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  • C4PMC

RSPB failures lead to endangered birds burning to death

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Since lockdown began wildfires have been spreading across the UK’s uplands causing untold damage to endangered birdlife, as well as threatening habitats and releasing dangerous amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Almost without exception, the significant wildfires have taken place on areas of land managed by the RSPB. When Saddleworth Moor set alight in 2018, it burned for three weeks. It is well publicised that it released as much as half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide; equivalent to the yearly CO2 emissions from over 100,000 cars.

This year on Crowden Moor, next to Saddleworth, a major wildfire burnt for days before the fire rescue service were able to control it with the help of local gamekeepers. What is not talked about however, is the number of endangered birds, such as curlew and lapwings, which are in the middle of their nesting season during this time. A conservative estimate would suggest the number of birds burnt to death in these fires is well into the thousands, and that’s before we start talking about other species that live on the moor.

(RSPB’s Mark Thomas holding a stolen Osprey egg.)

Even Mark Thomas, RSPB Head of Investigations UK was recently quoted as saying: “Spring is a time when birds…are most visible and therefore vulnerable, as they put on courtship displays, build nests and find food ready to breed.” The question though is why the RSPB, who receive millions of pounds of public money each year in order to protect birds, are allowing this to happen every single year even though they know this is such a vulnerable time for them?

By contrast, there have been no significant wildfires on any piece of moorland that is properly managed and privately owned. Even more, this doesn’t cost the taxpayer any money.

The RSPB seem determined to try and deflect blame from their own failings in protecting endangered species, with the latest effort being to once again blame gamekeepers for alleged incidents against birds of prey. The RSPB should be thanking gamekeepers for their firefighting services as well as for being able to manage moors and protect endangered species.

It is no surprise to learn that RSPB members are increasingly turning their backs on the organisation as members increasingly questions its purpose.

One member, when asked recently about the impact of wildfires on RSPB reserves, replied saying, ‘I’m really not sure why I’m a member anymore to be honest, I joined an organisation that was focused only on the protection of birds, now it seems to have been hijacked by political extremists. I don’t care about the half the stuff they try and ram down our necks in each member’s update. I’m focused only on preserving endangered birdlife, our leadership seems to be focused on politics. I find local birdwatching organisations offer far more than the RSPB.”

It is clear that if the RSPB are serious about the fundamental purpose of their organisation rather than wasting taxpayer’s money, they need to seriously address the way they protect endangered birdlife, particularly ground nesting birds, on their reserves, rather than allowing them to burn to death each Spring.


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