Last week I blogged about how a major shooting industry organisation, BASC, had attacked Suffolk Police for what BASC perceived to be an ‘offensive’ police appeal for information about the shooting of five young goshawks found dead at the edge of woodland near Thetford (here).
BASC complained that the police’s appeal was “disparaging to the shooting community” simply because the police had asked the shooting community for help to identify the shot gun-wielding criminal(!). Astonishingly, BASC’s complaint resulted in the police’s tweet/appeal for information being deleted.
Later, Suffolk Police released a joint press release with the RSPB, which seemed to enrage BASC even further. Bizarrely, BASC wrote on a blog:
“Can we assume the RSPB has more information on the matter than BASC as they were very quick yesterday to offer a £5,000 reward for information leading to conviction; shortly followed by a similar pledge from Wild Justice? It would be useful to know whether RSPB are complainants, victims, witnesses or have any other relationship with Suffolk Constabulary“.
I would argue that this is a cack-handed but sinister attempt by BASC to try and influence the narrative on raptor persecution crimes. If the police are too scared to publicise a raptor persecution incident or appeal for information about it, because they’re scared of a backlash from the industry who are, let’s not forget, responsible for 73% of convictions for raptor persecution crimes, then it’s job done for the shooting industry. No reports = no publicity = no bad press = no public pressure on politicians to tackle these relentless, systemic crimes.
And it’s not just BASC that appears to be at it. The National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) has recently written on its website its dissatisfaction with Lincolnshire Police and the RSPB about the reporting of raptor persecution offences in that county. It’s mostly about a recent incident where the remains of three barn owls, one tawny owl and one red kite were found dumped in a ditch (here), and the NGO incorrectly accuses RSPB Investigations Officer Howard Jones of ‘insinuating that a gamekeeper might be to blame for the Lincolnshire incident‘ in a BBC news article.
Actually, Howard Jones did no such thing, he was talking about raptor persecution crimes in general and he was simply stating facts – the “vast majority” of raptor persecution cases being dealt with by the courts involve gamekeepers. That is a factually accurate statement from Howard, however unpalatable/embarrassing that may be to the NGO. Neither the RSPB or Lincolnshire Police laid any blame on anybody after the discovery of those bird of prey remains in Lincolnshire – they simply said it was an ‘unusual’ case and were appealing for information (here).
The ridiculous NGO, though, has written on its website:
“The NGO are in contact with DC Flint of Lincolnshire Police and are hoping to meet with him in the near future to discuss both this case and to highlight our concerns about the reporting surrounding this case“.
Meanwhile, the NGO has failed (refused?) to publicise the recent conviction of Dorset gamekeeper Paul Allen, who pleaded guilty to multiple wildlife, poisons and firearms offences after the discovery of six shot buzzards, the burnt remains of three more buzzards, and three different types of banned poisons on his pheasant shoot and a loaded shotgun found propped up behind his kitchen door with rounds of unlicensed ammunition in an out-building.
The NGO has also remained silent about the discovery of the five shot goshawks found dumped in Suffolk last week.
Like BASC, you’ll know that the NGO is a member of the Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group (RPPDG), a so-called partnership (it’s a sham) whose main objective is to help eradicate raptor persecution by highlighting these crimes and publicly condemning the criminals involved.
Long-term blog readers will know this attempted manipulation of the narrative by the game-shooting industry is nothing new and has been going on for years, mostly behind the scenes and only uncovered via Freedom of Information requests (e.g. see here and here).
I’ve just been sent yet another example of it, this time in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. More on that shortly…