Is shoot­ing the young of our quarry ac­cept­able?

Air Gunner - - Con­tents -

Is it ac­cept­able to take branch­ers as soon as they fledge? The edi­tor replies

Iwrite this in the mid­dle of April, know­ing that soon the young rooks will be on the branches around their nests and I’ll visit the rook­ery in­tent on killing them. Some of you may know this as a tra­di­tional way of re­duc­ing the rook num­bers in the area, whilst oth­ers may see the method as un­ac­cept­able. Can killing naïve young birds in the name of pest con­trol be jus­ti­fied?

My answer is a sim­ple ‘ yes’ it can, and the rook is a good ex­am­ple. These birds are highly in­tel­li­gent and travel in num­bers, mak­ing get­ting close to them al­most im­pos­si­ble. It’s not just air­gun hunters who find this to be true. Shot­gun­ners at­tempt to de­coy them within range, and fail as of­ten as they suc­ceed. Cen­tre­fire shoot­ers snipe them at long range, one at a time, but it’s like emp­ty­ing a swim­ming pool with a tea cup. One or two kills make lit­tle dif­fer­ence when the flock ar­rives hun­dreds strong.

I feel it’s a case of ‘needs must’, and I’ll take any chance to re­duce these dam­ag­ing birds that the farm­ers and game­keep­ers loathe, when­ever I can. I’ve heard peo­ple say that as eth­i­cal hunters we need to show our quarry re­spect, and I’ve ar­gued that we do as long as we make clean kills. In na­ture, there’s al­ways a high at­tri­tion rate in the young of all crea­tures, as preda­tors, dis­ease, and bad weather take their toll – and I see my role as the preda­tor. Young rab­bits and pi­geons make good eat­ing, and there’s a tra­di­tion of mak­ing rook pie with the breasts of the young birds, but I’ll con­fess that my kills go to a friend who feeds them to his fer­rets. I’m afraid that I draw the line at eat­ing corvids be­cause of what they chose to eat; see­ing them as food is one step too far, for me.

Rab­bits and pi­geons breed through­out the warmer months, and par­ents los­ing their young will soon have more, so we’re only just hold­ing back the tide. Re­mem­ber, a young fe­male rab­bit will soon be­come fer­tile and have young of her own, ac­cel­er­at­ing the pop­u­la­tion of that warren.

I don’t take the young of my quarry with­out con­science, and only do it when I feel it’s nec­es­sary, but I will kill young birds and an­i­mals when the need is clear. If the per­son who gives you your hunt­ing per­mis­sion asks you to do so, I be­lieve you should do it, too.

“I feel it’s a case of ‘ needs must’, and I’ll take any chance to re­duce these dam­ag­ing birds”

Above Right: Once the young birds get strong enough they move out onto the branches. Be­low Left:: If you can find the rook­ery you have a chance to re­duce their num­bers

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