Raptor persecution highlighted in Cumbria magazine

Raising public awareness of ongoing raptor persecution crimes is probably the single, most important thing that just about anybody can do.

You don’t need to be an expert on birds of prey, nor work in the conservation sector, nor to have a massive following on social media. All you need is an understanding that birds of prey are still systematically killed in the UK, almost 70 years after they became protected species, and that this killing most often takes place on land managed for gamebird shooting, where raptors are being poisoned, shot or trapped.

Nobody in their right mind is ever going to support this brutal slaughter, and yet many are still oblivious that it continues in 21st century Britain. Many assume it stopped back in the Victorian era. The more people that know that it still goes on today, the more pressure can be put on politicians to take meaningful action against it.

With this in mind, it’s great to see this opinion piece by Fiona Heslam, published in the August edition of the Cumbria magazine.

Thanks to Jamie Normington (@TLWforCumbria) for sharing it on social media.

12 thoughts on “Raptor persecution highlighted in Cumbria magazine”

  1. I think this piece could have been stronger with more facts and figures to really bring home the enormity of the issue, however, I’m amazed that the magazine even published it at all. That the magazine is to be found in many hotel bedrooms in the county is another bonus.
    As you so rightly say, raising public awareness is crucial to the fight against this despicable ‘sport’. It is precisely because the majority still know nothing about the issues that allow the politicians to do nothing to stop it.

    1. Thanks Paul. I had a 500 word limit for my opinion pieces (I have now stopped writing for Cumbria magazine to focus on other things). As a mathematician I would have loved to create and intense facts and figures piece but I felt that telling the story was really important. The idea that I would be viewed as crazy if I came up with such a ridiculous scheme today was a powerful one for me.

  2. Cumbria magazine publisher, also the Dalesman, from a Yorkshire Dales base – just across the valley from the Bowland Moorlands group of Raptor specialists.

  3. I suppose it would be in the interests of the criminals in the shooting industry to leave the birds of prey on their own land alone for a few years but extirpate them from neighbouring RSPB reserves, then they can keep making their ridiculous claims about the “superiority” of their “conservation”.

    1. Leaving them alone!..are you mad!…..one explanation for ongoing raptor persecution is that they cant “leave them alone” it goes against the very nature of grouse moor owners/keepers and shooters..who havent been laeving them alone for the best part of 170 years. If one moor was to try that, there would be a howl of protest from their neighbours..as has happened up here in Scotland on a couple of occasions I have known.

    2. Hi Simon, I have never heard of an Estate playing a long-term PR game like that, but it might be true somewhere or other. But as for this area in particular – certainly not. The fortunes of ALL predatory birds and beasts around there fell off a cliff-edge within a year or two in the mid-90’s and have been at that very low level ever since, oddly enough in direct contrast to the numbers of grouse! Plenty of things available online for anyone to research and to consider the reasons as to why for themselves.

      1. At a national level I’m certain there’ll be a reference to the number of birds fledged on grouse moors compared to how poorly the RSPB has done with hen harriers. The first point will of course be a gross misrepresentation, in the past the grouse shooters were tenants not owners of a closely scrutinised moor where the harriers finally managed to raise a brood. And of course the fact that RSPB Geltsdale is surrounded by grouse moors and there’s been a long and sorry history of interference from outside agencies will not be raised. I’ve heard of estates that permitted a pair or two of raptors to exist, flagged them up to conservation organisations who of course thought they were the good guys, while ruthlessly killing every single other bird of prey that strayed on to their moor.

  4. This was a superb piece considering it was just one page. I’m delighted Fiona made a strong reference to flooding which will certainly resonate in Cumbria, the 2005 Carlisle flood cost over four hundred million quid, and it’s had bad floods there before and since. If the link between lowland flooding and the state of our uplands gets made by enough of the public grouse moors will not be in a comfortable place! Really good to see she pointed out that RSPB Geltsdale is surrounded by grouse moors as well.

  5. Yes, Unfortunately it isn’t only the birds suffering, but the reptiles, small mammals and insects which die in the moorland burning; the humans and animals downstream suffer too, including fish and aquatic invertebrates. It’s a much larger count that many of us realise.

  6. Since the topic is raising awareness I’ve just encountered this superb (certainly compared to what’s gone before) video from Rewilding Britain. I was very pleasantly surprised because it didn’t bend in anyway towards keeping those currently involved in ‘economic’ activities in the uplands happy. If it harms the land, wildlife and reduces real economic activities it goes, no compromise – that means hill sheep farming AND grouse shooting are for the chop. It did a really decent job about bringing in the flooding issue which is rare, it often doesn’t even get mentioned and it’s an absolute killer re grouse shooting. This is an excellent video not least because it hints at what we’ve been missing out on for generations, but can now look forward to. Very well worth watching and passing on – https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/explore-rewilding/what-is-rewilding/rewilding-the-uplands?fbclid=IwAR1SZ1mbpQOiiv8I8FdqLd8ugkc7Il8KFwJ7wHb8ZjfI8zEvvQd_PYq5vC4

  7. This valuable, considered article coincides with a valueless contribution made by Baron Botham, to the ‘debate’. He has apparently started in on the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and others he perceives as ‘opponents of game bird shooting’. On behalf of the shooting fraternity, he has told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The haters of shooting have made a strategic mistake in thinking they could make the sector into fox-hunting Mark II. With fox-hunting, the Marie Antoinette view of the countryside won the day – the public preferring to pretend that foxes don’t slaughter countless birds day and night. Game shooting is different. It pulls together broad communities to bring in the harvest from the skies.’
    It’s ironic, when you know that keepers decimate native wildlife to maintain artificially high numbers of grouse, & introduce millions of non-native, farm-bred game birds into the countryside every year to enable shooters to … checks notes … er, ‘slaughter countless birds’ for sport! Here’s hoping the ‘Farage-effect’ impacts on RSPB coffers, hey?.

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