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Predator control leads to 'very impressive' nature recovery, in a welcome change from Mark Avery

As many readers will have likely seen by now, Mark Avery, wrote a glowing review of the Return of the Grey Partridge by Roger Morgan-Grenville and The Duke of Norfolk, which highlights the extensive conservation effort, and impact that work has achieved, on the Peppering Estate in West Sussex.

Avery wrote: “It’s a very good read and charts a remarkable rise in Grey Partridge numbers, secured through habitat improvement and intensive (though always legal, we are told (and I am inclined to believe it)) predator control. In 2003 there were 3 pairs of Grey Partridge counted in spring on the 800ha study area whereas from 2011 onwards every year has seen a count of 200-300 pairs. That’s impressive, more than impressive, it’s very impressive. Also impressive are the autumn counts, the counts that determine whether shooting will occur and on how many days, and they have increased from 11 birds in 2005 to over 1000 birds in 10 of the last 13 years and over 2000 birds in 3 of those 10 years.”

Avery rightly recognises the positive impact the use of legal predator control is having at Peppering and describes himself as “slightly uneasily content [that a large number of predators are being bumped off]”.

Could this be the start of the a more open, honest and pragmatic approach from him? Let’s hope so.

However that contentedness towards legal snares is in sharp contrast to Avery’s Wild Justice colleagues, Ruth Tingay and Chris Packham, who have repeatedly campaigned for these humane and effective conservation tools to be banned.

The Welsh Government has recently banned snares, which if were the case in England, would have meant the whole Peppering project would have been unviable and the impact on nature catastrophic.

In a remarkable change of tune Avery has recognised that in his analysis of Peppering. Packham, Tingay and many others have not.

It is really quite simple. If we want our most endangered species to flourish, indeed if we want to prevent total extinction of many of these endangered species, then we must carry out robust predator control. The consequences of not being robust are all too clear to see across the country’s many RSPB reserves.

Ironically it was the Peppering Estate where former Rewilding Britain policy advisor, Guy Shrubsole, recently filmed himself sabotaging these legally set traps, boasting of his trespass and vandalism. The same traps that, in Avery’s words, have achieved “very impressive and remarkable” conservation benefits.


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