Given the proclaimed hallowed day has now passed, what now I ask? In the run-up to the Hen Harrier Action Days the predicted media statements from those associated with the shooting fraternity racked up in intensity. Some of this was utter drivel ( How can you predict that Hen Harriers will be the cause of the Lapwing's demise ), some , as might have been predicted, praised gamekeepers as being the saviours of virtually everything that lives outside of our towns and cities, including their profession being a vital element in the rural economy. Indeed , this much maligned sector of our Society was held by some to be the " real conservationists". I'm not sure raptor persecution statistics accord with that interpretation ! And, of course, there was that well developed technique employed of diverting attention away from the core aspects of the overall issue and blaming someone else for the perceived problem and uproar, be it DEFRA or the RSPB.
We are likely to hear much from the shooting lobby that conservationists are calling for change and yet being unwilling to co-operate. This refers largely to the Hen Harrier Recovery Action Plan, developed within the DEFRA group of combined interests, elements of which are being heavily promoted by the shooting interests within the group, but which the RSPB is currently unwilling to "sign off" as it's uneasy about some of the contents. That the shooting lobby has raised an E-petition calling for DEFRA to publish the report anyway is a somewhat desperate measure in my view, but I suspect the latter will meet sufficient bureaucratic headwinds to ensure no progress is made. All this is little more than, when you're not getting your own way, you simply shout loud and blame everybody else, the intention being to draw fire away from the real issues being examined.
Undoubtedly the main topic of conversation over dinner for some for the next few weeks, following a day's shooting, will be these "accursed conservationists who are championing Hen Harriers and what should be done about the problem". Whisky and port consumption will benefit and entrenched opposition will no doubt be agreed upon. [ rumour has it that Uncle Hubert is calling for a "Hen Harrier Harrumphing Day", but such needs to be confirmed !].
So, we can expect much more of the rhetoric, no open admissions that this sector of Society has been the sole element responsible for the demise of harriers in England and parts of Scotland, no assurances that persecution will cease and no real expressed intention of being willing to co-operate with anything that really involves a collective effort. Oh yes, there's the idea of retrieving eggs , hatching them and then releasing the youngsters in areas far away from the treasured haunts of grouse, a suggestion that I'm afraid I don't buy into as I seriously doubt it contains one shred of sincerity other than a resolve to deflect the issue. I'm prone to ask what the reaction might be if, or should it be when, one of those birds strays northwards and takes up residence on a grouse moor? Such would be bound to happen if the population was ever to achieve its potential status in England? Would attitudes have changed given the event had sprung from an initiative so vigorously promoted by the shooting lobby?
While ever the arguments range back and forth, no real progress will be made. As yet no detailed reaction has arisen, at least that I've seen, relating to the current E-petition calling for an outright ban on driven grouse shooting. That the shooting interests remain unwilling to discuss the fundamental aspects surrounding the collective subject of raptor persecution, upland management and their future acceptance of Hen Harriers as a legitimate part of out national, natural heritage, then pressure must remain in place. If you examine their outpourings then nothing really is being offered, no real concessions proposed. What they remain oblivious to is that their repeated entrenchment will eventually lead to far more stringent changes being called for, such as the abolition of upland shooting and a call being made for land reform. Maybe not in my lifetime, but much has and is changing in terms of how an ever growing, urban based part of the electorate see the countryside. Privilege and past awards for good deeds to the Monarch, resulting in great swathes of land being offered into the hands of an absolute minority, might count for nothing in future times.
But for the present we need to achieve change via our more immediately available parliamentary process!! In
turn, this means that if you haven't already signed Mark Avery's E-petition , now is the time to do so and, more importantly, to promote it far and wide. Use the link below to access the Government site
Ah! Sadly, I have to advise that my DNS server facility is not allowing direct access to the link at the present time. So, simply key in the following