Standing up for shooters as conservationists
Icannot help but at long last, sit down and put pen to paper, over what I (and I am sure many others) see as a major and very important factor having a significant impact on the countryside that we enjoy and rely on for our sport.
In a word: predators.
In all my years involved in shooting, I have never known the numbers of these natural born killers as great as today.
Not only does this group include what is a lengthy list of raptors, but we also have corvids (I have never known so many magpies – even in suburban areas) and now we have gulls in areas where there once were none, and many of these, like the birds of prey, are totally protected.
the list does not end there for we also have cormorants and in certain areas of our countryside there are serious complaints about the growing numbers of ravens, which are even forming packs and killing young lambs.
When you add this to the four-footed (protected) species, i.e. the pine marten and more familiar badger, then surely our leaders should awaken to the fact that much of our wildlife is under serious pressure.
I am sure that the folks at DEFRA and Natural england, along with our own association’s leaders, are aware that there is a need for management control (even of the ‘protected species’) but will not press this fact for fear of upsetting certain bodies.
As all of us involved in country sports know, it is our gamekeepers, riverkeepers, ghillies, stalkers, farmers, foresters etc., who contribute most and oversee the state of our countryside, so let them manage it without interference from bodies official and otherwise, who quite often know less about our countryside than those mentioned above.
In certain continental countries like Austria, which has a greater variety of birds of prey than we do, they are allowed to cull them sensibly if numbers demand. We should, as land managers, gamekeepers etc., also be allowed to operate in this manner and probably would if not for the pressure on government bodies from those who have more interest in stopping shooting than conserving birds.
Instead of us constantly being told about the hen harrier problems (of which I imagine most of us are now thoroughly fed up) by the rspb, maybe they should think about the effect of all these winged killers, i.e. the sparrowhawk, buzzard, crow, magpie etc. are having on our songbird population.
We could go on, but suffice to say that our governing bodies should begin to be more positive about what we legally do, and, if the antis don’t like it – tough!
Let’s be more positive and proud of what we do, for generally our wildlife is in better shape on land managed for shooting than land that is not.
Colin Saunders west midlands