Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hen Harriers - another casualty of the rich
A spokesman from the RSPB was on R4 this morning telling us that these magnificent birds are in danger of going extinct in England. They were reduced to four breeding pairs last year. Having been lucky enough to see them in Islay it is bad news. Many more people should have the opportunity to see these wonderful creatures quartering the ground as they hunt for prey. 
What makes this far worse is that their reduction in numbers has not been brought about by natural forces. The decline is down to unscrupulous keepers working for shooting estates. The RSPB man kept his mouth shut on this point - why? There is a long history of persecution because Hen Harriers do take grouse chicks. Experiments have been tried on a couple of estates which offer the Harriers alternative food at bird tables near their nests. It works well. The Harriers do not take Grouse chicks.  
Many of the shooting estates manage their estates in a way that gives their clients ‘a total experience’. Accommodation, fishing and shooting are all relatively labour intensive. It is perfectly normal to pay £15,000 for a pair of shotguns. A days shooting can set you back £1500, it is not a cheap sport. 
This is probably why it is the haunt of men with willies the size of a peanut and brains to match. Whether inherited or acquired ‘through the city’ they have money to burn. To prove their manhood they slaughter lots of red grouse, which have been specially reared and protected to meet the demand. Hence the persecution of the Hen Harrier. Unseen and unknown - apart from the keeper - nests are trampled on and eggs destroyed. Why bother using poison (which some have and been caught) when a size ten welly can do the job?
These estates benefit enormously from the EU cash cow that is the CAP. One of the criteria to get these handouts is that estates are supposed to ensure the protection and preservation of endangered species. The figures speak. There should be 300+ pairs of Hen Harriers in England. There are 4.
Unless and until the estate owners end up in court for having Harriers killed, very little will change. 
Don’t hold your breath. Cameron is a friend of the landed gentry. And so are many of his chums.

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