Thursday, 24 May 2012

They Shoot Pheasants Don't They?

Following on from yesterday's post it has been refreshing to see a huge response from the media, conservation organisations and hundreds of individuals via social media, all speaking with one voice that the proposals to research 'Buzzard Management' are simply wrong on several levels. The RSPB have come out strongly against the proposals (see here), the Wildlife Trusts have also issued a statement denouncing the plans and there was even a question asked in Parliament this morning on the subject.

There have been several different articles in the mainstream media ranging from the BBC to George Monbiot's take on matters in The Guardian. DEFRA have failed to respond with anything meaningful and as yet none of the shooting organisations have managed to produce a shred of evidence to support the plans despite continuing their usual bluster about pumping billions into the economy.

If you haven't already done so I would urge you to write to your MP and DEFRA condemning their proposals as well as signing the e-petition (I'll add link when the civil servants release it). We can stop this happening here in Northumberland and further afield if we act as one.

If you need any further incentive, how about this quote from the front page of Modern Gamekeeping magazine's forthcoming June edition celebrating the news and looking ahead " the research may finally open the door to lethal control of Buzzards" (see image below, I hope someone will chip in for costs when they sue me).

Let's remember, 40m non-native Pheasants released into the countryside, zero research into the impact on native flora and fauna. DEFRA propose to spend £375,000 of your money to review how to increase the profits for shoot owners protect this non-native species by trialling the capture and captivity of wild Buzzards and the destruction of nests across a huge swathe (2000-2800HA) of Northumberland. They plan to spend this money with only anecdotal evidence that there is a problem and on the basis that 75% of gamekeepers believe Buzzards take Pheasant poults. How many nests will be misidentified? How many eggs will be destroyed?


The Leicester Llama said...

"Modern Gamekeeping" - exactly the same as Victorian gamekeeping....

Pete Woodruff said...

I'll be chipping in big time if they attempt to sue you Alan, but can't believe you really think they will!

Whats 'Modern Gamekeeping'?

welchs said...

"only anecdotal evidence that there is a problem" - not only that, there is of course plenty good scientific evidence on Buzzard diet (Valkama et al review*) and specific studies on Pheasant predation - the numbers are of order 1-2% on average, exceptionally 5-10%. Similar to numbers of racing pigeons lost to Sparrowhawks...


Andrew Hodson said...

Anyone who believes that there is justification in killing raptors because they predate commercially important game birds should read Ian Newton's excellent 'A Population Ecology of Raptors'. Putting it somewhat simplistically, prey availability mainly controls predator numbers, not the other way round.

There is also an argument that better protective husbandry of young game birds is more effective than trying to destroy predators.

If the amount of food remains constant (or increases), surely getting rid of one predator just leave more food for another predator to exploit.