The RSPB can be very unsentimental at times. Next year it plans to spend £1.7million killing rats for being non-native and threatening biodiversity on a remote Pacific island. The rats, you see, were brought there by sailors (well their ancestors were) so they've no right to be there. And they are eating 25,000 seabird chicks "alive" annually (perhaps they could be forgiven if they euthanased their prey humanely first). The rats' nefarious behaviour (eating to stay alive) is threatening the Henderson petrel, found nowhere else in the world. So they must die. Every last one of them.
It's ok cos they're just rats, and it's a long way away. Just try the same argument with eagle owls in the uk and you get a very different response, as Mark Avery discovered recently. One rule for the cute 'n cuddly...
Meanwhile, back home, Scottish gamekeepers are getting a kicking in the Guardian today, after a "study" by bird of prey experts estimates that only 1% of the "naturally occurring number" of hen harriers are breeding successfully on the UK's grouse moors. It's all based on a figure plucked out of the air for how many harriers "should" be living on Britain's grouse moors. Strangely, no figure is given for the number of harriers, etc, etc, that "should" be living on the RSPB's reserves.
Oh, and entirely coincidentally, these revelations appear just as Scottish ministers are considering proposals for "licensing grouse moors" and making owners liable for "persecution" of birds of prey by gamekeepers. Cos that would help wouldn't it? I cannot believe the RSPB honestly think the measures they're suggesting will "save" a single bird of prey.
Still, that's not the point. All this spin and lobbying has little to do with harriers, and a lot to do with gaining power over more and more money and land. And of course they get the full support of a significant number of Scots who would like to see foreign landowners exterminated, like non-native rats.