Death of White Tailed Eagle in Dorset brings reality shot for activists on public crime priorities
When hysteria meets cold factual reality, there is always a sense of indignation.
But rarely more so than when that hysteria comes from renowned animal rights activists. Therefore it was almost inevitable that there ended up being a Twitter pile-on reaction – stirred up by Mr Packham and the usual suspects – against Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, after he deigned to suggest that rural policing should focus on the issues that matter most to the communities that he was elected to represent.
In this specific example, Mr Loder was referring to the huge amount of resources used and publicity generated after it was reported that two White Tailed Eagles had been found dead in the South of England. Mr Loder politely suggested that police resources should be prioritised towards key issues that impact the daily lives of the local population, such as the country lines drug smuggling epidemic causing widespread social destruction and violent crime across much of the country.
No one is condoning the death of the two White Tailed Eagles. But it is also very clear where the public – the genuine British public, as opposed to the Twittersphere echo chamber – want the police to focus their rural crime efforts.
The top three answers to this question, according to recent polling research undertaken in December 2021, were:
Theft and burglary: 32%
Interestingly, animal rights extremism followed closely behind as a key issue for the police to focus on, with 27% wishing to see much tougher sentences imposed against activists. Bird of Persecution was a priority for just 0.7% of respondents.
Focusing on the story in question – that of the two eagles, one of which was found in Dorset in January and the other in Sussex, apparently in October – one cannot help but wonder why the police have allowed the animal rights bandwagon to ‘claim’ the stories for their own. As is always the case when a bird of prey is found dead, the Wild Justice campaigners jump in and accuse sporting estates, and gamekeepers in particular, of having some involvement, without any evidence whatsoever.
Indeed, raptors across the UK are now at record levels with close to 300,000 to be found across the country. The shooting industry today is very different to that in the past, and persecution is now extremely rare.
[Red kites on a shoot in the South of England]
So why, as Mr Loder himself asked, are the police spending so much time and resources on this case? The only thing linking these two cases is that the birds had both originally been released on the Isle of Wight; it seems highly unlikely that their deaths were connected to one another in any way. If there is any evidence that their deaths were suspicious, this should surely be pursued by the police privately, rather than in the public eye and without the anti-shooting lobby breathing down their necks.
Birds of all descriptions sadly die every day for any number of reasons. Just two examples from the last month include a white-tailed eagle found dead on the Isle of Skye recently was found to have succumbed to avian flu, a disease which the UK is currently in the middle of a pandemic of, and a merlin who died from a tick bite. However hard humans try to protect rare birds, including birds of prey, it is inevitable that some will die, from a plethora of causes.
[Merlin which died from tick bites]
To return to Mr Loder, politicians of any party are not known for taking positions that are not backed up by public support. Therefore Mr Loder, who enjoys a majority of 14,106, knows that the vast majority of his constituents have little interest in White Tailed Eagles – but they do have huge interest in other crimes which often fail to get the police resources they deserve.
We need to take into account the bigger picture when it comes to crime. According to latest ONS national statistics in 2021, over 61,158 individuals were raped in the UK last year. There were 716 murders in the UK in 2020, and 44,000 stabbings. It is worth remembering these statistics when certain agenda filled animal rights activists troll MPs because two birds have been found dead – behaviour that once again reflects the bizarrely self-righteous dogma they seek to preach.