And so it is confirmed. “Bowland Betty” a female hen harrier bred in Lancashire has been shot in North Yorkshire. Its taken the pathologists four months to come out with the results but these are finally with us and have now been made public. The RSPB are suitably outraged and quite rightly so. The news has even hit the national press in the Independent and BBC.
But all this comes as no surprise to some of us. Warnings have been around for some time. Mark Avery, latterly chief conservation officer for the RSPB writes eloquently of the situation in his blog, ending with the crystal clear message that we have to be ready to start a campaign to end grouse shooting in the UK once and for all. The reason is clear. The landowners, gamekeepers and shooting community have been given every opportunity to put their house in order. But they haven’t. The government has been given notice of the need to get tough with the grouse shooters. But they haven’t (no surprise there when the minister responsible for protecting our wildlife Richard Benyon is himself a bastion of the landed classes). The RSPB have stressed the need for bio-diversity but been utterly impotent in this, perhaps their greatest challenge. As we stand on the precipice as one of our most iconic birds is blasted mercilessly out of the skies they ought to have done more. But they haven’t.
Watchers have followed hen harriers fitted with satellite trackers as they fly into the grouse shooting uplands of North Yorkshire, knowing what fate awaits the birds. Its heartbreaking, shameful and time for action.
But what exactly do we do ???????????