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Why is the RSPB SO against eagle-owls?

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Old Monday 10th August 2020, 11:26   #26
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Originally Posted by jurek View Post
I indeed think that invoking a 'discussion' what EO might do in Britain in absence of EOs is an attempt of marooning the case. And an example of prejudice against predators.

Can you find that one? Import of falconry birds is registered, so it would be easy to check whether any EO were imported. I think the scenario of a falconry EO imported from the Continent and released is highly unlikely, because EO is already relatively common and readily bred in the UK collections.
I believe this was done at the time of the sighting and sample. Also there were not as stringent controls at that time and illegal trading of wild birds perhaps occuring more frequently. As I mentioned, the escape scenario is very plausible, if not intentional release.

This statement came from an experienced representative connected to the BTO, and was similar in context to a quote from Dr. Mark Avery during his time at the RSPB..... maintaining a watching brief, so to speak. I hardly think either of these organisations have any corporate or personal prejudice against predators.
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Old Monday 10th August 2020, 14:02   #27
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I have to agree with jurek here, these birds coexist with thousands of raptors. Reintroduction should be undertaken, but not in places where there is an endangered specie, but I also wouldn't touch the Forest of Bowland eagle owls. They have as much a right to live because this was once a native species which died out 2,000 years ago, but yes they are powerful and extremely dangerous to most raptors. As with all reintroductions, it must be carefully considered where to bring them back.
Like I said, Thetford Forest may have hedgehogs but it also has tonnes of rabbits and deer which I think they are more likely to kill.
Regardless the eagle-owl is back, and it should not be culled because of prejudice, which I have seen a few times. The notion that it will kill hedgehogs is hardly a context to allow them to thrive and reintroduce them. Badgers have almost eradicated hedgehogs from Cambridge- should they be culled as well?
The prejudice beavers faced was astonishing- having harmless animals culled and still under threat today. And people seem to be too terrified of having hedgehogs killed a bit in few places than a genuinely native animal being brought back. No amount of eagle-owls will ever decimate all hedgehogs in TF, especially with so much deer and fox there. In fact, do fox eat hedgehogs? Eagle-owls might be able to solve that problem
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Old Monday 10th August 2020, 23:18   #28
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Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
. ...As with all reintroductions, it must be carefully considered where to bring them back.
Like I said, Thetford Forest may have hedgehogs but it also has tonnes of rabbits and deer which I think they are more likely to kill
... No amount of eagle-owls will ever decimate all hedgehogs in TF, especially with so much deer and fox there. In fact, do fox eat hedgehogs? Eagle-owls might be able to solve that problem
Its already been explained to you why Thetford Forest would be a bad choice for an EO ‘introduction’.

No one knows why Hedgehog populations are declining so much (but it’s less likely to do with badgers as you suggest (East Anglia has a very low density) but rather habitat fragmentation and decline of beetle populations)
Foxes have also declined by 45% from 1996-2016 and were always low in density in Norfolk anyway and this is likely due to the crash in rabbit populations. There are not ‘tonnes’ of rabbits in the Brecks, they have been decimated in recent years by a hemorrhagic fever which is now spreading to Brown Hares which could be facing potential extinction as a consequence. If Hedgehogs continue to decline at the rate they have been, they too are threatened with extinction within the next twenty years.

As far as introducing predator species to an already fragile ecosystem:

What you fail to understand about ecosystems is that there are Ecological synergies where prey and predator species have developed over historical relationships to adapt and counter-adapt to create a finely tuned balance in population dynamics.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the potential impact of the reintroduction of keystone species

https://systemsinnovation.io/ecologi...gies-articles/

You really need to do some fact checking before posting such poorly researched arguments.
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Old Tuesday 11th August 2020, 07:51   #29
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Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
Badgers have almost eradicated hedgehogs from Cambridge
I'd be interested to see your evidence for this. I see Hedgehogs regularly in Cambridge without even trying, even with their nationwide decline.
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Old Tuesday 11th August 2020, 13:47   #30
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Here. I might have jumped to an early conclusion, but badgers are decimating them pretty fast, and I haven't seen them for a long time:
http://www.nathistcam.org.uk/july-sightings-2020/
And I won't reply to the other post. That owl leaflet explains it better.
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Old Thursday 13th August 2020, 22:27   #31
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Originally Posted by Gleb Berloff View Post
Here. I might have jumped to an early conclusion, but badgers are decimating them pretty fast, and I haven't seen them for a long time:
http://www.nathistcam.org.uk/july-sightings-2020/
"Hedgehogs have been reported from Chesterton (June), where there seems to be a flourishing population, and also from Highsett (Mary). In Trumpington Mo sent me night camera pictures of both Hedgehog and Badger in her garden. Alas, one of her neighbours found three dead hedgehogs a few days later. This confirms our suspicions that these two species cannot coexist in the city."

It seems hedgehogs are flourishing in parts of Cambridge according to your reference. As for the 3 dead hedgehogs found 3 days after the badger was seen, is there any proof that a badger was even responsible?

Even if one was, that link is hardly proof of badgers decimating the hedgehog population.
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Old Thursday 13th August 2020, 23:05   #32
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It seems hedgehogs are flourishing in parts of Cambridge according to your reference. As for the 3 dead hedgehogs found 3 days after the badger was seen, is there any proof that a badger was responsible?
In fact it’s very possible they succumbed to a parasitic infection or secondary poisoning from eating slugs for example. Hedgehogs can succumb to all sorts of pathogens some of which are major causes of fatality.

https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/ani...sites-diseases

Fly Strike is very common as is Lungworm, both of which can be fatal. There are a myriad of potentially fatal bacterial infections hedgehogs can get from sharing feeding stations, or they can die from eating contaminated food or eating from human provided food sources that only provide a high fat diet such as meal worms or cat food. Some people still give them milk to which they have lactose intolerance with potentially fatal consequences. The small hedgehog showing as being ‘doomed’ looks very underweight imo (it’s rear looks pointed and this time of year, they should look nice and rounded). It is also not unusual for all the hoglets in one litter and the adults to be affected by lungworm at the same time, so although one can not rule out they died from badger attacks and for some reason were not eaten, they just as easily could have died from other causes.

There is also no evidence badger predation is the cause of overall hedgehog decline (despite some localised populations doing well)- in East Anglia where there is a low badger density, notwithstanding localised pockets of thriving populations, rural hedgehogs are still declining. https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/predators/
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 08:46   #33
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Originally Posted by Deb Burhinus View Post
There is also no evidence badger predation is the cause of overall hedgehog decline (despite some localised populations doing well)- in East Anglia where there is a low badger density, notwithstanding localised pockets of thriving populations, rural hedgehogs are still declining. https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/predators/
I don't think many people would claim that badgers are the only cause of hedgehog decline, but there's no doubt that high badger numbers will severely suppress the hedgehog population. This is especially the case in areas such as the west and south-west with large areas of pasture - badger numbers in the rural areas are high and hedgehogs are extremely scarce. Hedgehogs can survive in refuge areas such as towns and villages, but obviously there are other threats there such as road mortality and habitat fragmentation.

Hedgehog numbers have historically been a lot higher in eastern England and arable-dominated areas where badgers are much less common. I don't know if badgers have increased much in these regions but it makes sense that other factors will be causing hedgehog declines in these areas.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 09:55   #34
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I don't think many people would claim that badgers are the only cause of hedgehog decline, but there's no doubt that high badger numbers will severely suppress the hedgehog population. This is especially the case in areas such as the west and south-west with large areas of pasture - badger numbers in the rural areas are high and hedgehogs are extremely scarce. Hedgehogs can survive in refuge areas such as towns and villages, but obviously there are other threats there such as road mortality and habitat fragmentation.

Hedgehog numbers have historically been a lot higher in eastern England and arable-dominated areas where badgers are much less common. I don't know if badgers have increased much in these regions but it makes sense that other factors will be causing hedgehog declines in these areas.
I agree with this (I was responding more to the hyperbolic statement above saying Ďbadgers had decimated the hedgehog populationí ) but I would also just add that Hedgehogs will tend to avoid areas of badger density also which might account for some of the low numbers in high density areas and while populations may be suppressed locally, I donít think thereís any evidence this is the main driver of decline, nationally so we agree on that. (The pop.of badgers in E Anglia may have increased slightly in some areas but itís still largely absent from the fens and Broads)

More to the point of the thread, there would be good case if it ever came to it, not to reintroduce badgers into an area where Hedgehogs (within the context of overall national decline) are thriving and a good example of the need to evaluate the local ecosystem for such vulnerabilities of any prey species before selecting reintroduction sites for release of predator species.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 10:05   #35
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but I would also just add that Hedgehogs will tend to avoid areas of badger density also which might account for some of the low numbers in high density areas and while populations may be suppressed locally,
Suspect one way they avoid areas of high badger density is by being eaten? ... Or do they actively avoid by scent etc?
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 10:24   #36
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Or do they actively avoid by scent etc?
exactly that (also they don’t hand around - hedgehogs have a ridiculously good sense of smell so will detect the smell of badger scent (and can also leg it pretty quickly if they need to!)


https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/que...s-of-hedgehogs
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 10:40   #37
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Suspect one way they avoid areas of high badger density is by being eaten? ... Or do they actively avoid by scent etc?
Hedgehogs will actively avoid areas with high badger numbers. This can have knock on effects by reducing their ability to forage and to travel between safer areas.

This paper is worth looking at: Abundance of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in relation to the density and abundance of badgers (Meles meles)
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Furthermore, hedgehog numbers were negatively correlated with badger main sett density (an index of badger abundance). This relationship predicted that hedgehogs would be excluded from rural habitats that support more than 0.23 main setts km^-2 (0.001Ė0.72 main setts km^-2 at 95% confidence limits) and would only survive in isolated populations in suburban habitats, which act as predator-free spatial refugia. In the mid-1990s, average main sett densities in rural habitats of southern England, central and west Midlands, and Wales exceeded this predicted threshold for hedgehog occurrence (Wilson, Harris & McLaren, 1997).
Badger populations are much lower in Eastern Europe and one of the factors seems to be suppression by their own predators (wolves & lynx). Again it's a combination of direct predation and the 'landscape of fear' effect whereby badgers remain close to their setts & safe routes between them, reducing their access to food sources in unsafe areas. Plus other factors such as lower earthworm numbers in forests compared to pastures, human hunting and maybe climate. Paper here:
Badger Meles meles Spatial Structure and Diet in an Area of Low Earthworm Biomass and High Predation Risk
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 10:48   #38
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Back on the original topic, what actually is the situation with Eagle Owls and the RSPB's position?
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 11:12   #39
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If you read the paper ‘King Edward’ that I linked to in replying to the question Dan asked me, it summarise very well (and simply!) all the points you’ve just made.

I’m not sure of the RSPB’s current stance on EOs. I haven’t done any workfor them for several years (part of which involved Hedgehog conservation btw!) - the last I heard I think the thinking was it was not regarded as native sp and due to the potential predatory impact on HH, should not be allowed to recolonise from the escaped population.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 12:58   #40
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If you read the paper ĎKing Edwardí that I linked to in replying to the question Dan asked me, it summarise very well (and simply!) all the points youíve just made.
Cross-posted earlier and didn't see your reply. I'm sure I've looked at that page before although possibly it's been updated since then - there's a lot of good information on there with references to the original studies.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 13:03   #41
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Iím not sure of the RSPBís current stance on EOs. I havenít done any workfor them for several years (part of which involved Hedgehog conservation btw!) - the last I heard I think the thinking was it was not regarded as native sp and due to the potential predatory impact on HH, should not be allowed to recolonise from the escaped population.
My understanding is that there are a very small number of records (maybe only 1?) from the early Holocene at a time when the climate was broadly similar to today, but that it's unclear when & why the species died out.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 13:51   #42
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My understanding is that there are a very small number of records (maybe only 1?) from the early Holocene at a time when the climate was broadly similar to today, but that it's unclear when & why the species died out.
That’s my understanding too but I don’t speak for the RSPB. (or for BOU!)
The provenance of the EOs in the UK (and whether to cull them)and the debate on whether it was ever a native breeder has been going on for the past 15 years in my memory and became extremely passionate on both sides when the Bowland owls were filmed attacking a nesting HH (2010?)

How many breeding pairs of EOs are we really talking about? 30-40 in the whole of the UK? And how many raptors have been killed by EO? - I’ve only seen 2 EOs in the wild in the UK (that’s not twitching or actively looking) so we’re not exactly over-run with them.

The only reason our population of Hen Harriers would be so vulnerable as a breeding sp is because they keep getting bl00dy shot or poisoned so are already on the brink. Dealing once and all with that should be the the very first order of business. How fortuitous for those responsible for Hen Harrier persecution that the spotlight turns to convenient scapegoat such as the EO. Given the amount that are supposedly escaping every year I can’t help wondering anyway if their productivity in the UK as a breeding species is suppressed for genetic or ecological reasons or a simply that a significant number of escaped pets do not adapt to being in the wild.
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Old Friday 14th August 2020, 14:45   #43
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Don't think its's been explicitly mentioned on this thread (?) but a reasonable number of EOs about turn out to be or are suspected of being species/race other than Eurasian Eagle Owl. Which obviously muddies the waters/detracts.

Ta for the hedgehog replies earlier.
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Old Saturday 15th August 2020, 04:45   #44
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Don't think its's been explicitly mentioned on this thread (?) but a reasonable number of EOs about turn out to be or are suspected of being species/race other than Eurasian Eagle Owl. Which obviously muddies the waters/detracts.

Ta for the hedgehog replies earlier.
Was the recent Norfolk bird ever assigned to species? I remember discussing it then lost track.
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Old Saturday 15th August 2020, 09:44   #45
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Hen Harrier is one of the most beautiful birds to be seen on our shores, I can't take anyone that seriously who would be happy to see what remains of this beautiful raptor wiped out.

And I quite like Eagle Owls.
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Old Sunday 16th August 2020, 09:19   #46
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I know hen harriers are beautiful, but that does not mean what eats them should be destroyed.
These species coexist in the mainland, in Scotland hen harriers live alongside golden eagles which are much more powerful birds, eagle owls are not going to track down specifically hen harriers on purpose. So one owl attacked a hen harrier. Big deal- this owl is never going to wipe out all hen harriers in the UK.
However, it is a native species, and its extinction date has been determined as 2,000 years ago. For comparison the lynx vanished 1,300 years ago and the stork 604 years ago. It is definitely a native species, and the problem I think people have with it is hen harriers, though that in no way should be a reason to even limit their spread. This is one example of if something rare and beautiful is being killed people get enraged at the perpetrator which is a simple and beautiful owl which is NATIVE and actually could help deal with the massive roe deer problem. Capercaillie is almost gone as well- should we get rid of golden eagles as well? Montagu's harrier is almost gone- should we get rid of what preys on them as well?
Nothing I have seen on this thread makes me seriously think their spread should be stopped. I love the RSPB- they preach about protecting birds yet want to wipe out a native species. All because of a flappy bird which is beautiful.
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Old Sunday 16th August 2020, 09:22   #47
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Thatís my understanding too but I donít speak for the RSPB. (or for BOU!)
The provenance of the EOs in the UK (and whether to cull them)and the debate on whether it was ever a native breeder has been going on for the past 15 years in my memory and became extremely passionate on both sides when the Bowland owls were filmed attacking a nesting HH (2010?)

How many breeding pairs of EOs are we really talking about? 30-40 in the whole of the UK? And how many raptors have been killed by EO? - Iíve only seen 2 EOs in the wild in the UK (thatís not twitching or actively looking) so weíre not exactly over-run with them.

The only reason our population of Hen Harriers would be so vulnerable as a breeding sp is because they keep getting bl00dy shot or poisoned so are already on the brink. Dealing once and all with that should be the the very first order of business. How fortuitous for those responsible for Hen Harrier persecution that the spotlight turns to convenient scapegoat such as the EO. Given the amount that are supposedly escaping every year I canít help wondering anyway if their productivity in the UK as a breeding species is suppressed for genetic or ecological reasons or a simply that a significant number of escaped pets do not adapt to being in the wild.
You know I can't believe people take their anger out on hen harriers. You know I would understand eagles- but not harriers.
And I can't believe the government is sitting around doing nothing. Catch someone- give them a 10,000 dollar fine, shut their business- that will deter a lot of people. Driven grouse moors seem to be a massive problem- walked up moors not so much.
And yes you are right, it seems the RSPB now has something to blame for the hen harrier problem. Whereas hen harriers can just as easily be destroyed by goshawks or eagles.
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Old Monday 17th August 2020, 08:05   #48
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Deb Burhinus: How fortuitous for those responsible for Hen Harrier persecution that the spotlight turns to convenient scapegoat such as the EO.
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And yes you are right, it seems the RSPB now has something to blame for the hen harrier problem.
Gleb, are you seriously accusing the RSPB of Hen Harrier persecution?
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Old Monday 17th August 2020, 09:40   #49
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These species coexist in the mainland
Where there's more space and often larger numbers of HH.


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in Scotland hen harriers live alongside golden eagles which are much more powerful birds,
That's not an argument. Eagle Owls are strong enough. The question is which species is more likely to harm HH and other vulnerable native species.


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So one owl attacked a hen harrier. Big deal- this owl is never going to wipe out all hen harriers in the UK.
They routinely prey on smaller raptors, moreover at night, when the other birds are much more vulnerable.

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This is one example of if something rare and beautiful is being killed people get enraged at the perpetrator which is a simple and beautiful owl which is NATIVE and actually could help deal with the massive roe deer problem.
How are EO supposed to help with the Roedeer problem (assuming there is one)?
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Old Monday 17th August 2020, 17:16   #50
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Apart from a third hand quote from grouse shooter and RSPB arch-enemy Ian Botham, what evidence have we been given that the RSPB are anti Eagle Owls let alone want a cull?
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