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Bob Berzins' latest book presentation 'full of lies and slanders' against moorland management

We've written about Bob Berzins before on these pages. He's an activist and spokesperson for the Moorland Monitors. It should be no surprise therefore that he once again has been found to be publicly purporting lies against gamekeepers and moorland management practices, particularly given his relationship with the local criminal, Luke Steele.

Last night Berzins gave a lecture online to the Sheffield Green Party based on his views on moorland management and his self-published book, Snared.

To the surprise of no one, the lecture was full of inaccuracies and merely highlighted this man's crusade to spill hateful propaganda against gamekeepers. In the past Berzins has even tried to accuse a gamekeeper of 'assault', after a picture was taken of him by a gamekeeper with a camera after he was spotted on a grouse moor the same day a number of legal traps disappeared or were found vandalised, but that's a story for another day.

But let us look at his presentation last night. Within the first five minutes of his lecture he had declared that 'adders were now extinct on our moors as a result of heather burning'. Anyone who spends much time living and working on the moors can tell you how ridiculous a statement this is. Given we know Berzins reads the material that is published about moorland wildlife, he knows very well that our uplands are the preferred habitat of adders.

[Photo of an adder on grouse moor in Yorkshire Dales taken by gamekeeper]

Here is an example of large adder basking in some rare Yorkshire sunshine on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales earlier this year. Although their numbers have fallen across the UK they are still a common sight to most gamekeepers working in the UK's uplands. They give birth to around 6 to 20 live young in August or September and feed largely on small rodents and lizards. Their main predators include birds such as crows and buzzards.

But Berzins saved his greatest disingenuousness for when he was asked by a member of the audience about the number of jobs and livelihoods that depend upon shooting within the South Yorkshire area and whether there were alternatives. His response was farcical, even for him.

He said: "There are very few jobs [that depend on shooting in South Yorkshire]. It is only 10 gamekeepers...there would be huge opportunities if we replaced shooting with tourism."

Where do we even start with such a ludicrous response? Anyone with the slightest knowledge of countrysports can tell you that the number of gamekeepers working in South Yorkshire is vastly higher than the 10 that Berzins suggests. However, as most locals understand and appreciate, those jobs supported by shooting extends far beyond just gamekeepers. There are local hospitality businesses, such as pubs and restaurants, mechanics, machinery, agricultural suppliers, construction workers and many many more. All Berzins would have to do to understand this, if he genuinely doesn't already, is read the University of Northampton's excellent research report from 2019: What Impacts does Integrated Moorland Management, including Grouse Shooting, have on Moorland Communities?

Furthermore, the concept that eco-tourism is going to provide anything like a comparable alternative for jobs and local income has been disproved time and again.

Most notably on Berzins' home patch of the Peak District in the August 2019 when hundreds of 'eco-tourism' enthusiasts turned up to catch a glimpse of the bearded vulture that had got lost. Not one of them stayed locally, or even bought anything from local restaurants. They made do with their pack lunches and drove from all four corners of the country without staying. That's the reality of most eco-tourism.

But that's the thing about activists like Berzins; why would they allow the truth to get in the way of the narrative they seek to portray to serve their own agenda?


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