Help fund science to show the real impact of predator control
An appeal from Professor Nick Sotherton, Director of Research, Advisory and Education
You may have seen the recent coverage of the proposed changes to the General Licences, which raised the prospect of a ‘shoo before you shoot’ ruling - requiring you to ensure that all other methods are tried before shooting crows and pigeons. Such a policy would tie the hands of many of those who use predator control to protect game and wildlife.
With predator control under the spotlight, many lobbying groups are pushing for an end to several country practices used to control predator numbers; practices that give game and farmland birds their best chance of survival.
Legislation can have a positive influence on the running of the countryside, but without robust evidence to ensure the facts are heard, it can become a straightjacket stopping you from undertaking practical conservation.
If we lose the management tools to control predators effectively, numbers of some species could reach historic lows.
Previous research shows that predators caused 43% of ground-nesting bird nests to be lost. This included lapwing and wild pheasants. If our hands are tied in stopping crows and other predators destroying eggs and chicks, the populations of many species face severe decline.
The General Licence consultation has started. Last time, in 2009, over two-thirds of responses were from campaigners wishing to see an end to many wildlife management methods, despite the vital role they play in sustaining lapwing, grey partridge and brown hare populations.
We should not concern ourselves with point-scoring or emotive arguments based on romantic ideals. Effective management of our countryside requires pragmatic solutions that embrace the needs of both man and nature.
Together we must be prepared to provide balanced evidence on effective wildlife management when its legitimacy is challenged.
You can help us achieve this.
In last year’s membership survey, more than half of you told us predator control was the most important issue facing the countryside. There is no doubt that it is firmly on the agenda.
We are raising funds to research and publish new science on the impact of predators on game and farmland birds. The regulating authorities need robust, dependable evidence on which to base their policy decisions and very often the GWCT alone is able to provide it.
Your support gives us a voice above the crowd.
After studying lapwing, curlew and golden plover in the uplands from 2000-08, we saw that the average breeding pair was three and a half times more likely to breed successfully if it was in an area subject to predator control.
I’m sure that you, like me, still marvel at the distinctive colour and shape of a lapwing in flight. It should be unthinkable that our grandchildren might never see this wonderful sight with their own eyes.
Please help fund our research to ensure a healthy balance of nature alongside agriculture and other land-uses
Dedicated research work is the only way to find the real impact of predation. It allows us to produce the peer-reviewed science that makes people sit up and listen. With our expertise founded in practical experience, our scientific skills and our reputation for ‘telling things how they are’, we are also well-placed to carry out commissioned research.
No other organisation in Europe has made this commitment to refine and improve predator control methods.
Our three man team is working tirelessly to gather the science which influences policy and practice throughout the country.
Three new pieces of research will provide insight about the most effective, efficient and humane ways to control foxes, corvids and grey squirrels that pose a real threat to survival rates of some game and farmland birds.
Effective predator control options will only remain available if we have balanced evidence informing the debate
How you can support our Research Funding Appeal today
£67 – covers the cost of attending a meeting with Defra or other bodies, to present our evidence and help shape policy
£176 – buys a trail camera which can be used for several years to monitor traps and other sites
£480 – pays for a day’s labour and equipment for our three person predation team, producing the science that can influence policy and practice for years to come
Supporting this work can help increase survival rates of several species for years to come. 25 years ago donations allowed us to test the Larsen trap for the first time in the UK.
It soon became an essential tool in controlling corvid numbers and remains so today. Undertaking new research is the next step in establishing more effective control measures.
Having the evidence of the true impact of predator control allows us to put the facts in front of other individuals and organisations. This lets those in the countryside get on with what they’ve been doing for decades – looking after our beloved game and wildlife.
Please help provide the science to give game and farmland birds a fighting chance.