Tuesday, 20 May 2014

RSPB should be congratulated

The Carrion crow is sometimes controlled on RSPB reserves
Martin Harper, the RSPB’s conservation director has published on his blog the number of “vertebrates killed on RSPB reserves by us and our contractors during 2012/13”.

He goes on to say “As I have written previously, vertebrate control on RSPB reserves is only considered where the following four criteria are met”:
  • That the seriousness of the problem has been established;
  • That non-lethal measures have been assessed and found not to be practicable;
  • That killing is an effective way of addressing the problem;
  • That killing will not have an adverse impact on the conservation status of the target or other non-target species.
There are four main situations where the above criteria are met. These are to:
  • Increase breeding productivity of ground-nesting birds (mainly waders), principally by controlling foxes;
  • Reduce numbers of deer where they are having a detrimental impact on the vegetation, especially by overgrazing the ground flora in woodlands and preventing tree regeneration.  Often deer management is undertaken to prevent damage or aid recovery of nationally important wildlife sites;
  • Protect nesting seabirds;
  • Benefit water voles by killing non-native mink.
Martin has also recently addressed the National Gamekeepers Organisation AGM, stating afterwards that “the debate was actually healthy and friendly. It is only through talking that we get to understand each other a bit better and that is a prerequisite to any collaboration”.

Before the AGM Lindsay Waddell, the Chairman of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, said: "It is a great pleasure to have Mr Harper as our guest at the AGM. I'd like to extend to him a warm welcome. I am greatly looking forward to hearing his address on the RSPB's position regarding shooting and conservation and its stance on the environmental work done by gamekeepers across England and Wales."

Lindsay added: "Make no mistake, Mr Harper's landmark speech will break new ground for us. It will be the first time the RSPB has engaged directly with the NGO's membership at a national level. I hope for a constructive discussion on how game management and the RSPB can work more harmoniously for the good of our countryside and its wildlife."

As I have often said on this blog, I am a great believer in “Jaw, jaw rather than war, war” when dealing with a range of difficult subjects that arise when managing a complex countryside, and that a sensible debate, with all sides being prepared to listen and discuss these issues, has to be the way forward.

So I congratulate Martin. I'm quite sure that behind the scenes he will have taken some stick for talking at the NGO’s AGM and for openly admitting that predator control takes place on RSPB reserves, by publishing numbers of Crows, Foxes and Deer that have been culled. He has been refreshingly brave in clearly stating the RSPB’s position.

If we are to continue to be allowed to have legally targeted predator control and to stamp out the illegal persecution of, in particular Raptors, we must all work together.  By “ducking” issues that scientific studies highlight, just because they are considered a little unsavoury and may prove to be unpopular with the population as a whole, is not the answer. 

We must all be brave too.

To read in full what Martin has said,

1 comment:

  1. Martin Harper should be congratulated for engaging with the people who really know how the countryside works, but he certainly won't be able to pull the wool over their eyes. For this audience he has to come clean on the need to control predators on RSPB reserves.

    If the RSPB realise the need for control on their reserves surely it is but a small step for them to realise that this need also applies to the rest of our countryside where his four criteria for control are equally valid.

    The seriousness of the problem HAS been established.
    Non-lethal measures HAVE been assessed and found not to be practicable.
    Killing IS an effective way of addressing the problem.
    Killing will NOT have an adverse impact on the conservation status of the target or other non-target species.

    Perhaps congratulations to the RSPB as a whole should be reserved for the time when we see his cull figures and the need for predator control featuring in the RSPB media including their mouthpiece - the BBC.