The RSPB is recruiting a conservation scientist for a fixed-term (one year) position to assess the ecological impacts of releasing millions of non-native gamebirds in the UK countryside every year.
The exact number of gamebirds that are released in the UK for shooting every year is not known because, incredibly and unlike virtually every other European country, the game bird shooting industry in the UK has been astonishingly under-regulated. Nobody even knows how many game bird shoots there are because the people involved have not had to register anywhere, nor report on the number of birds released / shot each year, in order to get a licence (because there is no licence!). It’s been a great old wheeze for decades.
Although some new, limited, regulation has now been introduced, thanks to a legal challenge by Wild Justice, it will still be incredibly difficult to find out how many non-native birds are being let loose each year, (currently estimated at around 61.2 million per annum). The ecological impacts of releasing so many alien species in to the countryside has to be substantial.
[This photograph of non-native pheasants released for shooting was posted on social media by a gamekeeper in Scotland]
The RSPB has been reviewing and developing its policy on gamebird shooting (e.g. here) and the findings of the newly-recruited scientist will feed in to that on-going policy review.
It’s interesting to note that one of the four main areas of focus for this post is ‘a spatial analysis to investigate to what extent raptor persecution incidents are associated with gamebird releasing’. I’ll look forward to seeing those results.
Here is an overview of what the job entails:
Recreational shooting of gamebirds in the UK is underpinned by a suite of management practices, including the annual large-scale release of non-native pheasants and red-legged partridges. With an estimated 57 million birds released into the UK countryside annually, there is much interest in identifying potential positive and negative ecological impacts of released gamebirds and of associated management on wildlife and habitats. This 1 year fixed-term role will work on identified knowledge gaps, producing outputs to inform and support RSPB policy and research development regarding ecological impacts of non-native gamebird release.
This desk-based role will include work on four main areas, with the post holder:
– Organising, undertaking and analysing a survey of land managers to characterise potential and perceived impacts of gamebirds on protected sites and species.
– Leading a spatial analysis to investigate to what extent raptor persecution incidents are associated with gamebird releasing.
– Reviewing and critiquing current gamebird releasing sustainability guidance and synthesising the associated evidence.
– Contributing to the production of peer-reviewed publications in relation to ecological effects of gamebird release.
Essential skills, knowledge and experience:
- The ideal candidate for this role will have a proven scientific background (e.g. a PhD in a relevant subject or equivalent experience designing and conducting one or more research projects to a robust scientific standard).
- A track record of scientific writing and peer-reviewed publication.
- Experience of designing and implementing ethically-sound, ideally web-based, questionnaire surveys.
- Experience of collecting, collating, manipulating and analysing large and complex data sets, including knowledge of how to apply complex analytical procedures such as the quantitative analysis of qualitative data arising from questionnaire surveys, and analysis of spatially-reference data.
- Familiar with Microsoft Office applications and proficient in the use of R or similar statistical software for complex statistical analysis, and ability to learn new techniques and programmes.
- Experience of summarising and communicating complex scientific information both to colleagues/peers and external audiences.
- Self-motivated and able to work efficiently to plan and organise their work within a defined work plan to meet deadlines.
Salary: £27,574.00 – £30,590.00 Per Annum
Benefits: Pension, annual leave
Duration: 12 months
Closing date: 30th August 2021
For more information and to apply for this position, please click here.