15th Dec – Bob Berzins, Moorland Monitor
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Bob Berzins describes himself on his Twitter account as an ‘Environmentalist fell runner’. That is one way to describe him – but there are others. In 2018, for example, when Bob happened upon a dead raven that he suspected had been poisoned on a moor in South Yorkshire, he was described on Dr Ruth Tingay’s Raptor Persecution website as simply a “member of the public”. Which of course Bob is, along with everyone else. But what else is Bob? He is an active member of the Sheffield Green Party, writing a letter to the Yorkshire Post about Hen Harrier Day in their name (a letter which was, unsurprisingly, full of falsehoods and as even went as far as questioning whether the visiting lammergeier was safe in the Peak District). In 2018 this “local moors champion” wrote a report for the Sheffield Green Party entitled:Report from the Front Line: What's Happening on Moors near Sheffield. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report is full of the kind of untruths that have we come to expect from anti-grouse shooting campaigners – including claims that moorland management causes Sheffield to flood, takes money from the public purse, and that there are no birds of prey in the Peak District. But none of this should really surprise us because, after all, Bob is also a vocal member of theMoorland Monitors group, founded and led by Luke Steele, who featured in his very own advent calendar day on 12 December. In May, an article inThe Times quoted Bob speaking on behalf of the Moorland Monitors – a group they fluffily referred to as “a grassroots monitoring network”. Surely anyone who follows their ‘work’ – either as supporters or detractors of what the monitors do – can see that the Moorland Monitors are far from simply a monitoring network. As we know, the group’s leader Luke Steele – who has a criminal record and was in court again as recently as March of this year – is known for intimidating and harassing gamekeepers simply trying to do their jobs. This is the company that Bob chooses to keep – and it is thought that he has been behind the campaign against the Moscar Estate, which has included the persecution of a young gamekeeper, culminating in the posting of his personal details including address and numberplate online.
But at the same time, as allying this with his Green Party membership, he has also been a Local Access Forum Member for the Peak District National Park Authority. Through his interest in fell running, he has gained a foothold with the Park Authority – though who knows if they are aware of his links to the Moorland Monitors. “Through his involvement in the Stanage Forum he has developed his interest in access and conservation, and works with landowners, keepers and conservationists to improve understanding of the impacts of fell running on local moorland,” states their website. A keen writer, Bob writes columns for the Fell Runners Association website and magazine. He also writes elsewhere – including as a guest blogger on the website of Mark Avery (of Wild Justice fame). Further to that his self-published novel,Snared– set, funnily enough, in England’s moorland – “dramatically lifts the lid on a spectrum of illegal activities, ranging from raptor persecution to dog fighting and money laundering. This is the story behind the façade of heather-filled moors and skies full of red grouse”. Mark Avery says: “buy a copy ofSnared so that Bob makes a tiny amount of money and I think you’ll enjoy reading it”. We are sure it is in top spot on all of your Christmas lists!