Saturday, 6 May 2017

How Much Evidence Will It Take?

Last year, on 1st November, I attended the long awaited debate on the petition to ban driven grouse shooting.  You can read my full thoughts on that debate here.  Over 100,000 people had spoken out against the continued persecution of raptors in the uplands, but the way in which these people's concerns were dealt with was disgraceful. I know, I was there.

There are clear facts regarding hen harriers that cannot be ignored. It is illegal to poison, shoot or trap a hen harrier. They are listed on Annex 1 of the EC Birds Directive and are protected under Schedules 1 and 1A the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This means that it is an offence to kill the birds or disturb their nests.

For only 3 pairs to have bred in England last year, there are clearly dark forces at work, so you would hope that when clear evidence of this comes to light, punishment would be swift, meaningful and send a powerful message to those intent on breaking the law.

Well clearly this is not the case! Less than 8 months since the parliamentary debate mentioned earlier, another event has opened my eyes to the battle we face to get justice and protection for upland raptors. Almost 4 years ago, a man appeared to flush a hen harrier from its nest and then shoot it.  You can see that video here:

Sadly last week (yes it has taken that long) we found out that no prosecution would be carried out against these actions.

I'm not really sure what shocks me the most to be honest, the fact that we have witnessed such a vile event (hats off to the RSPB for sharing it) or the way the event has been dealt with. We know that illegal persecution takes place because the science and status of the hen harrier tells us that; but it is only occasionally that we actually see the crime in the flesh or on a recording, due to the remoteness of the locations where these crimes take place.

This video clearly shows a crime has taken place. This video shows the truth about what is happening to birds of prey. This video shows people linked to that crime and yet nothing will be done.  What sort of message is this sending out.

So something is becoming very clear to me, the people with the actual power to make a difference and stand up to the illegal activity are not going to; or worse still are they not willing to?

It is more and more important for the public NGO, yes us, to pick up the pace, pile on the pressure and question the decision making that is speeding up the rate of wildlife decline.  The problem with wildlife crime is that there is uproar from the masses when something comes to light like this, but then it all quietens down again and it is just the few hard core people determined to protect and seek justice that keep the stories and awareness going.

This one example of wildlife crime is just the tip of the iceberg.  Strong messages/punishments need to be given to show that it is not and never will be acceptable.


  1. Very well put. I was going to start a petition to force the govt into an investigation into this but because of the looming election it was not possible.

  2. I totally agree Findlay , we all know what's going on but those people whom are meant to represent us are failing miserably. Happy birding David .

  3. Spot on Findlay but I reckon the original post title of corruption sums up these even, it's heartbreaking seeing this activity being caught on video and more so that no prosecution takes place which I really find baffling.
    More and more my opinions disappear and in their place a more direct response to these individuals seem more appropriate

  4. A very well presented post, Findlay. Congratulations!
    I, personally, think that the issue is not evidence, but attitude. While there are a significant number of people in high places who believe that it is still acceptable to kill a living creature for pleasure, I don't think change will happen. I spoke to Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust on Thursday 27th April, and requested that the National Trust took the opportunity to take a stand against the outmoded and barbaric pastime of shooting on the land that they own, and the best response that she could offer was that they try to ensure that any shooting is within the law. How that equates with their stated policy on the conservation of wildlife, Lord only knows.

    Never give up - I know I don't really need to say that to you, as you're a wildlife hero.

    Thanks and best wishes - - - Richard

  5. Start a Downing Street petition