhaps, the new, and hopefully unbrainwashed, young gamekeepers coming on scene, can effect a change of hitherto cruel policy. Along with that, perhaps a team of psychiatrists could give us the answer, as to why someone would want to posses powerful hunting bows, shotguns and rifles to blast anything that flies or moves in the countryside, and those who have to chase animals wiih hounds. A model Scotland to me, and those of my feeling and thinking, is one where such barbarous killing does not happen.

  5. Talking of hen harriers, did you know that The Game and Wildlife Devastation, I mean Conservation Trust (GWCT) have ‘paperclipped’ the name ‘Hen Harrier day’. This is a paid service and means if you Google Hen Harrier Day then the first on the list will be a link to a page by the GWCT which asks you to download their “free and essential guide” (but not before handing over your email address) which relates to hen harriers and driven grouse shooting. Basically, they have hijacked the hen harrier day name in a pitiful and desperate attempt to defend their blood sport and the huge negative environmental impact that comes with that recreation, with, what some may consider, as falsehoods and misleading information. A pathetic move on GWCT’s part, but one that smacks of desperation as the spotlight falls on an industry that has for far too long been quietly destroying our landscape and wiping out much of what use to live in it.

    1. Could it be one of those deals where the GWCT pays google for every link? In which case people need to click onto it early and often.

    2. I tried to google Hen Harrier Day but did not get GWCT on the early results. Perhaps, like me, Chrome thinks it is a suspect website? I did manage to find a survey about Hen Harriers on the G(W)CT site and enjoyed completing that.

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