6/9/2017

Ignoring facts to suit a narrow agenda: our letter to The Times

Harrier

Sir,

The RSPB are right to say an organisation must not “ignore facts to suit its narrow agenda” (letter, Sep 5). The most productive location for hen harrier nests, 47 fledged young from 12 nests, was achieved by gamekeepers on Langholm Moor just three years ago. However, their improvement of the moorland habitat and protection of these ground nesting birds from foxes has now ended, because conservationists could not agree on how to also recover grouse numbers. Should hen harrier numbers drop to the two pairs there were before these gamekeepers arrived in 2008, the birds might ask who has the narrowest agenda.

Andrew Gilruth
Director of Communications
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Comments

Hen Harriers and Langholm

at 13:14 on 12/09/2017 by Stephen Mawle

From a conservationist perspective It is hard to understand the RSPBs negative attitude towards finding a workable and realistic solution to resolve the Hen Harrier / moorland management conflict. From a political / revenue viewpoint it makes perfect sense, as a successful compromise will remove one of their most potent PR weapons with which they raise significant annual donations whilst deflecting criticism of general poor upland bird breeding performance on their own reserves. The RSPB may claim to be neutral on shooting but I for one firmly believe that the executive are fundamentally opposed. They are willing to sacrifice as many species as necessary on the alter of political correctness in order to see shooting banned.

Hen Harriers

at 11:46 on 12/09/2017 by Bryan Benn

An excellent letter to The Times. I am increasingly confused by the RSPB approach to Hen Harriers. On one hand they are constantly, and quite rightly, raising the issue of the lack of breeding pairs in parts of Britain. Yet seemingly not prepared to put, by their standards, a very small amount of money into Langholm to support even one gamekeeper going back in the most critical physical locations for Hen Harrier breeding. Subject, of course, and very much so, to the landowner still wanting to allow such activity as control of foxes, and other predators, to protect Hen Harrier breeding. In a recent exchange of emails I had with the RSPB, I pointed out that one gamekeeper would cost them little more than 5p per RSPB member per year to re-introduce limited game keeping. To help preserve, from what I have seen over the last four years, and pointed out to the RSPB, a centre of excellence for Hen Harrier breeding, just a few wing flaps north of England. I just hope the RSPB will re-think their strategy on Langholm. Not on their own, but also with at least some of the other partners, most certainly including the GWCT, and of course the landowner. And take this low cost option to participate in actively controlling the predation of Hen Harrier young. Rather than concentrating the focus on just monitoring what will most likely be steady decline in Hen Harrier breeding success on that moor.

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