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Only 28% of bird of prey 'crimes' took place near a grouse moor, yet RSPB remain fixated on DGS

Despite Mark Thomas of the RSPB suggesting that grouse moors are largely responsible for the number of bird of prey incidents across the UK, the latest RSPB bird crime report confirms that only 28% of them took place anywhere near a grouse moor.

Indeed, the RSPB's Chief Executive, Beccy Speight, stated in the report that “If the Government fails to deliver effective reform within five years, the RSPB will call for a ban on driven grouse shooting”.

Such a call by the charity is not backed up by evidence, not even their own, and totally disregards the findings of an extensive report into the sustainability of driven grouse shooting that has recently been published by the University of Northampton.

That report has taken the environmental, social and economic dimensions at the core of mainstream sustainability identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and considers each one in detail.

This is extremely important as anyone making decisions about the use of moors on which driven grouse shooting takes place needs to ensure that any change is at least as beneficial to all three dimensions as the status quo.

The research found that: no alternative uses have been put forward for managing grouse moors that would deliver the same positive economic impact to some of the most remote parts of the UK; and there is no evidence that the alternative uses for moorland that are commonly proposed will increase natural capital, or add value to the ecosystems services currently provided.

In calling for a ban of driven grouse shooting, The RSPB is demonstrating either willful blindness, or a remarkable degree of ignorance, paying no attention to the impact such a fundamental change in land use would have both on biodiversity in our uplands, and the livelihoods of many.

Furthermore, the typically one-sided report fails to make any mention of the fact that across the UK birds of prey are actually doing incredibly well, with well over 250,000 now found around the country, which is their highest level for over 100 years.

In many cases, such as in Berkshire, the numbers of birds of prey now existing are creating huge social and environmental problems with attacks on children and the decimation of endangered ground nesting birds.

Nor does the RSPB's report make any reference to the fact that hen harriers have just experienced a record breeding season with an 800% increase in over the last years. The majority of these hen harrier nests were found on land managed for red grouse.

There has been a lot of talk about balance in the conservation debate in recent months and the need to collaborate, however all that is seemingly ignored in the presentation of these agenda driven statistics.

It is clear that by weaponsing the statistics the RSPB remains relentless in its campaign against driven grouse shooting and its associated land management practices, its annual Birdcrime Report has become only a blatant lobbying tool with which to try an influence policy makers to that end.

It once again reinforces the perception that the RSPB seek to portray grouse keepers as the enemy in order to rattle a large funding tin to cover their executive salaries and colossal annual expenditure, much of which has no benefit to the wildlife that they are too frequently tasked with managing.


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