The process of competition appears to have descended on us , whether we like it or not. Brexit v. Remain, and the now ongoing Euro Championship football matches proceeding in full swing. Is it appropriate to perhaps compare the respective positions and performance of two prominent national organizations caught up in the debate relating to what is needed as far as raptor persecution is concerned and the positive steps to assist what might yet be declared as an extinct breeding population in England of Hen Harrier ?
If one was to evaluate relevance and contribution towards raptor persecution and conservation to each of the above two organizations, based on Blogs, comments and references appearing on the Web this weekend, then the clear conclusion is that the RSPB's standing is in a very parlous state. It seems to stumble on from bad to worse and one is forced to conclude that the collective position of its Council and senior management is under siege and unfit for purpose when it comes to the current debate and apparent actions being taken on Hen Harriers. There are always differing opinions , of course, but the repeated low key, cautious, "we know best public" outpourings are not what is felt to be required by many. However, it must be remembered that, standing quite independently from all this , the sterling efforts of the RSPB Investigations Section staff continue against difficult odds and, for obvious reasons, largely remain outside of the public domain.
The action by the National Trust last week in curtailing one of its shooting leases in the Peak District due to , initially, suspicious activities being witnessed on site and, secondly, the fact that there has since been an apparent lack of agreement with the tenant over the National Trust's vision for its land holding and consequent management approach , is to their credit and has brought many supportive messages of congratulation. Chief among these have been the various entries appearing on the Raptor Persecution UK web site, but from various other sources as well. Whilst it is far too early to tell, the National Trust's action might yet have a far more telling influence than the single shooting lease affected. Clearly the National Trust has appreciated the depth of concern expressed by many people at the initial incident and has acted . It is not necessarily the nature of the final decision, but the fact that the NT responded to public concerns with robust timely action.
If that approach is contrasted against that of the RSPB at present, as far as actions for Hen Harriers are concerned, then the situation is far more diffuse. A far different scenario, of course, but one lacking in any clear cut declarations, intentions, initiatives or robust resolve. After all , we are talking of the Royal Society for the PROTECTION of Birds and ,as such, the body from whom we expect a lead. I'm sure that there will be endless discussions and debates being held within the Society, but that's where it all seems to end. Seen from the outside, and I stress that, the fact that widely read Blogs ( Raptor Persecution UK, Mark Avery, North England Raptor Forum ) are all raising concerns and calling for better defined action is surely a clarion call the RSPB needs to pay heed to. If such is ignored I fear the RSPB will be side lined and lose not only support from individuals, but recognition as the body who, hitherto, has been seen as that being primarily responsible for change. Sadly it certainly doesn't appear to be earning its keep at present, although I've no doubt many of us believe it is entirely capable of doing so. Perhaps the creation, internally, of a "Task Group", with different personalities to those engaged prominently in the process so far, might bring different perspectives and approaches to the fore ?
C'mon RSPB, let's see some of the innovative actions which have secured notable conservation successes in the past brought to bear, made public and carried forward with confidence !