With straight faces, shooting orgs profess ‘zero tolerance’ for raptor persecution

Sixty six years after it became illegal to kill birds of prey in the UK, five pro-shooting organisations yesterday issued a statement professing ‘zero tolerance’ for raptor persecution.

For those new to the subject of illegal raptor persecution in the UK this statement might look credible. For those of us who can spot sophistry at 200 yards it’s anything but credible.

You only need read as far as the second sentence of this joint statement to see straight through the greenwash:

“…….and while many reports of such persecution have proven to be false and confirmed cases are decreasing year on year……..” Really?

Actually, here’s an interesting graphic showing confirmed raptor persecution incidents in England & Wales over the five years 2014-2018 (2019 data not yet analysed), from the RSPB’s data hub and accepted by the National Wildlife Crime Unit:

In 2014 there were 58 confirmed incidents

In 2015 there were 58 confirmed incidents

In 2016 there were 69 confirmed incidents

In 2017 there were 62 confirmed incidents

In 2018 there were 72 confirmed incidents

And of course in Scotland we know from the Government’s most recent annual report (2018) that raptor persecution crimes more than doubled on the previous year.

The shooting organisations’ joint statement isn’t fooling anyone. And it’s not like the industry hasn’t claimed ‘zero tolerance’ before, e.g. see here, and yet what we see repeatedly are shooting organisation representatives sneering and ridiculing the RSPB when covert video evidence has been ruled inadmissible in prosecutions for alleged raptor crime (e.g. here), we see high-end barristers (often of QC status) brought in to defend the accused (who pays the legal fees, because they’ll be beyond the gamekeeper’s pocket?) (e.g. here), we get walls of silence from the shooting organisations when clear evidence of raptor crime has been uncovered (e.g. here) and instead of expulsions from shooting organisations following a successful conviction we see statements of support (e.g. here).

What’s probably the most amusing about this joint ploy is reading the ‘further information’ bit where we learn what measures the industry has planned to tackle illegal persecution:

Providing training opportunities for shoots to understand laws that protect raptors‘ – er, it’s pretty straight forward isn’t it? All raptors are protected, don’t kill them. How much more training is required?

Shoot owners, or their representatives, tenants and employees should attend a training course to familiarise themselves with laws that protect raptors‘ – you mean they’re not already familiar with the law that’s been enacted for 66 years?

Delivering a shooting sector awareness campaign on laws that protect raptors‘ – Yes, 66 years is nowhere near long enough for everyone to have got the message.

And perhaps best of all, this:

Continuing to support the collaborative efforts to resolve raptor persecution including as members of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime and the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group

Would that be the same Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG) that these five organisations boycotted last year because they questioned Police Supt Nick Lyall’s integrity as RPPDG Chair and didn’t like the idea of conservation-oriented organisations being invited to join? Is that what they mean by ‘collaborative efforts’.

If you really want to understand just how ‘collaborative’ these organisations have been on the RPPDG then have a read of this damning letter written by Steve Downing, Chair of the Northern England Raptor Forum, written to Det Superintendent Lou Hubble of the National Wildlife Crime Unit who is facing investigation after the Countryside Alliance’s nasty, vindictive complaint about her integrity earlier this month (gosh, anyone seeing a pattern here?). Steve’s letter makes it quite clear why no progress has been made on tackling raptor persecution via the RPPDG.

And hang on a minute – the National Gamekeepers Organisation is a signatory to this joint letter claiming to support the RPPDG but didn’t they actually resign from the RPPDG after the ‘collaborative’ boycott? Ah yes, so they did.

Sorry, BASC, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation and Country Land & Business Association – but you’re going to have to do better than this to convince anyone that you’re serious about eradicating illegal raptor persecution. It all just smacks of desperation to avoid incoming regulation – a bit like we saw in Scotland in 2010 when over 200 estate owners wrote to the then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham claiming to condemn raptor poisoning at a time when estate licensing was being discussed. Ten years on and Scotland is on the verge of enforced regulation because persecution has continued relentlessly….

UPDATE 12th March 2021: ‘Zero tolerance’ for raptor persecution? They’re fooling no-one (here)

34 thoughts on “With straight faces, shooting orgs profess ‘zero tolerance’ for raptor persecution”

  1. Excellent shredding by RPUK.
    So they are *****. We know that so who is there target audience. Why now? They are up too something.
    I think it is a cover for something. The only thing that comes to mind is that they are using this as an example of ‘good will’ so that they can ask for a load of licences to kill legally.
    Nothing changes with this lot, killing is the goal.

  2. These organisations must get really pissed off when their attempts at hogwash are so systematically and forensically dissected by RPUK. As suggested above, it looks as though they’re up to something. Could it be that a meeting with Defra is in the offing and they’re seeking to occupy the moral high ground (fat chance!) in advance?

    1. I’ve sometimes wondered, whether, if there’s a moral high ground there must also be an immoral low ground. If so by their disingenuous statements and cynical machinations BASC et al occupy it.

  3. Well, in all the circumstances quoted in the statement, it can only be that the raptors are shooting and trapping each other! They are clearly especially pernicious in Nidderdale and the Forest of Bowland!

    1. Well it’s either that or the unwelcome possibility that red grouse are, in fact, efficient and voracious predators of hen harriers, peregrines, goshawks, short eared owls etc. This could explain why all of these species are largely absent from the grouse farms.

  4. I can’t think of any other business that would have to have ‘a clause prohibiting illegal activities’ in any agreement between two parties.

    Can you imagine negotiating a supply contract and having to stipulate that the goods were legit (honestly guv), and hadn’t fallen of the back of a lorry.

    How on earth can they claim that these businesses are open and above board when this language has to be written down in an agreement between parties?

  5. Bird protection legislation is 66 years old and yet the Werrity Report recommends another 5 years of killing raptors to let the shooting fraternity catch up with the legislation. We need an effective licensing system in place now. If estates are not beaking the law what have they to fear?

  6. If we were to swallow this statement wholeheartedly we might in the very near future, because a persecution case will come to light very soon we might think well they will deal a heavy blow to the culprits even if we cannot get them to court. Also it may be that some conservation organisations or folk on the fringes of this may accept this at face value or give these dark side organisations the benefit of the doubt. Surely the many aware of current persecution of raptors will not swallow this at all, even if it is genuine which I very much doubt only action in future incidents or a complete and lasting decline in persecution would indicate some honesty here. If any of these organisations told me the sun was shining I’d need to look to prove it, they have twisted truth and reality so often before.!
    Until proven otherwise we should all treat this with a level suspicion borne of experience. the claim about Buzzard licences and harrier BM means this is still a long way from what we see as current requirements. To my mind they remain completely untrustworthy.

  7. Interesting; in effect, what they are saying is that they have no control over the gamekeepers who work for them, and of course they don’t have control over farmers, so are farmers responsible for the whole lot? Or People with illegal access to guns, traps and poisons?
    Of course not. It’s just the Shoot owners trying to divert the blame from their own failure to control the actions of their staff.

  8. Ha ha ha, I needed a good laugh. Do they honestly think anyone is going to be fooled by their politician style promises?

  9. All in favour of this bit of their letter; Further information. bullet point 5, first two words.

    btw, where do the dubious bit coin adverts come from? Or am I the only recipient?

  10. Excellent and comprehensive rebuttal of the shooting industry’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ statement. Very well done and many thanks.

  11. Excellent response from RPUK who have driven a horse and cart thru this rubbish statement. To coin that famous Native American saying, ‘They speak with forked tongue Kemo Sabe.’

  12. The most often repeated and least successful new years resolution ever.

    Does the fact that they are repeating this solid commitment again – because it’s been ineffective the last forty times- not raise questions with their brood meddling partners? What ever happened to the promises that were made to the project partners? What happened to the “there will be no project unless it stops” rule?
    One partner makes commitments it can’t keep and the other can’t keep to commitments it made!


  13. Jesus , this sounds like it was written by some random Guy in the office that knows no better , does nobody ever look over this shite before they decide to put it out ?

  14. Talk talk talk we all know what happens next , watch this space for the next harrier or eagle found killed on a grouse moor and then listen for the pin to drop as all these lovely decent people from the above organisations fall silent and bury their heads in the peat, business as usual eh lads

  15. Given the distance between this statement and the facts, there seems no option other than to regard these organisations as either delusional to the point of needing professional help or habitually mendacious. Their vicious attacks of the RSPB, RPUK, etc suggests the latter.

    1. John, if you attended the number of Public Inquiries (and LPA planning meetings) as I have you would learn that very highly paid, very senior, managers will willingly lie and lie and lie… and do it in public. In a ‘high stakes’ game they will do, and say, *anything*.

      These people are far from delusional. They are xxxxx.

      Grenfell, Hillsborough, Mid-Staffs etc etc do not happen by ‘accident’.

  16. Following Brexit, there will be the replacements for CAP. The UK government has said subsidies must be earned. Take away the subsidies from the shooting estates and pretty soon most of them will be out of business. So I suspect BASC, Countryside Alliance etc will be busy trying to establish their “green” credentials in hopes continuing to keep their snouts in the subsidy trough. I reckon their case will be quite hard to justify.
    Ironically I suspect most of them voted for Brexit, only to find it will now cut off a major source of their income, making farming grouse un-viable. From what I hear, a lot of grouse moors, pheasant shoots and upland tenant farms will be converted to forestry as there are more subsidies and a better return in the long term.

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