Gamekeepers ready to support reintroduction of buzzards to Salisbury Plain

Thanks to the blog reader who sent us this screen grab of a tweet doing the rounds recently (it now appears to have been deleted).

Oh dear. Perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider publishing a link to the RSPB’s very helpful online article ‘How to ID a Hen Harrier’, which includes these useful guides:

And perhaps Sporting Rifle will consider revising its article about hen harrier conservation by publishing the facts about why hen harriers are in a spiral of decline across the UK? (BIG CLUE: GAMEKEEPERS ARE INVOLVED).

Perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the findings of the recent scientific paper which showed that hen harriers are ten times more likely to be killed on grouse moors than any other habitat. Yes, TEN TIMES more likely!

Or perhaps Sporting Rifle will also consider publishing the recent news that one of the many tagged hen harriers to vanish in suspicious circumstances just happened to vanish less than 20 miles from the proposed ‘reintroduction’ site in Wiltshire, in an area heavily managed by gamekeepers for pheasant and partridge shooting?

Incidentally, on the subject of DEFRA’s outrageous proposal to ‘reintroduce’ hen harriers to southern England this year, we’ve heard recently that some of our colleagues in Spain have been approached again by Natural England, seeking donor birds, with an apparent assurance that these donor birds won’t go any where near the UK’s upland grouse moors! If this is an accurate report (and we have no reason not to believe it, given the source), it fits in with Natural England’s previous distortions of the truth about hen harrier persecution (we blogged about that here).

The Spanish are not stupid. We’re aware that at least some of those who’ve been approached recognise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support such an ‘assurance’, and besides, Spanish raptor conservationists are well aware of the ongoing killing of hen harriers on UK grouse moors and they consider this southern England reintroduction proposal to be a sham – just a distraction from where the conservation agencies should be focusing their efforts. By all accounts, at least some of them have told Natural England to get lost.

Bravo, Spain!

6 thoughts on “Gamekeepers ready to support reintroduction of buzzards to Salisbury Plain”

    1. Bravo indeed to Spain, and while I am at it we should approach all other prospective European donors of Hen harriers to warn them off of making such a pointless offer.

  1. This and the other farce brood meddling make me sick, harriers don’t need any of this, natural England need a kick up the arse you wouldn’t move a bank if it kept being robbed you would make sure the culprits were caught and jailed, do the same with those other organised criminals driven grouse shooting game keepers

  2. Hello, I have a question but before I get to that I will relate a story my uncle told me years ago. It is slightly off topic but I will get back to that with my question.

    A gamekeeper my uncle knew was proscecuted about 20 years ago. What he had done was trap some raptors, Peregrines I think my uncle said, sadly I can’t ask him as he passed away years ago. The keeper and his underkeeper took the birds from the estate in cages in the back of a landrover and drove 200 miles to somewhere near Edinburgh wih the intention of releasing them there. Acting on a tip off the Police were waiting for them with someone from the R.S.P.B. or a vet to check the welfare of the birds. The birds were fine and of course the laugh was that once released they would have been back on their home range before the keeper had driven half way back. He was too stupid to realise this.

    My question is this, and it is in no means designed to be agrumantative or disrespectful to you and your opinions. I am simply curious by nature.

    Do you believe that all gamekeepers are guilty of persecuting raptors or do you think that there are just more than a few bad apples that give the whole profession a bad reputation?

    Thank you for your time.

    1. It definitely isn’t all gamekeepers and it is absolutely certainly not a few bad apples. No one know but one thing is sure it is endemic on driven grouse moors. We know that from the persecution maps and the fact that grouse moors can’t sustain such high levels of grouse without illegal persecution even if that persecution is only done on surrounding estates.
      I would say that on driven grouse moors persecution is the norm if not universal.

    2. I believe the key criteria for determining this is what the representative organisations and the media for the industry say. In this case denial is the standard and is usually very strong going up to and including challenging the integrity of scientific reports confirming illegal persecution and accusing raptor workers of being responsible for birds of prey losses. The latter is particularly contemptible. If it was a few bad apples that were really spoiling it for the rest they’d be widely reported and denounced once convicted, and any gamekeepers ‘shopping’ colleagues (and this happens) would be praised for helping their profession stay clean. The gamekeepers that make an effort to stop illegal persecution seem to be few and/or keep their heads down generally. Officially the shooting community loves to say it’s unacceptable, but I’ve heard an owner of a Scottish estate describe birds of prey as vermin on national TV which moment of rare candour was almost certainly a far more accurate statement of their true mindset. If it’s not actually carried out on all estates it’s enough to seriously reduce the range and numbers of various species most obviously on grouse moors, but the corvid and wood pigeon chomping goshawk is missing from a lot of places it should be flourishing in too. Apparently young goshawk gravitate towards pheasant pens the way hen harriers like grouse moors – so we have hundreds of pairs when we should have thousands of them.

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