Metropoli­tans de­clare war on our pre­cious lark

Chris Pack­ham should be sacked by the BBC for pro­mot­ing his dam­ag­ing and ig­no­rant agenda

The Daily Telegraph - - Letters To The Editor - JAMIE BLACKETT Jamie Blackett is a farmer and au­thor of ‘Red Rag to a Bull, Ru­ral Life in an Ur­ban Age’ (Quiller)

Clas­sic FM lis­ten­ers reg­u­larly vote for Vaughan Wil­liams’s mas­ter­piece The Lark As­cend­ing as their favourite piece of mu­sic. It touches us more than any other com­po­si­tion, per­haps be­cause it mim­ics na­ture so closely, and the liq­uid ex­u­ber­ance of the lark’s singing, as he hov­ers above his nest, is for many of us the iconic sound of an English spring.

Per­haps that is why so many peo­ple – par­tic­u­larly ru­ral peo­ple, as the song­bird in ques­tion is no met­ro­pol­i­tan – are so bloody livid right now, be­cause the lark, al­ready in­creas­ingly rare, has edged one step closer to ex­tinc­tion this week.

Why? Be­cause a highly paid BBC pre­sen­ter has used the power he has been given by our state broad­caster, paid for by mil­lions of li­cence fee pay­ers, to bully the gov­ern­ment agency re­spon­si­ble for say­ing which birds can be con­trolled (and which also seem­ingly has the power to

change the law with­out re­course to Par­lia­ment).

Nat­u­ral Eng­land has bowed to a le­gal chal­lenge from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists led by Chris Pack­ham, who call them­selves Wild Jus­tice – surely an oxy­moron if ever there was one. Which means that, in the very week that farm­ers – those of us who gen­uinely care about pro­tect­ing birds like the lark – are set­ting Larsen traps to con­trol their num­ber one en­emy, the car­rion crow, they have been told that do­ing so is no longer le­gal. Just as the lark pop­u­la­tion is at its most vul­ner­a­ble, it has been de­clared open sea­son on it for ev­ery crow and mag­pie in the coun­try.

Vaughan Wil­liams’s com­po­si­tion is based on Ge­orge Mered­ith’s poem of the same name and Mered­ith could have been writ­ing about the ubiq­ui­tous Pack­ham when he wrote: Un­think­ing save that he may give His voice the out­let, there to live Re­new’d in end­less notes of glee, So thirsty of his voice is he

He just can’t re­sist it, can he? Many will feel that Chris Pack­ham has gone too far this time. Fol­low­ing on from his dis­grace­ful ac­cu­sa­tion, lev­elled against the shoot­ing fra­ter­nity in 2017, that the de­cline in the lap­wing pop­u­la­tion was due to shoot­ing (for which he later apol­o­gised), he has now caused un­told dam­age to our song­bird pop­u­la­tion by his clev­er­clogs court case, which fo­cuses on a tech­ni­cal­ity in the way li­cences are is­sued and will not, in any case, lead to a per­ma­nent ban.

Pre­vi­ously, the Gov­ern­ment is­sued a list of birds it was per­mis­si­ble to kill un­der gen­eral li­cence if they were caus­ing dam­age. Un­der the old laws, farm­ers did not have to ask per­mis­sion to kill the an­i­mals or record their deaths or the rea­son for shoot­ing them. Now, Nat­u­ral Eng­land has with­drawn all gen­eral li­cences while they “work at pace to put in place over the next few weeks al­ter­na­tive mea­sures to al­low law­ful con­trol of these bird species to con­tinue where nec­es­sary”.

The de­ci­sion could not do more to il­lus­trate the bale­ful in­flu­ence of the EU in our le­gal frame­work. The whole sys­tem of li­cens­ing is based in con­ti­nen­tal Ro­man law, which is an­ti­thet­i­cal to the pre­sump­tion in English law that you can do some­thing un­til it is specif­i­cally banned. We re­ally are in Alice Through the Look­ing Glass ter­ri­tory.

There is a pe­ti­tion for the BBC to sack Chris Pack­ham. If he sur­vives this time, then stand by for a re­volt as coun­try folk refuse to pay their li­cence fees. This will be the fi­nal straw for many who were al­ready feel­ing alien­ated by the il­lib­eral media’s broad­cast­ing of the Rousseauist agenda of Pack­ham and his ilk, which is based on dogma rather than science.

Let us hope that all those song­bird nests plun­dered by corvids this spring are not sac­ri­ficed in vain. It may be that this ex­tra­or­di­nary de­ci­sion has a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect by re­veal­ing the full in­san­ity of Pack­ham’s agenda, and the pen­du­lum now starts to swing the other way – although much will de­pend on the at­ti­tude of the BBC. Early in­di­ca­tions are that they will stand by their man – the re­port­ing of an in­ci­dent in which an irate rus­tic hung a cou­ple of dead crows on the fence of Pack­ham’s Hamp­shire es­tate seems like an at­tempt to dis­tract at­ten­tion from the lu­nacy of the ban.

We need an hon­est de­bate: one that fo­cuses on em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence, not emo­tion, in which we are al­lowed to hear the voices of those who care about the countryside be­cause they care for the countryside 24/7. It is sim­ply wrong to say that a lassez-faire at­ti­tude to our wildlife will pro­vide a bal­ance in na­ture – there are too many cats, grey squir­rels and other preda­tors let loose by man. The crow, which is om­niv­o­rous and can sur­vive on car­rion, is out of con­trol, its num­bers boosted by the food pro­vided by road kill and rub­bish tips.

There are very few apex preda­tors left in the Bri­tish countryside. Man needs to per­form that role. It is time that the BBC got it­self a new wildlife pre­sen­ter and al­lowed a dif­fer­ent mes­sage on con­ser­va­tion, be­fore it is too late for the lark.

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