It may be considered by some as a token gesture, others might see it as a symbolic move in the right direction but news that the Holkham Estate in Norfolk have matched a reward offered by the RSPB for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting of a Common Buzzard in August should be applauded.
According to police, a postmortem of the bird revealed its body contained pellets from a shotgun cartridge. The exact location of where it was shot is unknown.
As long as the shooting and conservation lobbys remain at loggerheads the individuals perpetrating such crimes slip through under the radar all too often. Game estates and responsible shooting organisations need to do more to get the message over that wildlife crime is unacceptable and must end the culture of silence and secrecy and co-operate fully with the police in these matters.
Those involved in conservation need to recognise that landowners will seek to make profits from their assets and on moorland that means game shooting. The RSPB is right for example to be involved in the Langholm Moor Project where methods such as alternative feeding of Hen Harrier are being tested. Perhaps it's also time for government to recognise it has a role to play. If we want landowners and estates to live with and encourage biodiversity there will need to be compensation. To be honest I think many of us would be happy in the knowledge that money that would represent a tiny proportion of other subsidies was being used to remove any notional need to 'control' raptors and improve biodiversity in upland habitat
What all parties can do without however is narrow minded opportunists such as Robert Gray spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance who in an anything other than a conciliatory tone commented "We hope this marks a new era of the RSPB and shooting estates working together for the benefit of shooting and wildlife, but I am not holding my breath. It will be back to bashing gamekeepers and shoots when it needs to raise some more money."
Some folk just can't seem to get to grips with zeitgeist can they.