Let’s step up and take responsibility
I recently found a copy of Shooting Times and read the news item about hen harriers (Grouse moors’ key role in hen harrier success, 8 August 2018). It prompted me to ponder — in view of subsequent and somewhat less positive news regarding the fortunes of the hen harrier — whether the continuing documented deaths and disappearances at managed grouse moors are accorded similar prominence in your magazine. Not to mention the recent sorry episode involving two short-eared owls at Whernside.
It is certainly laudable if the management of grouse moors does in fact lead to increased hen harrier breeding success. But this effort is squandered if the fledglings never reach maturity and viable adults “disappear”, having been shot, poisoned or trapped.
While the impression given is that the shooting fraternity feel that they are unfairly associated with much raptor persecution, I believe that your magazine has a responsibility and a role to play in changing ideas. If such failures and wrongdoings were to be highlighted to the same degree, it might result in the eventual shouldering of a greater collective responsibility, to the benefit of all.
G. Hardy, Cheshire
The Editor responds: Raptor persecution is one of the biggest threats to shooting, which is why in these pages, on social media, and in the mainstream press, this magazine has railed against it. There was a time when young keepers on some estates were exploitatively expected to commit acts of criminality as part of their jobs. This was done in pursuit of bigger bags and greater profits — nobody should be allowed to profit in the short term to the detriment of fieldsports in the long term. Those days are thankfully almost entirely gone but anywhere where such a culture persists should be given the cold shoulder by the shooting community.
I have reported wildlife crime in the past and would urge all readers of this magazine to do so. Licences for controlling predators are desirable in some places, but the ease with which such licences are obtained is currently hindered by the actions of the lawless few.