The Shooting Times publishes an article today by Roy Green, cited as a 'gamekeeper' Roy was until recently the manager of Buccleuch Sporting the game business of The Buccleuch Estates. Read it, it is nothing short of a thinly veiled blackmail letter from a founder of the National Gamekeeper's Organisation and former employee of one of the largest landowners in Britain. The message is clear, stop telling us what we can and can't kill or we will deny you access to the land we own.
Green is openly contemptuous of the RSPB from the off writing "The likes of the RSPB overlook that this minority successfully manages
more acreage for British flora and fauna than all the conservation
bodies put together. This work is funded by the same people whose
goodwill and generosity the RSPB relies on for co-operation and access."
He neglects to define how this 'success' is measured and perhaps if he had used the word 'some' in front of British flora & fauna it would have been more accurate given the list of unwelcome predators that he and his brethren are employed to despatch.
Green returns to his theme a few paragraphs later " As an organisation, the RSPB has become too powerful and needs reminding
that, without the generosity of landowners and managers, much of what
it is paid for by the Government purse could not be achieved."
What lies at the heart of Roy's problem with the RSPB? Roy explains " Globally, practical conservation groups recognise the need and value of
predator control for the benefit of other species and the environment.
They recognise that fieldsports bring huge benefits to the social and
economic survival of many communities. Why, then, does our leading bird
charity continually oppose predator control?"
Perhaps by 'practical conservation' Roy is referring to those shooting and hunting organisations that have slipped the word conservation into their name in a bid to convince the general public that the spade is actually a fork. Yes, predator control is used in a limited way at times in conservation but in relation to sensitive species protection or eradication of non-native species not for profit!
It was not until near the end of Roy's article that I finally found some common ground " Issues such as buzzard or cormorant predation that impact on our ability
to finance countryside management should be scientifically studied and
solutions found" calls Roy. Who wouldn't agree but I'd go further and suggest that what we should be looking for are solutions that allow natural predators such as the Buzzard and Cormorant to co-exist with man's use of our natural resources rather than solutions that simply seek to remove them from the equation.
Roy does raise an interesting question though when he asks " In the way the RSPB charges us to visit its nature reserves, perhaps we
should also begin to charge the public entry fees to the countryside we
manage?" That is a possibility but I imagine a campaign to return to public ownership large tracts of land removed from common ownership and gifted to the forebears of their current owners by the nepatism and daylight robbery of some of our more corrupt Kings and Queens over the years would prove a great deal more popular with the general public at the moment.