Friday 4 February 2011

'Please don't publish this but...'

I'm getting a number of supportive emails from shooters about my stance on harriers and raptor persecution generally. Interestingly, they all say "this is not for publication but..."

There are clearly a lot of shooters who, like me, find raptor persecution totally unacceptable - but are nervous of standing up and being counted. I can understand that. There's a sense you might be perceived as letting the side down, by appearing to side with the antis.

I think that's a mistake. I think shooters should proudly stand up and say that they're against raptor persecution, that they won't tolerate it on any shoot they're involved in, and that they'll do everything they can to bring criminals to justice.

Like me, they'll be suprised to discover just how much support they've got.

Here's a (redacted) example of the sort of messages I've been getting:
Hi James,

I've just read your item concerning hen harriers and shooting on your blog and would just like to say that I agree with everything you say. I've been interested in all aspects of shooting since my early teens (I've forgotten how long ago that is), but also have a keen interest in birds of prey...'s good to see this issue being addressed in a national shooting publication.  I'm with you - raptor persecution is unacceptable and I feel that if it is not addressed by the shooting community, it will be the issue that is used by those opposing shooting to bring us down.

Kind regards,

Xxxxxxxxxx Xxxx

P.S. - I'd prefer you not to publish this e-mail


Mike Price said...

Its a shame because its paints the picture of denial of the issues or worse that people agree with whats been going on.

It's highly likely that like many people there are a large number of shooters who have never realised that these type of things are still going on (certainly not to the extent that is becoming apparent)and those that do suspect it, for the reasons you state are unlikely to voice their opinion too loudly.

I agree that shooters should stand up and be counted, as well as adding to the growing pressure on those who seem to be determined to completely decimate the UK's raptor population, it adds balance to conversation and debates that take place about this subject.

Not everyone is going to agree but if you can take the extreme views away whats left in the middle might just be able to find a solution to these issues.

Hannah said...

I am new to shooting, and have only been beating four times so far. I have really enjoyed it, and can't wait for next season to begin. But I am uncomfortable with the idea of raptors being killed for the sake of shooting. I don't think the shoots I go to do this kind of thing, but if they did I would be in a difficult position. To be honest, I think the answer for me would be to walk away from the sport.

If shooting is going to continue, and attract new people to the sport, it needs to evolve.

Daviddegernier said...

Hello James,

My own views on this are that corvid numbers in most areas are excessive and cause massive damage to all birds, whether they are gamebirds or songbirds and should be brought under control where necessary “through legitimate methods” and that NO ILLEGAL killing of any protected species should ever be carried out.

However, there needs to be the facility where a particular protected bird such as a buzzard that is continuously predating poults for instance, can be controlled under license when all alternative methods to deter have failed. There is the facility in the legislation for this to be done, but to my knowledge, NO license, to be allowed to do this has ever been granted,thus pushing a keeper into a “between a rock and a hard place” situation. Keepers need to be given permission to remove, under license, persistent predators, or else they are being forced to consider the illegal alternatives.

Illegal killing of protected species does us all a dis-service and gives the anti-shooting fraternity a big stick to beat us with.