National Gamekeepers Organisation’s pathetic response to Channel 4 programme on rampant raptor persecution

Two weeks ago the RSPB announced that it had seen a ‘surge’ in reported raptor persecution incidents since the Coronavirus lockdown (see here).

The response from the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) was its usual attempt to undermine the credibility of the RSPB, bleat about being a signatory to an as yet undemonstrated stance of ‘zero tolerance‘ of raptor persecution, and to demand information from the police on recent raptor crimes (see here). Here is a copy of the NGO’s response, copied from it website (red bit highlighted by RPUK):

Fast forward two weeks and we had the excellent Channel 4 News special investigation featuring raptor persecution on North Yorkshire grouse moors (see here), which featured the utterly compelling dialogue between a senior police officer and the CH4 correspondent, as follows:

Alex Thomson (Channel 4 News correspondent): Lockdown has seen a sharp increase in reports of birds of prey found dead. We joined Inspector Matt Hagen of North Yorkshire Police as he followed up reports of a dead bird of prey seen in the Nidderdale area.

Inspector Matt Hagen: I’m absolutely shocked and disgusted at the level of raptor persecution that I am coming across.

Alex Thomson: Inspector Hagen told us that of 30 birds he’s collected in the past six months, only one has died of natural causes and his investigations lead clearly to a single group of suspects.

Matt Hagen: All the shooting investigations that we’ve got going on at the moment are involving gamekeepers on grouse moors.

Alex Thomson: All of them?

Matt Hagen: All of them.

Alex Thomson: Every single one?

Matt Hagen: That’s right.

The National Gamekeepers Organisation has now published a response to the Channel 4 News programme. Bear in mind that the programme delivered exactly what the NGO had previously asked for (i.e. details from the police instead of the RSPB) that placed gamekeepers at the centre of every single current criminal investigation relating to the illegal killing of birds of prey in North Yorkshire. Here’s what the NGO now has to say:

The NGO says the news “is a concern“. The NGO says it is seeking “clarification on the source of the information and statistics provided“. Where’s the condemnation? Where’s the disgust? Where’s the reaction to those shot buzzards being pulled out of a hole on a grouse shooting estate? This response is pathetic.

The NGO says it is part of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG)  – which came as a bit of a surprise to us given that it resigned ‘permanently’ from the partnership after a massive tantrum in January last year (see here and here). Those decent organisations on the RPPDG who genuinely want to tackle illegal raptor persecution (e.g. RSPB, Northern England Raptor Forum, BAWC, North Pennines AONB, Sheffield Wildlife Trust) really need to start thinking about their positions on this forum. By remaining, they legitimise organisations such as the NGO (and others) who are able to use their membership as a badge of respectability and credibility.  They’re making the good guys look like mugs.

13 thoughts on “National Gamekeepers Organisation’s pathetic response to Channel 4 programme on rampant raptor persecution”

  1. Personally I would be happy for the NGO to be represented at RPPDG meetings this year despite their leaving last year. They may find it uncomfortable as the other members are much more likely to question more strongly their commitment to eradicating raptor persecution. Who knows, with the greater attention being paid to the known crimes we may yet see more of the people responsible being taken to court.
    I fully recognise that no one on the grouse shooting industry is presently prepared to acknowledge that it is based upon organised criminal activity the time is approaching when this may change.

    1. The NGO is in an impossible situation. Their cherished lifestyle is under threat, the facts are plainly against them and the public are becoming more interested. Plus, in general they are not bright people. Obviously, they need to be shown up as talking complete bull at every opportunity. But we must remember that the real power-base for the continuation of this cruel, immoral and law-breaking farce rests not with them – the yocals burning their work trousers each week (true, I am told) for fear they splashed some raptor blood on them…but as ever with several hundred establishment figures with serious political clout. I would love to know to what extent (if any) those bloated ticks felt vulnerable after the C4 feature.

  2. Aha the NGO have returned to the RPPDG, have the rest of them and the police who run it agreed to that because unless they start to deliver on its aims I’d be telling them their resignation was accepted and there is no reason to readmit them. Asking where the information and data come from when it is now clearly in the hands of the police is obtuse to say the least and as you say the complete lack of outrage is very telling. As long as there is no genuine outrage or the talk of a “Raptor debate ” on the websites of various shooting websites one can label them all justifiably as apologists. Frankly I would not be asking RSPB, NERF, BAWC etc what they are doing on the RPPDG, I’d be asking most of the shooting organisations what is their contribution other than obfuscation and strongly suggesting they leave as have NGO.

  3. I wonder if the RPSB will reply? Good to see their attention to detail is every bit as good as their zero-tolerance approach to wildlife crime.

  4. Enough already! Just ban driven game shooting. Encourage these persons to take exercise in pursuit of their “sport” by walking up the quarry birds themselves. like real ‘fowlers’ and rough shooters do. That way they might get our respect, too.

    1. Totally agree. It is the only way that grouse shooting can survive in my opinion. Grouse at 40 times their natural level is idiotic. A decent pointer and a couple of guns I would have little issue with, but what is the point of blasting hundreds of birds out of the sky in a days grouse shooting. A couple of birds for the pot isn’t going to bring in the cash, but that is the only way I can see it surviving. Time has come to ban driven grouse shooting.

  5. If you think the NGO response was bad, check out the NYMMO response. The “moorland group” for the North York Moors which I believe includes the estate at the centre of one of the recent incidents. An instagram post with some conspiracy nonsense about Nick Lyall’s suspension, and about the timing of this latest incident being made public (despite it being completely normal to make these cases public several weeks after first being reported).

    And also a comment about wanting to see the evidence (including eyewitness evidence!!???) despite the birds being x rayed and shown to have been shot, and even with shot injuries visible in the channel 4 report which includes the police video.

  6. There are a lot of gamekeepers and whilst they will slaughter predators not all will do so illegally. But that begs the question ‘is there a secret society within the profession that the majority know nothing about/are not privy to’. If not, and gamekeepers must communicate, why have the good guys not shopped the bad to rid their profession of these ‘few bad apples’. Answers please NGO/BASC/SGO etc. Dear Amanda and Tim seem to have lost their voices on this but that’s no miss.

    1. Ernie, I know I am just an anonymous person behind an anonymous name and you are entitled to be sceptical about what I say. But don’t swallow the ” few bad apples line”. I’m not a keeper but have some deep threads that connect me to that world. Regards grouse keepers, I am content in my own mind to say that for 90% of them the pursuit of hooky beakies will take up minimum 30% of all their time over the year. Many of them these days are total thugs & morons, but the sad thing is a heck of a lot of them are otherwise good people, good family men, honest and decent fathers & sons, etc. It is just they are totally unable to see the bigger picture. It makes me deeply sad tbh.

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