Friday 11 June 2010

Time for the RSPB to stop persecuting birds of prey

I never thought I'd read that headline, never mind write it. But birdwatchers are, seriously, accusing the RSPB of killing birds of prey. Eagle owls to be precise. On the flimsy grounds that a) an eagle owl was videoed attacking a nesting harrier and b) said eagle owl appears to have met with an unfortunate accident.

Mark Avery is adopting the demeanour of a smacked puppy: "Just to stress," he implores, "there is no truth in the suggestion that the RSPB has been involved in the killing of these eagle owls."

Welcome to my world Mark. I've been a shooter all my life, and never persecuted a bird of prey. When some soppy urban bird-lover asked me to shoot the sparrowhawk killing 'her' blue tits, I told her to get lost.

And I'm sick of all the abuse thrown at 'the shooting industry' (myself included) for, apparently, killing wildlife wholesale out of sheer greed. I'm not an industry, I'm me. I grew up surrounded by wildlife. I love to watch it. Sometimes I like to catch some and eat it. Nothing could be more natural, unless you're one of those 'nature lovers' who hate humans.

Sure, there are some greedy people making a lot of money out of grouse moors, and some of those will be happy to kill harriers etc along the way. I'm not one of them. I despise them, and I wouldn't dignify them with the name 'shooter'.

They are developers, pure and simple. Like a property developer demolishing a bat roost, if wildlife gets in their way, they'll trample it.

I take no pleasure from seeing harriers harmed by owls. But I can't suppress a little smile as I watch the birders tie themselves in semantic knots about which bird of prey is more worthy than another, which one is more deserving of a place in Britain because it lived here before, and how man should intervene (or not) to correct an imbalance that man created (or not) etc, etc.

There's a real battle brewing between the 'leave nature alone and it'll all work out perfectly' brigade, and those who have some fluffy notion of a moment in prehistory when everything was just as it should be, and are forever trying to shoehorn nature into their picture of loveliness.

They're both wrong, and neither can succeed. Nature isn't (and never was) like that, and even if it was there's the little inconvenience of 60m or so humans sharing this small island, most of whom can't tell a house sparrow from a dunnock and are far more concerned with which footballer is going clubbing with whose wife this week, and what shoes she's wearing.

And yes, they'll happily sign a fluffy little letter to say how much they'd like to save the polar bears, but just try asking them to pay another tenner on the weekly shopping so their chicken nuggets can stretch their wings.

You can tell it's been a long week, can't you. Right-o, I'm off to have a weekend before I dissolve into a little steaming heap of cynicism. I might even go and sit in the woods and see if I can get some film of the fox cubs. That or fishing. Best therapy I know!


Sooty said...

Hi James think farmers feel similar to you in that those high up in RSPB seem to think kick farmers but say that you are really helping them and they will respond in a fashion that suits the RSPB whereas of course farmers think why should we take notice of what they say.The wardens etc on the ground take a much more rounded view and of course if the RSPB had a more positive approach instead of constant criticism wildlife on farms would be the winner.A really sorry state of affairs and then they are surprised when landowners in East Anglia put signs up saying no Eagles here.In my view a consequence of the constant criticism and without their co-operation my guess is that project will have to be abandoned,sadly for lots of people a big loss.Have often wondered where these egg thieves get such detailed knowledge from and if it is from a employee in one of the bird charities then they have their own problems to sort out first because for sure the egg thieves have to be getting information from somewhere.

Vicky said...

Perhaps now the RSPB knows how it feels this will lead to a new era of respect and co-operation.
I had a good nights sleep and am full of optimism this morning!

Anonymous said...

A situation has developed in Bowland where it seems two eagle owls have disappeared leaving their three chicks to starve. Two have died, one is currently missing.

I understand the RSPB, Natural England, the landowners (United Utilities) and the local wildlife police were all aware of the situation, yet nothing was done to rescue the chicks. The "sticking point" according to Dr Mark Avery, is (was?) the Lancashire Police. (Source: email reply by Dr Avery to Chrissie Harper.)

You can read more about this on the totally bonkers Raptor Politics site, and maybe later on the BBC news.

So - not the Raptor Politics crew fingering PC Duncan Thomas & co this time, James!

Meconopsis said...

Any chance of a showdown.

Fat Boy Vs Slim Jim ?

The rumble in the countryside with fieldsports TV filming ???

vicky said...

I think the RSPB will be losing some supporters. It was sad to see Mark Avery when interviewed on the decision not to release Sea Eagles in Suffolk for the time being saying the only opponents were some 'hysterical landowners'. The farmers in question had genuine fears which may or may not have been founded but nevertheless they were their fears. The RSPB has a very poor attitude towards anyone who doesn't sing from their songsheet. After all the Sea Eagle hoo haa they have been grounded by.....the financial crisis!

Sooty said...

Think the financial crisis is a excuse the real reason must be that they will never get Sea Eagles in England unless they get land owners on side and even now they are saying the RSPB with private backers may push it through and something like 71% wanted Sea Eagles in a poll as if that has any relevance.GET REAL RSPB TREAT LAND OWNERS WITH RESPECT AND YOU MAY GET CO-OPERATION.they are really the only % that will allow Sea Eagles to flourish however galling that may be for the RSPB.Interesting that a farmer at Salisbury had one all lambing time about 30 months ago and had no problems so lots of conflicting views on the damage they would do.