Conservation Bodies Welcome Minister’s U-turn
31 May 2012 | The Hawk and Owl Trust has joined a dozen other environmental bodies in calling for government pledges never to sacrifice wild birds of prey to protect game birds or other livestock.
The call follows a successful campaign, championed by the Trust, to reverse government plans to allow buzzards to be caged and their nests destroyed as part of research into alleged buzzard attacks on young pheasants. The proposals, from Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), were withdrawn on 30 May 2012.
“As organisations who care deeply about our rich and beautiful countryside and wildlife we were horrified to learn of the proposals to use tax payers’ money to imprison buzzards and destroy their nests for the purposes of protecting pheasants,“ the environmental organisations wrote.
“And of course we welcome Defra minister Richard Benyon’s decision to drop the proposed research project. But we now urge him to go one step further in order to draw a line under this issue.
“We all want to see healthy populations of birds of prey, from the buzzards that are widespread in our countryside to hen harriers which are down to just one pair in England. For this to happen, full legal protection must be maintained and action taken to stop illegal killing of these birds.
“Given the understandable strength of public feeling and lack of evidence for a problem, we are calling on Mr Benyon to confirm that no licences will be issued to kill birds of prey in order protect game birds or other livestock. Then we can all concentrate on protecting our natural environment so that our countryside is a place where people and wildlife can live side by side.”
The letter was signed by the Hawk and Owl Trust and representatives of RSPB, the National Trust, Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, The Mammal Society, the Badger Trust, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, the Northern England Raptor Forum, Humane Society International, Butterfly Conservation and The British Mountaineering Council.