RSPB clarifies position: No media black out on hen harrier persecution

Hen Harrier Holly 2015Further to this morning’s blog where we expressed concerns about what we thought was a new RSPB media policy NOT to release timely information about hen harrier persecution this year (see here), the RSPB has responded.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, has written a comment on this morning’s blog but for those who might have missed it we’re repeating it here:


There is no ‘media black out’. Transparency is absolutely key. Our approach this season is aimed at avoiding the rather pointless and near unending slanging match which has unfortunately characterised recent breeding seasons and instead giving those on the ground the best possible opportunity to allow our hen harriers to succeed. As I said on my blog, we will, of course, still report something as serious as a persecution incident in the usual way.

Best wishes

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director.


Thank you, Martin, for your swift response and reassurance. It wasn’t clear from your blog that you would publicly report instances of 2016 hen harrier persecution (except to the police) so this clarification that you will inform the public is very welcome.

Meanwhile, the e-petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting is fast-approaching the 10k signature mark, which will trigger a response from Westminster. If you want to help speed things along, please sign HERE

21 thoughts on “RSPB clarifies position: No media black out on hen harrier persecution”

  1. Thanks for your efforts to get this cleared up RPS. It is hardly surprising that folk become suspicious when opaque statements are made re hen harriers given the history.

  2. ‘We’ll be expecting the same this year if (when) it happens again’
    Together with any other instances of raptor persecution …… wherever they might occur …….

  3. Hi,
    I endorse the call above that Martin Harper should also clarify RSPB’s position on the petition to ban driven grouse shooting; there needs to be a debate in Parliament and the RSPB should be at the very very least covering the debate in Birds Magazine and on its website; it should clarify also what are the reasons for it not supporting this petition, should that be the case.

    1. I hope Martin Harper reads this ; let me remind him of my resignation statement from RSPB “that I found it unbelievable that CAP receipts were not a requirement of the Register of interests of the House of Commons and how given 30 years of debate around CAP reform how that could be; given the dozens of “policy officers” etc etc endless reports on CAP reform that include the nature conservation charities support of the 2013 UK veto on the EU Commission proposal to cap large recipients of this largesse. What has that got to do with this issue and Hen Harriers ? Landowners are very powerful and privileged people that consider themselves above the law despite being subsidised by the public purse sometimes to the tune of millions; and they hold wildlife law broadly in disdain. The charities of the nature conservation movement are impotent before them; lets see where they stand here and maybe they could also explain why CAP receipts are not on the Register of Interests. Incidentally has BBC Bristol and its famous presenters ever covered THE budget that funds the countryside; not in my lifetime has Sir David Attenborough or John Craven ever gone near this.

      1. Its been burning season again…. the last few days of the dry weather has seen the habitat destroyers out in force. Lots of examples of burning against the code… so the estates wont meet GAEC….. but will they have their farm payments with held???? We should have a campaign to out the bad burning, lets all report it? Measure the peat depth, photo the burn sides and screes….. The fact that they get away with murder… helps them get away with murder.

  4. Hi, I would like to endorse the comment above; RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts should make their positions clear on the petition to ban driven “grouse shooting”; I have profound reservations as to the efficacy of these charitable bodies to achieve their stated charitable ends beyond “education and an estate of wildlife reserves” they are limited by their charitable status; in this instance maybe they should be publicising the debate and their position around this petition to their memberships.

  5. Sorry I am new here and have repeated my self; it takes a little bit of time for comments to come through and I thought they had not so have repeated myself.

    1. How many more years do we have to lose countless extremely scarce and becoming more scarce by the day legally protected birds of prey while we wait for a “positive dialogue towards a sustainable future”. Don’t make me laugh, the time for dialogue has long since passed by and was in any case always a one sided compromise while WE talked and talked and talked and had dialogue amongst ourselves. In the very long meantime the grouse shooting estates and others were left free to carry on the staus qou of raptor killing as if nothing had happened, which of course it hadn’t. There is absolutely no possibility of a working Hen Harrier action plan and never will be until the shooting estates owners and managers are forced to stop their persecution of raptors once and for all. Compromise and appeasement has already been proven to be a waste of time where the grouse shooting fraternity are involved, the only real way to end raptor persecution is to force a national ban on driven Red Grouse shooting.

      1. RSPB need to define their definition of “sustainable grouse moor management”. I say this to Martin Harper will it carry wide public support ? I think the figure was 40 million quid of public money that has been channelled here (do not quote me); its not acceptable and he should come off the fence. Maybe RSPB could now put a team of their researchers on this and Martin Harper could now tell us how much public money do grouse moors receive at a country and county level, how many jobs this support ie cost per job, what are and what should be the environmental benefits of this public spend. what are the current environmental costs ?

    2. One might have expected that; I have come to believe that RSPB should withdraw from all UK policy advocacy and simply focus on their reserves. Crippled by charitable status ie too bloody charitable.

  6. So when I wonder Secret Squirrel? What exactly is their calculation? After another 50 dead Hen Harriers, 100, 1000? Or will it be when it becomes unavoidably clear that their approach is completely out of step with public opinion? Do we need the full 100000 signatures for a change of heart? If we get the Parliamentary debate will they be writing to MPs and saying ‘no, not yet’?

      1. agree wholeheartedly on that statement Peter, the land owners would not pay for gamekeepers if it came out of their own pockets, posh version of benefits street, google, facebook Ikea and so on have all been tracked down by the inland revenue lately for making money but not paying tax in this country, the Inland revenue brought down the last lot of untouchables, lets hope they come to a grouse moor near you!

  7. When the previous RSPB Conservation Director for nearly 13 years starts a third e-petition to get grouse shooting banned you can’t help thinking something is very wrong, when you read the blogs on this website about the continuing illegal persecution of our raptors and other wildlife and read about the people involved ending up in court on a regular basis and are also given links to national and local newspapers to check the authenticity of these crimes then you have to agree something is very wrong! yet when the organisation he was director of takes no action to support this petition in light of all these facts, an organisation supposedly dedicated to the protection of these species you have to ask yourself why not?
    In the early years of the new millennium animal welfare organisations were accused in the shooting press of taking over the national trust, the trust wanted to end fox hunting on it’s land so the shooting and hunting organisations asked as many of their members as possible to join the national trust in an effort to get this judgement over ruled,
    The present stance of the RSPB not to back it’s ex conservation directors petition makes no sense at all and you could question whether it could be possible for shooting/hunting organisations to be able to get members into positions in the RSPB to be able to effect change but worryingly Martin Harpers own comments regarding pheasant shooting have already sparked outrage.
    Glad to see we have already hit the 10k mark and hopefully the RSPB will back us this time and quit sitting on the fence, we lost iconic species before due to the inability of land owners to keep their gamekeepers in check this present industrialisation of grouse shooting will have the same effect if left unchallenged

    1. The problem is of all the wildlife bodies is, in my view, charitable status. It was my motion to SERA in 1997 that created the Right to Know on CAP subsidies and there is now a DEFRA file. Has this been used by the charities with there memberships of millions to hold these people accountable? No, they are too damn scared of the power of the Tory Party. I have repeatedly raised the issue of public funding of these estates and farming more generally and remain gob smacked that ie David Cameron’s or other farmers or landowners that hold positions of power in Parliament do not have to declare them on the Register of Interests. Wildlife declines have been systemic over the past 30 years and it down to intensive monocultures; grouse moors are one aspect of this. There should be regional and local lists where we can all see who gets exactly what; this entire budget is utterly unaccountable; my own view is that Less favoured Areas should receive more of the pot and East Anglia less and lets move the money into HNV areas, Nnational Parks, reforest and rewild whole tracts of uplands that are inefficient preserves of the super rich. I hope that Kerry McCarthy MP, who used to be my MP, will raise this matter re Register of Interests in this Parliament. I have said all this to RSPB and the Wildlife and National Trusts and BTO, who claim to be impartial but am ignored. Surely a county based and individualised map of CAP monies should be available for all to see. Why do Wildlife Link not deliver this ? I can also assure you that Kerry is tracking this debate re Grouse Moors.

      1. After 20 years “a banging” on this CAP door I ask when will the wildlife charities or FoE deliver accountability of the public money that it is their duty to monitor ? It is only George Monbiot that ever properly covers this important angle.

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