Top ten failures of 2021 from Wild Justice and friends - Day Six
Cognitive dissonance is a wonderful thing. It certainly helps conservationists no end – whether that’s in opposing muirburn just to let wildfires rip through our uplands, or protecting birds of prey only to erect huge, raptor-ripping wind turbines in the countryside.
But in October this year, the RSPB - who boast Wild Justice's Chris Packham as a Vice President and Mark Avery as a former Director of Conservation - really pulled off a blinder when it managed to put forward two totally contradictory pictures of bird crime in the same document.
Initially, the charity’s annual bird crime report confirmed that only 28% of incidents in 2021 took place anywhere near grouse a grouse moor. Then, a few pages later, RSPB Chief Executive Beccy Speight issued a dictum saying that if the government failed to deliver “effective reform within five years” the organisation would “call for a ban on driven grouse shooting”.
Such a ludicrous ultimatum is not backed up by any evidence – not even the RSPB’s own. 28% of crimes is hardly an overwhelming proportion; especially when you consider the greater likelihood of bird crimes being reported near grouse moors due to the number of rubber-necked activists poking about.
Furthermore, the typically one-sided report fails to mention the fact that birds of prey are generally doing very well across the UK, with over 250,000 now found around the country – the highest level for over 100 years.
Hen Harriers in particular have had a bumper few years, enjoying an 800% increase since 2017. What’s more the majority of these nests were found on land managed for red grouse.
If the RSPB wants its threats to look serious, it should at least ground them in serious facts. Then again, the overwhelming number of MPs who voted in favour of grouse shooting in June’s Westminster Hall debate suggests the Royal Society will need more than some strong words to get anywhere close to a ban on the sport.
Oh well, better luck next year.