Friday, 3 June 2016

Hen Harriers © Mark Avery

Hen Harriers and our e-petition
Our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting is doing very well so I thought I'd give you an update.

The reasons for banning driven grouse shooting are far wider and deeper than just the Hen Harrier issue - but the illegal killing of Hen Harriers by grouse moor interests is a very important part of the problem, and it's one about which I feel very strongly.

On Monday, we expect the RSPB to make a mid-season statement on the Hen Harrier breeding season. There may not be very much to say for the English uplands.  Remember, there should be, according to the science and a statutory sector report, about 330 pairs of Hen Harriers nesting in England.  In recent years there have been 12, 4 and 2 pairs - let's see how many there are reported in 2016.

This is a Hen Harrier survey year and so in time we will get an update on the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland populations too. And this year is the first year of the rather meaningless Defra Hen Harrier Recovery Plan as well - let's see how much difference that is making!

In that regard it's extremely embarrassing for grouse shooters that this week the news has emerged of a man being videoed setting three poletraps on a grouse moor in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  These traps have been illegal for decades and yet, in a place where a Hen Harrier had recently been seen, these cruel and
indiscriminate traps were in use in plain view. How blatant is that?

Whilst the identity of the criminal setting the traps has not been disclosed the estate on which this offence took place is said to be owned by the van Cutsem family, close friends of the Royal Family.

It is very difficult to catch people committing wildlife crimes - they often occur in remote places where few people live and even fewer police visit. This case must not just be the tip of the iceberg, but the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Grouse shooting is not only an unsustainable land use but it is also the source of a great deal of wildlife crime and much of it takes place in National Parks which were set up to protect natural beauty, not to allow it to be destroyed for financial gain.  There is no sign that the grouse shooting industry is changing its ways - they appear completely intransigent.

To protect our wildlife and to rescue our National Parks from being a laughing stock, we need to raise our voices to get decision makers across the UK to remove the source of so much wildlife crime and to ban driven grouse shooting.

And that's where the e-petition comes in. So far, we are nowhere near half way and we already have over 39,000 signatures. We might get to the magic 100,000 signatures by 20 September and trigger a debate in the Westminster parliament which could be a turning point in how the uplands are managed and protected.

I guess you have already signed the e-petition if you agree with it so I won't ask you to do that. Instead I'll ask you for your support in two other ways.

First, please forward this email to any friends, colleagues or relatives who you think might sign it. Please help spread the word through your contacts. Thank you.

Second, if you can spare a few pounds, say the price of a pint of beer, to help promote this cause through the production of literature and the promotion of social media then please consider donating. Thank you again - every pound will help spread the word.

Many thanks, and here, to end, is another amazing Hen Harrier (both images thanks to Gordon Yates)