My post on harriers and grouse moors has already borne fruit, in that Tom Cameron kindly suggested I contact Steve Redpath at the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Environmental Sustainability. Steve has done plenty of work on the harrier/grouse conflict, and tells me he is determined to help find a solution.
"We are only going to move on if there is broad agreement about illegal killing and impact," he says. "There are various possible solutions to the problem, but we are only going to get there through dialogue and especially dialogue between the moderates on both sides, whilst isolating the extreme views." For the record, he states that "there is pretty compelling evidence from a variety of sources that illegal killing is going on and limiting harrier numbers on managed grouse moors".
Steve also warned me against writing off the raptor lobby as extremists, pointing out that they are as diverse as the shooting lobby, with a wide spread of views. And he pointed me in the direction of some of his published work on this subject - for instance the positive and forward-looking Hen harriers and red grouse: moving towards consensus? published in the Journal of Applied Ecology in 2009. He also pointed me to the Environment Council's Hen Harrier Dialogue.
Steve has given me plenty to think about, and plenty of homework to do - but I find it immensely encouraging that this sort of work is already going on towards a solution.
Over the next few days I hope to talk to several people at the sharp end, as it were, and discover what the conflict looks like from their perspective. Watch this space...