• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Ian Botham story from the Daily Telegrapgh (1 Viewer)

pratincol

Well-known member
A copy of the story from today's website

Sir Ian Botham has reopened a row with one of Britain’s leading wildlife charities, accusing it of being "dishonest" and "milking" the disappearance of a rare bird of prey.

The former England cricketer said the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) had “milked it” when a bird in Scotland, believed to have been a golden eagle, went missing in March, and then “swept it under the carpet” when a landowner claimed to have spotted the bird a month later.

The RSPB maintains the eagle is still missing and accused Sir Ian, an advocate of grouse shooting, of “PR spin”.

The case bears similarities to an incident in February when the charity revealed that a rare hen harrier, also thought to have been hunted illegally, had been seen alive and well after going missing for 10 months.





Asked what changes he would make to the organisation in an interview with the Shooting Gazette, Sir Ian said: "I think they [the RSPB] need to be more honest.

"We had the story not long ago about a peregrine falcon being shot in Scotland and later being spotted alive. The RSPB made headlines and milked it when the bird disappeared but when it reappeared they swept it under the carpet. It shouldn't work that way."

He added that he would like to see some "young blood" and for the organisation to bring someone in "with a different outlook". Grouse shooting is blamed by some conservationists for the illegal persecution of birds of prey.

The RSPB says the sport is driving some rare birds to extinction. But research commissioned by the shooting industry this year and carried out by the universities of Newcastle and Durham found many birds were flourishing on moorland estates.


Bird 338, a golden eagle nesting at the North Glenbuchat Estate in Aberdeenshire, was pronounced “missing, presumed murdered” last March when a satellite tag it was fitted with for conservation purposes stopped emitting a signal.

The RSPB claimed it was the latest in a series of similar incidents at the estate and launched an inquiry with Police Scotland.

But a month later the estate released video footage claiming to show the bird alive. It accused the charity of making “reckless and defamatory” allegations and threatened legal action, but no case was brought.

Sir Ian, who has criticised the RSPB’s calls for tougher regulation for grouse shoots, said the shooting industry played a vital role in moorland wildlife protection.

“Many people seem to think that moors and all that happens on them would still exist if gamekeepers and shoots didn’t look after them. Wake up,” he told the magazine. “
If you want to see what happens to a moor that is not managed have a look at a couple of the RSPB [managed] ones because they’re dead.”

In February, the RSPB sparked a separate row with grouse shooters and landowners when it emerged that a hen harrier, also presumed dead, had been spotted about 30 miles from its original nesting site in Lancashire.

The bird was also wearing a tracking tag which was thought to have stopped working. Responding to Sir Ian’s comments, the RSPB cast doubts over the North Gelnbuchat Estate's video evidence and said Bird 338 remained "missing in suspicious circumstances".

Jeff Knott, the charity’s head of nature policy, added: "Ian Botham is entitled to his opinions but the comments he has made contain inaccuracies. He's playing to a particular gallery, which isn't doing the shooting community any favours. We need constructive dialogue leading to meaningful change."
 

ChrisJB

Well-known member
Ian Botham just sounds more desperate and ridiculous every time he contributes to this debate. He just strikes me as a bit thick.

Regards, Chris
 

Egrets Ivadafew

Well-known member
Ah the all too familiar twittering of the opinionated celebrity, those (thankfully) few who assume that fame makes what they say infinitely more important than what we say. Who would you rather believe, an organised group of environmentally astute experts dedicated to saving our ever dwindling flocks of birds, or a man who used to be quite good at hitting a ball with a piece of wood.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
...... “Many people seem to think that moors and all that happens on them would still exist if gamekeepers and shoots didn’t look after them. Wake up,” he told the magazine. “
If you want to see what happens to a moor that is not managed have a look at a couple of the RSPB [managed] ones because they’re dead.” .....
Could somebody please explain to me the nature of these environments, exactly what actions gamekeepers and shooters take to manage them - how they are of benefit or otherwise, and what natural (or other) processes take place in the absence of these actions, or different ones. How would healthy ones differ from dead ones, and how is this measured? Is it steady state over time or subject to a range of influences and what would they be and the timescales they operate over? Thanks.



Chosun :gh:
 

coaltit

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Ah, Full Tosser out for a duck again...
I always prefered him as a cricketer thou usually always a colourful character Where the media was concerned, He,s better in his own field where the
Wickets are than in a field he,s out of his depth in.
 

John Cantelo

Well-known member
Could somebody please explain to me the nature of these environments, exactly what actions gamekeepers and shooters take to manage them - how they are of benefit or otherwise, and what natural (or other) processes take place in the absence of these actions, or different ones. How would healthy ones differ from dead ones, and how is this measured? Is it steady state over time or subject to a range of influences and what would they be and the timescales they operate over? Thanks.



Chosun :gh:

That's a very big ask with limited space Chosun!

Essentially, the habitat concerned is upland heather moorland that run along the spine of England and across Scotland. Here Red Grouse are found naturally but a combination of regular burning, drainage, rigorous legal (stoats, weasels, etc) and illegal (Hen Harriers, etc) 'control' and use of medicated grit to suppress disease has created an artificially high population of Red Grouse. This, it is claimed, is needed to provide sufficient 'surplus birds' to make money. Burning controversial both for pollution and creating a monoculture (also damaging sites of special scientific interest). Drainage has also damaged SSSIs and has been implicated in causing an increase in serious flooding downstream. Pro-shooting lobby claims the legal predation control also favours breeding waders (a claim somewhat damaged by over-enthusiastic drainage). The systematic persecution of protected birds (illegal traps, poisons, shooting deliberate disturbance at nest sites, etc) has been demonstrated by tagging results and is clear from population studies. As a result, more Peregrines now breed in Central London than former moorland strongholds). I'm not quite sure what you're driving at in your final few sentences but a good look at the Raptor Persecution UK website I mention elsewhere will give you plenty of leads.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
That's a very big ask with limited space Chosun!

Essentially, the habitat concerned is upland heather moorland that run along the spine of England and across Scotland. Here Red Grouse are found naturally but a combination of regular burning, drainage, rigorous legal (stoats, weasels, etc) and illegal (Hen Harriers, etc) 'control' and use of medicated grit to suppress disease has created an artificially high population of Red Grouse. This, it is claimed, is needed to provide sufficient 'surplus birds' to make money. Burning controversial both for pollution and creating a monoculture (also damaging sites of special scientific interest). Drainage has also damaged SSSIs and has been implicated in causing an increase in serious flooding downstream. Pro-shooting lobby claims the legal predation control also favours breeding waders (a claim somewhat damaged by over-enthusiastic drainage). The systematic persecution of protected birds (illegal traps, poisons, shooting deliberate disturbance at nest sites, etc) has been demonstrated by tagging results and is clear from population studies. As a result, more Peregrines now breed in Central London than former moorland strongholds). I'm not quite sure what you're driving at in your final few sentences but a good look at the Raptor Persecution UK website I mention elsewhere will give you plenty of leads.
Thanks John,

I have seen these claims by the game fraternity many times before - that without them the health of the land would not be maintained, but I am still a bit puzzled as to what exact environmental (vegetation wise) benefits they think they are, and actually do provide?

If as you say it involves draining, and burning, then this sounds the opposite of what is actually healthy and diverse. It might look neater and be easier to walk through, but poorer for it.

That's why I asked about the natural to and fro (is there a moorland - shrub/forest dance of advance and retreat naturally?), and what grazing pressures etc would naturally exist that would play a part in that? Do they still factor in (deer etc), or are they hunted/fenced out? Is natural fire a factor? Would health be measured in structural complexity terms and diversity of flora and fauna? Thanks again.



Chosun :gh:
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Chosun,

John Cantelo has answered most of your points, but I'll try and fill in some of the gaps.

It's all down to arresting natural succession at a point where dwarf shrubs maintain dominance, either by (over) grazing with sheep, maintaining an overabundant native herbivore density for deer hunting, or periodic burning to stimulate young heather shoots for grouse. Uncontrolled or natural fires are very exceptional given the high rainfall - burns on grouse moors are controlled, producing a 'striped' appearance from the air which gives a range of different ages of heather regeneration.

In the reduction or absence of these pressures, our uplands would increase cover of trees and shrubs and heather would grow much taller and bushier. Given they are located in areas of high rainfall, relatively low temperatures and acid peat soils, this wouldn't lead to a 'high forest' canopy, but would undoubtedly be more structurally complex. In terms of plant diversity some species would lose out, but then some key species (notably peat-forming Sphagnum) are losing out anyway through drainage and burning.

Some wader species which prefer shorter, more open habitats may decline - golden plover and curlew perhaps - although as has been noted the drainage doesn't help them either, many upland areas are designated as SPAs (EU Special Protection Areas) because of their breeding wader densities. Of the other species, dunlin breed on higher, wetter land which would likely retain its open character due to very poor conditions for tree growth, while Northern lapwing breed lower down, on enclosed farmland.

The maintenance of wader habitat, which is further helped by predator control (especially corvids and ground-based predators like mustelids and foxes), is the thrust of the pro-shooting argument, and IMO is the only valid point they have. Unfortunately, they have support in nature conservation circles - in Britain we place a high value on heather-dominated landscapes, a majority of our so-called National Parks have been established to 'protect' what are effectively denuded, heavily managed hillsides which we'd deride as the product of human degradation if they were anywhere else in the world.
 

King Edward

Well-known member
Very good posts by John & kb57. For a visual impression of the management and its effects, try an image search for 'muirburn'. Or put Balmoral into Google Earth and look at the hills to the north - you can see the patchwork effect of burning over a vast area (the heather is burned in rotation to remove the old, leggy bushes and stimulate fresh growth).
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top