A new report has been published today outlining the findings of what looks to me like yet another pseudo ‘partnership’, supposedly tackling the illegal killing of raptors, this time in Yorkshire, the UK’s worst hotspot for bird of prey persecution.
[Photo by Ruth Tingay]
Calling itself the Yorkshire Dales Birds of Prey Partnership, it involves the usual suspects including representatives from BASC, CLA, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation as well as conservationists from the Northern England Raptor Forum and the RSPB, two police authorities (North Yorkshire and Cumbria), Natural England, Nidderdale AONB and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. The area covered by the ‘partnership’ includes the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the neighbouring Nidderdale AONB.
If this sounds at all familiar then you’d be right. It appears to be an almost carbon copy of the failed ‘partnership’ in the Peak District National Park, where the game-shooting organisations have done their level best to disrupt and distort the reporting of the scale of the persecution problem there, for years, and that so-called ‘partnership’ has failed to deliver time and time again (e.g. see here, here, here, here, here).
It’s hard not to be cynical about the Yorkshire version of the failed partnership, especially when essentially it appears to be many of the same players involved. Perhaps this time it’ll be different?
Who am I kidding.
The new report published today, called an ‘Evidence Report’, relates to 2020 and documents the status of raptor populations and the recorded persecution incidents from that year. It’s data-poor for most species, carefully avoids telling the public certain things (e.g. the Marsh harrier overview on page 7 is laughably coy about this incident) and tellingly, ‘Publication of the report was delayed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of bird of prey persecution data collated by the RSPB and audited by the police’s National Wildlife Crime Unit‘ according to the accompanying press release. Yep, this is a common tactic deployed by certain shooting organisations who routinely challenge the RSPB’s official and carefully curated data, with the clear intention of discrediting the figures.
Here’s the report for anyone who can be bothered to read it: