Category: News

RSPB and Corvid Trapping

 A few years ago, we informed the RSPB director that we were setting up the Real Society for the Protection of Birds, aimed at exposing the RSPB’s use of Larsen traps, support of game shooting and indifference to farmed birds.  We had to get solicitors involved after being accused of “passing off”!

Sadly the RSPB which had its roots as the “Fur and Feather” group in Didsbury, Manchester in 1889 was once a protectionist group, but when it received its Royal Charter in 1904 it had to promise not to campaign against shooting sports.  Sadly, it only really promotes the ticking off of bird species, and has promoted the unnecessary killing of the non native Ruddy Duck simply because it bred with the White Headed duck in Spain and might have lead to the elimination of another native European species for birders to tick off.

One of our ACT supporters received this response from the RSPB on Larsen traps:

Whilst the RSPB is not generally opposed to their use by others as long as the basic welfare standards are up kept we would always oppose any welfare related issues from not keeping to be basic welfare standards required by law. This is an issue for the police on 101 and the local wildlife crime officer as well as the licensing authority in whichever country in the UK.

We on our own reserves would only resort to using them for site specific control to protect species of high conservation concern and do not generally view that their numbers impact on songbird numbers. Healthy numbers of songbirds would support healthy numbers of corvids with any issues with songbird numbers mostly coming from reduction in habitat and food quantity and quality. This means that if the quality of these goes down and numbers of the songbirds go down then eventually so will numbers of corvids and large predators. In a healthy system there is always fluctuation with numbers regulating themselves over time.

We would therefore though being unopposed to their general use would advised land owners to use other techniques to deter corvids from cropping areas et cetera that did not use this method. This would therefore fit with our desire for the coexistence of humans with other animals whilst accounting for other needs such as crop protection allowing both the species and other needs to coexist side by side.

Emily G. Williams, Supporter Adviser.  Please Send letters to: RSPB UK Headquarters The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL. Tel 01767 693680

Natural England’s partnership with BASC

Natural England’s partnership with BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation)

In April 2015 Natural England struck up a formal partnership deal with the BASC on the grounds of “common interest”.

Formal documents have been signed with BASC, and so it is not surprising that all submissions from  (ACT) in relation to reform of the General Licence come to nothing.

Natural England oversees the General Licence that on paper provides some protection to birds in corvid traps: such as fixed inspection times, wholesome food, water, etc.   Following our submissions a few years ago, recommendations were made by a Natural England officer for some of our suggested reforms.  However, they were never implemented and now never will be while BASC are at the driving wheel!

Our research:

Appointed in 2014 the Natural England Chairman is Andrew Sells and sits on the DEFRA board.  He donated £137,500 to the Tory pary, and was given the job by Environment Minister, Owen Patterson: the man behind the badger cull.  Mr Sells private business interests include Venture Capital projects and house building (Linden Homes).  He is also treasurer to the “Policy Exchange” which thought up the idea of biodiversity offsetting:  here you get away with destroying wildlife habitat by planting a few trees somewhere else.

Mr Sells also launched the Wildlife Habitat Trust Stamp at the 2015 Game Fair.  This is designed to extract money from the general public for what is promoted at “conservation”. However, this Trust was founded by BASC in 1986 for the sole purpose of buying land (mainly coastal marsh) for wildfowling (duck and geese shooting) purposes.

So you can see why PPS9 (Planning policy Statement 9) designed to protect habitat is effectively ignored, and why all reforms on trapping legislation and wildlife protection are now stalled.

Peer’s gamekeeper fined for killing three kestrels

A gamekeeper on one of England’s most celebrated country estates was ordered to pay fines and costs of almost £1,000 yesterday after admitting shooting and poisoning birds of prey.

A gamekeeper on one of England’s most celebrated country estates was ordered to pay fines and costs of almost £1,000 yesterday after admitting shooting and poisoning birds of prey.

Martin Joyce, a keeper on the Earl of Leicester’s estate at Holkham, Norfolk, shot two kestrels in a fit of rage when he saw them attacking young partridges. He poisoned another kestrel, magistrates at Fakenham were told.

The 3,000-acre estate at Wells-next-the-Sea was a model of agricultural improvement in the 19th century under the Earl’s ancestor, Thomas Coke.Yesterday the Earl’s heir, the present Viscount Coke, disowned Joyce’s actions, although he said the keeper would not be sacked.

Joyce was prosecuted after a walker found the poisoned kestrel dead next to a chick that had been laced with the pesticide Carbofuran. Police and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds launched an investigation and found the two dead kestrels in a bucket in Joyce’s vehicle, and a “poisoner’s kit” of chemicals, needles, syringes and bowls in outbuildings at his cottage. Joyce, 36, married with two children, was fined a total of £850 and ordered to pay £100 costs.

After the case Viscount Coke said: “We were appalled by Martin Joyce’s actions when we found out what he had done. It was illegal, against the law of the land, and against the estate’s own rules. They were certainly actions the estate did not condone. This incident has tarnished the very good reputation we have as a model of good conservation practices.

“But Mr Joyce will be keeping his job. He has been punished with a heavy fine and we don’t see it is necessary to punish him a second time. He hadn’t put a foot wrong for four years and he is totally humbled by this experience.”

Viscount Coke, a director of the estate, also appeared in the dock yesterday with his estate manager and head keeper, all facing charges relating to permitting the improper use and storage of poisons. They pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned until 2 May.

Kestrels are Britain’s commonest birds of prey – there are an estimated 50,000 pairs – but they are strictly protected.

Guy Shorrock, an RSPB investigations officer, said the illegal poisoning of birds of prey was still too common on many large estates. “We hope this case sends out a clear message to all landowners and gamekeepers, and by next year there will be tough new laws in place that will make offences like this punishable by imprisonment rather than a maximum fine of £5,000,” he said.