With admirable synchronisation the RSPB has today taken up a prominent stance against raptor persecution, particularly Hen Harriers following the feature in The Times by Simon Barnes on Saturday. With various Blog entries, coupled with a major press release, a platform has now been created upon which a serious debate can ensue. If such is also coupled with a concerted marshalling of membership and public opinion to bring significant pressure to bear on a Government which, hitherto, has ignored the problem, there is an opportunity to put impetus behind an issue which is both a concern and a national disgrace.. In the next few days it will be possible to sift through all the reactions and ideas which come forward and present a summarised commentary , which I'll endeavour to do.
RSPB has called upon DEFRA and Natural England to initiate a fully funded Recovery Plan to assist the recovery of the Hen Harrier in England, besides an appeal that shooting interests should adhere to the requirements of the law. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with the need and approach, I suspect there will be the usual excuses trotted out about the need for austerity measures and little will emerge other than a series of platitudes. It is precisely because of this potential reaction that we all now need to " muster behind the clarion call" and lend the weight of our collective criticisms and demands to what is proposed.
Additional to this will be the difficulty of sustaining such a campaign, but, again, this is where we can all help and in a variety of ways. For those on the periphery of involvement, it is certainly worthwhile reading the official Press Release put out by Grahame Madge (RSPB ) and the Blog entry put out by Martin Harper ( Director of Conservation, RSPB ) on the subject. We all need to arrive at a balanced view on where we stand, and what we can do, so that we are better equipped to help. This is not a problem that will be resolved overnight and all of us need to determine the opportunities within which we can assist.........letters to our Elected Representatives, the way we vote, communication of the problem to others. Retiring and becoming an eco-warrior is not a sin, believe me, and letter writing is much less dangerous than climbing trees anyway!! It will all help in the end.
And talking of "the end", we have to treat this as the beginning of the end, but appreciate the process may be elongated. Undoubtedly there will be some for which anything other than an overnight solution will be unsatisfactory and provide an opportunity for criticism. Such likely jaundiced, ill considered views should simply be ignored in my book as arising from a disaffected minority with no real influence and no capacity to offer courtesy or the recognition of the efforts of others. The seeking of self aggrandisement makes a poor companion to humility! In this context, given previous criticisms, I would point to the clear call today from Martin Harper addressed to all readers of his Blog, be they members of the RSPB or not, to sign the Vicarious Liability petition!!!
This is a day on which we should all pledge unconditional support to what is proposed, to keep ourselves abreast of developments and to act when called upon.. This is a "one stop show" ( is that the right expression? ), but something that must succeed. It is an opportunity to seek out a solution to a problem, in tandem with other interests, and an exercise which must succeed if we are to maintain our wildlife heritage.
One feels the spirit of Didsbury is alive and well ( for those to whom this means nothing, simply look at RSPB's humble beginnings! ).