Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beating the Buzzards???

I thought I would let the dust settle before I blogged about recent defra plans to find a solution between Common Buzzards Buteo buteo and Pheasants released for game shooting.

Firstly I attach a link via the raptor persecution scotland blog https://raptorpersecutionscotland.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/buzzard-control-experiment-overview.pdf

If you have read that and everyone elses views then I have no doubt you will have made up your own minds and thoughts on the prospect of managing buzzards to help aid game shooting and a non native species but below my thoughts on the topic.

The majority of pieces I have read have jumped straight to the mention of destroying buzzard nests and potentially the birds themselves but I think we need to understand it from the start. What Defra have done is become the main sponsor of a study into the effects the Common Buzzard is having on Pheasants and the shooting industry and the first word that jumped out to me is SPONSOR.

Basically this means our government are stumping up the British taxpayers money thought to be in the region of £400,000 to pay for this study to be carried out. I for one think it is wrong for a government organisation to be spending a large amount of tax payers money on 1) a commercial enterprise(s) 2) Something that has very little effect on society. Surely if the shooting fraternity were so concerned about the subject their organisations would fund this, but then maybe they did the clever thing realising how soft our government organisations are .

Secondly what effects do buzzards really have on what is largely an unnatural managed enterprise? Their is no doubting that the population of buzzards have risen dramatically in the last 20 years but lets not forget that is because man and mainly the shooting industry pushed this bird into very small pockets of Britain. If this was a celebrity we would be so proud of how well they have bounced back, but when we attach the same emotions to nature things get misunderstood. The buzzard is a survivor like any other wild animal and pheasants make up part of its food chain, can you blame it when it is thought 40million game birds are released each year. I have spoken to several game shooters and gamekeepers over the years and they tend to fall into two catergories, those who are dead against any thing other than a clients gun taking one of their birds and those who realise that predators are part of the bigger picture and if protected must be accepted.

I accept that shooting is part of our rural heritage, brings in large amounts of money and provides jobs within rural communities and can have positive effects on conservation and biodiversity but I can't accept that this allows them to decide when we can intefere with another species biodiversity. People can argue that we need to address the balance but how can that be used when 40million non-native species are released.

Now as for the management techniques that Defra have suggested I think the only one worth looking at is adding more cover for game birds, I sometimes wonder what some keepers do to protect their game legally, I know of one keeper who waits for his birds to feed for 20 or so minutes, he admits buzzards will kill his poults but he only really has an issue for the first couple of weeks then the game soon gets wise. Survival of the fittest surely and I'm sure shooting parties want the best sport meaning the fittest birds. Removal of Buzzards will never work as birds would just repopulate as the food supply will remain the same. Culling birds won't work again as the same above will happen and how many buzzards would need to be culled, surely we would be stepping back 20 years and would it stop just their, how many raptors might get persecuted by mistake?

Back in 1981 we came up with laws to protect our wildlife so should we really be bending these to suit the needs of commercial activities? Especially as this government announced they would  be the greenest to date! The only way I see this being resolved is if we respect our natural wildlife and work together to protect everyones interests! Trying to man handle nature will never work!

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