Our letter to The Guardian in response to Illegal bird of prey killings fall to lowest level in decade, but ‘true figure may be far higher’
The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) utterly condemns wildlife crime. There is no excuse for illegal activity, and it is depressing that the crimes of a few casts a shadow over the vital contribution to reversing biodiversity decline made by the majority of those involved in moorland management.
However, it is disappointing that the RSPB’s latest Birdcrime report fails to acknowledge the extraordinary success story of the hen harrier Brood Management Scheme, which, in just five years, has seen England’s population increase to a 200-year high. It is hard to understand how this cannot be regarded as a ‘meaningful recovery’.
The report also fails to acknowledge that grouse moor management provides an ideal habitat for harriers and other ground nesting raptors such as merlin and short eared owls, which are vulnerable to predation and prefer the heather clad landscapes maintained by the work of the moorland managers. This management protects peatlands from the threat of wildfire and, as GWCT peer reviewed research has shown, is saving some of our best loved waders such as curlew, golden plover and lapwing from likely extinction.
The Brood Management Scheme allows this important conservation work to continue alongside the restoration of England’s hen harrier population. It is surely a shining example of human/wildlife conflict resolution that would be the envy of other countries trying to find similar solutions.
Dr Alastair Leake GWCT director of policy