Personal birding at home and abroad, plus other natural history and conservation involvements.
Friday, February 18, 2022
White-tailed Eagle persecution.
Around a week ago a report was issued on Raptor Persecution's web site giving details, based in turn from a report issued by the Dorset Police and an accompanying appeal for further information. Essentially a White-tailed Eagle had been found dead in suspicious circumstances on one of the large estates in Dorset. The bird was one of those released under the Isle of Wight scheme and, sadly, joined another of its counterparts also found dead in Sussex last October. To my knowledge neither of these has yet had the routinely associated post mortem or toxicology reports placed in the public domain. Such follows a now almost regular litany of similar reports on bird of prey persecution, many of which are associated with shooting estates, although, in this case, there is nothing which has emerged which connects the estate in question with the incident. No doubt further information will be reported on in due course by the Police following their investigations. But that is when the whole scenario assumed a rather unfamiliar twist. The local Conservative MP, a Mr Chris Loder, put out public comments on his Twitter account advocating that he did not wish the Dorset Police to investigate what appears to be a criminal incident. Sadly he fell back on what has become a familiar stream of comments based on hysteria and predjudice stating that he didn't want eagles "killing our lambs or plaguing our farmers" and that he felt investigating county lines drug distribution activities were of more importance. I doubt anyone would argue against the need to carry out work on the latter, but it should not be assumed that investigating wildlife crime takes away resources from other section of the police force, a major aspect he appears to have overlooked. Wildlife Crime investigations are carried out by dedicated Wildlife Officers, a function I am sure he would support ( or would he? ). It has been reported that the wealthy owner of the estate in question has been a prominent supporter of the Tory Party and that his wife is involved with the Countryside Alliance, also that Mr Loder himself is a tenant farmer in the county. Whilst there is nothing in any reports to signal any connections with the incident, there is clearly a justification for concern to be expressed when such a clear case of suspected criminality is openly advocated by the local MP to be set aside and ignored. Whether such arises from utter naivete or other reasons is immaterial as, in my view , this is not an activity one expects from an MP. A colleague of mine recently contacted Mr Loder's office (01305 818446) and was advised that various complaints on the matter had been received from outside the constituency. Similarly the Crime Commissioner for Dorset (01202 229084) had received various contacts on the same subject. I feel the subject deserves airing more widely as there are obvious matters of principle involved given the scenario involves a serving MP. I would remind people that when the Prime Minister sought to "protect" the lobbying activities of the then serving MP, Owen Patterson, the whole sorry episode ended in tears. Here we have a serving MP openly advocating that an active police investigation into a potential criminal activity should be abandoned !! Not a responsibility I was aware MP's were invested with! Whilst it is clear Mr Loder openly opposes the release scheme on the Isle of Wight of White tailed Eagles , an open advocation that criminal activities against such birds should be, by implication, openly tolerated, encouraged and decriminalized is a step too far in my book. I have today sent an E-mail to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker's Office ( Houses of Parliament, Westminster ) drawing the matter to his attention and asking that he refer the matter on to whichever authority within the House of Commons it is that deals with such matters. I make no secret of the fact that, personally, I support conservation initiatives and worked in that sphere for many years and that I accept that the opinions and views of others should be considered equally, however, open advocation that the rule of law should be set aside in the cause of predjudice is not an initiative to be tolerated whether promoted by an MP or not! If other people feel similarly I would encourage you also to E-mail the Speaker ( email@example.com ) or,indeed, your own constituency MP. Thank you.
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