Today I am a very happy person, wildlife minister Richard Benyon and DEFRA, yesterday listened to public opinion and stopped the planned buzzard management 'research'. Full details can be found here.
Although the top conservationists took up the mantle and did what they do very well indeed (such as here and here), I have been over-joyed by the response of us 'ordinary' people. I am very proud that I stepped up and did my bit and I extend a very big thank-you to everyone else who did the same, especially those who were very active on Twitter.
However, I was not pleased with the response of Tim Bonner from Countryside Alliance here. Mr. Bonner, I hold nothing back when I say that you do not speak for the countryside as a whole. Many people, myself included, live and work in the country and do not agree with you in any way, shape or form. I make no apologies for subjecting you and DEFRA to a 'trial by Twitter', as you put it. In fact be prepared for more of the same on other issues.
I'll leave you today with the words of Matthew Chatfield which neatly encompass my views on this whole affair. It is an excellent article, on an excellent website. Check it out here.
Now if this was a project to investigate the actual extent of physical and economic damage caused by buzzards on shooting estates, that might be fair. But it isn’t. DEFRA has skipped the task of quantifying this damage and makes the awkward leap from hearing that lots of gamekeepers believe ‘buzzards have a harmful effect upon gamebirds' right across to deciding there is ‘an urgent need to identify management techniques’. What’s missing is firstly, any weighing up of the evidence that these perceived losses are genuine or have any significant impact; and secondly, any consideration of the merits – if any – of buzzards as a native species.
It’s a modest compensation that the project also includes some analysis of the problem, with a requirement to “establish a baseline of predation of pheasant poults both inside and close to release pens differentiating, where possible, between different predators.” But this is the work that should have been done first, before the rest of the study was designed – as it could quite possibly demonstrate that there is no need for it.