On the 18th May, I put an entry on this site entitled "We need a rethink, and rapidly". Some of the reactions emerging relating to the withdrawal of the Buzzard control proposals are jaundiced at best and endorse the view, at least in my opinion, that the problem is greater than simply Buzzards predating the odd Pheasant poult. There's a real attitude problem out there reflecting extensive self interest and a worrying element in terns of where such people actually see themselves within our democracy. Some of the views are equally as vitriolic against "preservationists" , so I suppose I'd better watch out!
I notice James Marchington, columnist on shooting matters , has put out a request on his Facebook account asking for reports of Buzzard predation on Pheasants, as he intends writing an article on the matter. As usual anecdotal reports of Buzzards taking Mallard, Woodpigeon, and concerns about chickens are emerging amongst more focussed feedback on the subject out of which I am sure JM will eventually produce something positive. But is this not a part of the problem, and a problem that is much wider than appreciated by those responding to the above request. All the clamour for change is based on impassioned claims from those with commercial interests in the subject. No mention, or even recognition, of biodiversity or similar. Errmm , a bit self serving one suggests! A very telling comment appears on the Raptor Politics web site today under the entry about "Bird brained Benyon". Issued by a lady called Kitt Jones, who obviously manages a nature reserve, she makes mention of the pressure experienced from Pheasants coming into the reserve from an adjacent shoot and the depletion of the area's biodiversity. OK, subjective observations again , but a pointer to a parallel problem that is receiving insufficient emphasis in this debate. The tippling out of millions of Pheasants year after year is hardly likely to be a bonus as far as the wider countryside is concerned , a countryside habitat that has to support these birds. Whilst an appreciable proportion of Pheasants may be shot each season, a sufficient number remain that may not be as welcome a sight to many people as to those within the shooting fraternity. It's not good enough to view lots of "Pheasant presence" as the potential for a good autumn's recreation, there are accompanying downsides that it would be nice to see recognised rather than conveniently ignored.
A key element within recent debate appears to be the claimed pressure on commercial stocks of Pheasants, but equally, a similar pressure on our wider wildlife heritage is also apparent. One hopes that this aspect will be considered equally as seriously within whatever revised proposals DEFRA eventually comes up with. But may I put in a plea? I believe "My" wildlife heritage, to which surely I'm entitled to make a claim, is being placed under assault. What will be done in that respect? Ideas so far appear to suggest research will look at pressure on Pheasants in and around shoots. Can we have an improved approach please that better frames the preferences of the wider electorate ? It perhaps suggests Buzzards might have been doing a good job after all!!