May 282012

I have received the following and been asked to bring this to your attention. Shocking news indeed and I am sure you will wish to make your objections known

Jeffrey Kirk

From RSPB South East Regional Office

We would really appreciate a few more moments of your time to email DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon MP, ( to tell him what you think about the shocking announcement by DEFRA to allow the destruction of buzzard nests and to permit buzzards to be taken into captivity to remove them from shooting estates.  Please ask your friends, family, colleagues, local group members to do the same!

Tell him what you think about illegal, scientifically-illiterate and unethical trial.  Ask him what scientific evidence was used to justify the proposal and whether there was any consultation on the issue, and if there was, which organisations were consulted?

Please also email/write to your MP and ask them to raise the issue with Richard Benyon. Good points to raise are:

  • Predation by buzzards is a relatively small cause of loss of pheasants
  • Buzzards are a native and recovering species, while pheasants are a non-native gamebird
  • The good that £400,000 could do for species of highest conservation concern, such as the hen harrier (ie, rather than paying for this ‘trial’)

If you ‘tweet’, are active on facebook or have your own blog, please spread this message asking your friends to do the same.

For more details, see Martin Harper’s (RSPB Conservation Director) blog written today, also a full RSPB media release below.

Thank you VERY much in advance

Jenny Sweet
Volunteering Development Officer

Media Release

RSPB ‘STUNNED’ BY DEFRA ANNOUNCEMENT TO ‘imprison’ BUZZARDS near shooting estates


The RSPB in the South East is stunned by Defra’s announcement to allow the destruction of buzzard nests and to permit buzzards to be taken into captivity to remove them from shooting estates. The Society believes this intervention against one of England’s best-loved birds of prey will be no more than a costly and unnecessary exercise.


The move by Defra followed lobbying by the pheasant shooting industry. Buzzards usually scavenge on animals which have already died, but they will sometimes take young pheasants which are released for sports shooting.


The buzzard was eradicated from large swathes of Britain following decades of persecution. Legal protection and a general warming of attitudes towards buzzards and other birds of prey on the part of many land managers, led to buzzards recovering across the UK: a fantastic conservation success story.


Martin Harper, is the RSPB’s conservation director. Criticising Defra’s proposal, he said: “We are shocked by Defra’s plans to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions. Buzzards play a minor role in pheasant losses, compared with other factors like collisions with vehicles.


“There are options for addressing the relatively small number of pheasant poults lost to buzzards. Destroying nests is completely unjustified and catching and removing buzzards is unlikely to reduce predation levels, as another buzzard will quickly take its place.


“Both techniques would be illegal under current wildlife laws, and I think most people will agree with us that reaching for primitive measures, such as imprisoning adults or destroying nests, when wildlife and economic interests collide is totally unacceptable. ”


Pheasants are not native to the UK. Around 40 million birds are released every year for shooting.  The impacts of this practice on wildlife have been poorly documented, but serious questions have been raised about the impact such a large injection of non-native birds might have on our countryside.


Buzzards will take young pheasants from rearing pens, given the opportunity, but the RSPB believes the issue can be managed without destroying nests or moving buzzards. Measures include providing more cover for young pheasants in release pens, visual deterrents to discourage birds of prey and providing alternative food sources.


Mr Harper added: “At a time when funding for vital conservation work is so tight, and with another bird of prey, the hen harrier, facing extinction as a breeding bird in England, I can think of better ways of spending £400,000 of public funds. This money could work harder for wildlife, and I hope the Minister will therefore put a stop to this project.”


Speaking about the threat to buzzards in the South East, the RSPB’s Samantha Stokes said; “Although the sight of buzzards is becoming increasingly commonplace across the south east, we know that people still get a thrill from seeing them. A walk along the beautiful South Downs can become extra special on hearing the ‘mewing’ calls of a buzzard and seeing them soaring overhead.


“They are wonderful birds and we want to keep it that way, we will do our utmost to ensure buzzards are properly protected.”


A spokesman for the The Hawk and Owl Trust, said: “We are totally against persecution of any birds of prey, and destroying the nests of buzzards is tantamount to this. We believe that alternatives should always be sought to lethal control where the commercial interests of humans come into conflict with birds of prey.”


Editor’s notes:

1)   An independent study carried out by ADAS (an independent consultant), commissioned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, found that on average, 1-2% of pheasant poults released were taken by birds of prey. It found 45% of poults released were shot, with the remainder dying as a result of other factors, such as road collision and disease, or surviving to join the feral population. The study therefore concluded that losses to birds of prey were negligible compared to other much greater causes of loss. It found the financial cost of “average” bird of prey predation to a shoot releasing 1,000 poults per year, would be just £30.

2)   According to a 2004 report by the Public and Corporate Economic Consultants (PACEC) The Economic and Environmental Impact of Sporting Shooting, more than 40 million non-native gamebirds are released into the UK each year. In 2009, over 37 million pheasant and 13.8 million partridges were registered on Defra’s Great Britain poultry register.

 Posted by on 28 May 2012 at 10:54 am