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How Bob Berzins and the Moorland Monitors are 'damaging UK conservation efforts'

Over the weekend the Moorland Monitors released an image to the Derbyshire Times of a dead stoat that had been killed in a legally set Tully trap as part of the group’s efforts to drive a campaign of harassment against gamekeepers.

For the untrained eye, any sort of dead animal in a trap is highly emotive, which is why this is a favoured tactic of activists like Bob Berzins and his group of saboteur activists, the Moorland Monitors.

Stoats are well known for their ability to decimate population numbers of ground nesting birds and their eggs, as well as other small mammals. Such is their ruthless destruction capability the RSPB have recently launched a £6 million project to wipe them out in Orkney.

Many would question Berzins claim: "These [stoats] are animals people who use the Peak District want to see".

Despite their destructive impact on endangered local species and the fact they need to be legally controlled, Bob Berzin’s Moorland Monitors have now started manipulating the details of how traps work.

In his evidence published on the groups Facebook page later printed into the Derbyshire Times, Berzins claims the new legal Tully traps are “suppose to kill the animal instantly but you can tell by its back leg that is was trying to get out.”

Only once again the problem with this statement is that it is entirely wrong and demonstrates Berzins continue willingness to manipulate facts to pursue his personal vendetta against the gamekeeping community.

As anyone who has handled a Tully trap will know, a stoat is killed instantly with a single blow to the head on entry to the trap. This is why these traps are used and why they have passed rigorous testing by DEFRA. The positioning of the back legs of the stoat is down to nerves having been killed instantly, not because as Berzins says that it miraculously survived the blow to the head and decided to try and crawl back out of the trap like a resurrected phoenix.

Berzins clearly has no experience actually seeing these traps in action nor has he bothered to do even the slightest bit of homework on this – or perhaps he has but why would he want to let the truth get in the way of his vendetta. These traps are widely used around the world for the control of stoats, as is shown in this video for a leading nature reserve in New Zealand.

What makes Berzins and the Moorland Monitors claims even more frustrating is that they were made on the same day the widely respected author and conservationist, Mary Colwell, started her new role as Chair of the DEFRA supported Curlew Recovery Project.

Curlews and their eggs are a favoured food source for stoats. It is why the Curlew Recovery Partnership is admirably bringing together all those with an interest in curlew conservation, including land managers, farmers, gamekeepers, policymakers and researchers. They are joining forces to help secure the future of one of England’s most iconic and threatened species, the Eurasian curlew.

The group's manager, Russel Wynn, is an honest conservationist and exactly the sort of individual needed to bring together the appropriate people needed to make the recovery project a success. He recognises that that the two primary threats to the Curlew are nocturnal predators, including stoats and foxes and people pressure.

Despite Curlews being one the most endangered red listed species in the UK and the pinnacle experience for many bird watching enthusiasts, Berzins recently claimed in a public presentation to the Sheffield Green Party that their presence were merely ‘a smokescreen’ for land managers.

If people like Bob Berzins and the Moorland Monitors had their way and Tully traps and other legal predator control methods were not possible, there would be virtually no wildlife left for him or any others to see. They recognise this, but would never say it. The only logical assumption therefore to make is that their claims really have nothing to do with wildlife but are simply a selfish personal vendetta.

The sooner people recognise that Berzins and his Moorland Monitors for the charlatans they are the more chance our waders will have of recovering.


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