Call for honest, collaborative approach in the attempt to end raptor persecution
BASC chairman, Peter Glenser, has called for open and honest dialogue between all sides of the raptor debate. The long-standing dispute reached boiling point recently following the publication of the RSPB’s ‘Bird Crime 2016’ report, which looked at incidents of raptor persecution and focused much of the blame on the shooting community as a whole, and on those involved in upland game management in particular.
Speaking about the immense damage a small minority are causing our sport, Mr Glenser said: “We make the point that raptor persecution could render terminal damage to the sport we all love and BASC is clear that we must all take personal responsibility for ensuring the criminal minority do not ruin it for the lawful, ethical majority.
“This is a stand that BASC is taking not only for today, but also for future generations. We must not lose sight of the immense good done by the shooting community, but the criminal minority could cause damage to us all and the shooting community needs to speak as one on this issue.
“For worthwhile, sustainable change to take place, there needs to be clear dialogue among all those who have a passion for shooting and those rural organisations with shooting at their heart.
“We must also talk plainly and openly with those who may not immediately be considered friends of shooting. There is a need for honesty from all sides – only then will constructive progress be made.”
It is a sentiment echoed by other shooting organisations, with the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) publishing a response to the Bird Crime report which included the following: “The NGO is an active member of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime, and it is well known that the NGO believes in cultivating dialogue among stakeholders involved in rural issues.
“We sincerely wish therefore that the RSPB would take a leaf out of our book in working to promote consensus and, rather than seeking to demonise the many in game management that uphold the law, join with us in working to alienate the very few that operate outside it.” The Countryside Alliance also condemned those in the shooting community that give ammunition to those campaigning against the industry, and highlighted the falling trend in raptor persecution compared to that of a few decades ago. Chief executive, Tim Bonner, wrote: “The reality is that, for those who are motivated to campaign against shooting, any illegal raptor killing is a justification, and those within the shooting community who carry out such activity are not only idiotic, but also provide exactly the ammunition our opponents need.
“Of course, there are still a few who think… that the killing of protected species is acceptable, but change has happened, and continues to happen, because of leadership shown within our own world.
“For decades… the Alliance has preached a message of zero tolerance to illegal killing, and will continue to do so. The [downward] trend will continue and we will succeed in making illegal killing history.”
The Moorland Association also believes a collective dialogue is the solution: “Of course more can be done, particularly in the restoration of the hen harrier population, and the best way to achieve progress is for people across the sector, including the RSPB, to continue to work together constructively.”
The UK benefits from a range of rural organisations pursuing various agendas – but can we afford to not work together?