Grouse shooting industry’s reaction to news of 3 x missing hen harriers

Following the RSPB’s announcement on Thursday that three of this year’s satellite-tagged hen harriers have already ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances on three grouse moors (here), we predicted that the grouse shooting industry’s ‘leaders’ would respond with a wall of silence, just as they have previously (e.g. see here).

We weren’t wrong.

[One of the missing three: ‘Hilma’, photo by Steve Downing]

Two days on, after searching websites and twitter feeds, here’s how the ‘partners’ of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG, also known as the PAW Raptor Group) have responded:

Countryside Alliance – no public statement

BASC – no public statement

National Gamekeepers Organisation – no public statement

Moorland Association – no public statement

Country Land & Business Association – no public statement

Natural England – no public statement

DEFRA – no public statement

Northern England Raptor Forum – full public statement here

NERF’s statement is excellent, and as usual, it doesn’t pull any punches. It talks about the never-ending cycle of persecution on driven grouse moors and how the grouse shooting ‘partners’ of the RPPDG are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.

Why is this charade of ‘partnership-working’ still allowed to continue? It’s been running for seven years and absolutely nothing has changed. Nothing. Not one thing.

And nor will it, when the grouse shooting industry’s so-called leaders refuse to even publicise the raptor persecution hotline to encourage their members to report suspected raptor crime!

The RPPDG has a new Chair – Police Supt. Nick Lyall of Bedfordshire Police. We’ve been impressed with his willingness to listen – he contacted us directly and asked to talk – that’s never happened before. It’s clear that he wants to make a difference and understands that the status quo is unacceptable, but we don’t yet know what changes he intends to bring.

Although, he tweeted this afternoon that he intends to bring more conservation groups to the RPPDG and cited the Hawk & Owl Trust as one of them!

That’ll be the Hawk & Owl Trust that’s in bed with the grouse shooting industry in pursuit of the ludicrous hen harrier brood meddling scheme (here) and which is now facing two legal challenges from conservationists in the High Court in December (here); that lost its former President, Chris Packham, over the decision to partner with the grouse shooting industry on brood meddling (here); is prepared to turn a blind eye to the criminal activities of the driven grouse shooting industry when it suits (see here); is unwilling to be transparent about the illegal shooting of one of its own satellite-tagged hen harrriers (see here); and has been accused by its own members of being apologists for raptor persecution on driven grouse moors (here).

We look forward to a lively discussion with Nick later in the week!

14 thoughts on “Grouse shooting industry’s reaction to news of 3 x missing hen harriers”

  1. So angry. Why on earth does the grouse shooting industry get away with – literally – murder? Lets hope the walk for Wildlife on the 22nd September includes some references to this disgraceful state of affairs.

  2. I hope that he is asking the Hawk and Owl trust on board so he can make clear how unacceptable it is not to fully condemn every suspicious raptor death and really mean it.

  3. The lack of response from the grouse shooting industry is literally an act of self-condemnation and incrimination.

  4. Its simple really the NERF statement said it all, DEFRA we cannot exclude nor NE but on a personal basis I would exclude all the others, most particularly Countryside Alliance, and CLA these are NOT delivery bodies they are pressure groups. Although that could also apply to the rest so they should go too. Why is this organisation loaded with people from the game killing industry rather than conservationists. I’m sure any home office bodies to discuss crime are not loaded with organisations representing possible criminality.

  5. All of the listed organisations are hooked directly or indirectly into the alleged Harrier recovery plan. All the key stages and the measure of success in that plan are linked in some way to a complete reliance on sat tagging. They have to believe that it works and they have to believe that the results will be accurate. It goes with the territory but they have to act on the results.

    Unless of course they are totally and utterly insincere. Oh of course they are.

  6. Grouse shooting should be banned along with all other blood ‘sports ‘. The income these activities generate for local communities would soon be replaced by returning the moors to a more natural habitat a d attract wildlife lovers and other tourists. Many jobs would be created in conversation. No excuses or silence is acceptable by way of explanation for these heinous wildlife crimes. Class should neither exist or be a reason for some law breakers to be treated differently from others.

  7. On Twitter yesterday, I referred to shooting industry lobbyists and apologists as “a bunch of conscienceless liars”. I want to justify and explain the point I made. It’s not just name calling, it is an objective description of what they are doing.

    The shooting industry and their representative organization, and those allied to them constantly underplay the extent of raptor persecution by shooting interests and their employees. They constantly pretend that the levels of the illegal persecution of raptors is much lower than it is, that it is just a few bad apples, and most importantly, that the only evidence of it is when there is a criminal conviction. They will claim everything not leading to a criminal conviction, is unproven and is nothing to do with the shooting industry. In other words all the poisoned, shot, trapped raptors, all the traps and poison baits found, all the missing satellite tagged raptors, the absence of successfully breeding raptors on grouse moors etc, may have other explanations than the actions of shooting interests. In other words the very strong circumstantial evidence is that in fact raptor persecution is widespread across the majority of grouse moors, and is common on other types of managed shoots.

    Before moving on, I want to make a vitally important observation. In no other area of crime do the authorities solely use successful convictions to measure the extent of the crime. In some areas of crime, such as drug use, very few of the offences occurring are even detected, let along successfully prosecuted. In many other areas of crime, the conviction rate is very low, and the authorities use other methods from intelligence, to public surveys, reported incidents, etc, to estimate the level of this crime. Yet shooting interests insist on entirely different criteria to estimate the level of illegal raptor persecution.

    Now the group which has most insight into the extent of raptor persecution are the shooting interests themselves, the shoot owners or leasees, the estate managers, the land agents, the gamekeepers or other estate employees, and the shooters themselves. If as the very strong circumstantial evidence suggests, this is widespread, then a very large proportion of the overall shooting lobby, must have insight into this. Therefore when the representatives for shooting, deny the extent of this raptor persecution, they are knowingly lying. This is because they know what they say is not true, the criteria for lying, and it’s a contrivance to hide behind the fact that more have not been caught at it, because the circumstances tell us that the odd of the perpetrators being caught in the act is very low.

    Therefore, when I use the term liars, I am objectively describing what they are doing, and not just name calling. They are treating us as if we are stupid, and have less credibility than the novichok 2 when explaining their steeple admiring trip.

  8. I have read the recent minutes from the last RPPDG and am struggling to see where the word ‘prevention’ fits into their discussions. Most of the agenda items appear to discuss data with no follow up action on what is going to happen with this data and how it will be used to prevent further incidents taking place. There appears to be much discussion but nothing which appears to materially impact on HOW and WHAT needs to be done to improve persecution. Not a lot of discussion on the supposedly ‘acclaimed’ Hen Harrier Action Plan and discussion as to how effective the plan is working on the ground which is really disappointing. The group appears to have a very top down approach and more a more bottom up modus operandi was needed. Bit concerned that the public purse is paying for this group and am very unsure about output that is being produced in order to put effective strategies into place to PROACTIVELY combat raptor persecution which can REALISTICALLY be monitored to assess effectiveness. I’ve written to Kevin Kelly at NY Police and Helen Anderson at Cumbria Police about this and have provided MA with my thoughts on their press releases being misaligned with REALITY on actual events that are happening and have undertaken my own mini survey in the community over the past few weeks to see what people think. There is a serious misalignment of resident, landowner and farmers views about what is being reported and this is concerning as does not represent the truth and the feeling is that our local wildlife community groups here in this part of the Yorkshire Dales are being dismissed and ignored.

  9. In my eyes this is simply yet another attempt to place fifth columnists in the ranks of those who are sincerely trying to end the scourge of illegal killings of birds of prey. It’s the standard procedure for the forces we are up against to place these people within organisations of thise sort .. be it coal miners or conservatioinists. Slso in my eyes, they have now moved on to actually creating these bodies so discredited are the ones already in existance.
    It’s simply yet another sham.
    It appears to me that it is the Government who are really behind it all and are using all the forces they have in the pertinent areas to frustrate any movement to effective enforcement of the laws protecting birds of prey that they themselves enacted in 1954.
    I hope that I am proved wrong, but I won’t be holding my breath.

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