Countryside Alliance Campaigns Director Tim Bonner writes: RSPB Director of Conservation Martin Harper was probably surprised by the reaction to the blog he published last week on the RSPB’s position on shooting and the proven contribution shooting makes to biodiversity (we are quoted in a Telegraph piece on this story here). After all it was nothing that he, and his predecessors had not said many times before, although they are sentiments that the RSPB has sometimes been keener to express to shooting audiences than to the wider public.
The original blog seems to have been at least in part a response to criticism of the RSPB’s increasingly close relationship to extreme and illogical animal rights organisations like the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) and it was those same organisations which chose to turn on the RSPB in the national press when Martin Harper repeated the organisations ‘neutral’ policy on shooting.
He has since attempted to clarify his position, but that is unlikely to pacify the lunatic fringe. The unkind might suggest that you pay the consequences for supping with the devil, but that would be neither fair or productive. The fact is that the Alliance, like our partner organisations, is fully supportive of everything the RSPB seeks to achieve. Our only disagreements are over process and priorities. We do not, for instance, disagree for a moment about the need to eliminate raptor persecution. We just sometimes diverge about how best to achieve that.
The crucial thing for us all to remember is that a few shrill voices at the extremes of a debate do not represent public opinion. The RSPB represents over a million people who care deeply about nature. Working with the farmers, gamekeepers and land managers who are directly involved in practical countryside management must be the best way to achieve its aims.
Follow Tim on Twitter @CA_TimB