The RSPB has killed more than 8000 animals* in the name of conservation over a five year period.
1715 Crows, 1760 Foxes, 508 Fallow Deer, 160 Muntjac Deer, 2008 Red Deer, 1734 Roe Deer, 906 Sika Deer.......
RSPB "working with Natural England"
After I broke the news of the Natural England bird killing licences, many of my readers contacted the RSPB for reassurance and advice. To my surprise, and theirs, it wasn't forthcoming. The Society issued a monotone acknowledgement without offering any opinion. They said at the time "we are aware of this matter and are trying to find out further detail. The RSPB is currently in the process of working with Natural England on the licensing process to make sure it is fit for purpose."
And that was about it. No opinion, no condemnation or disapproval. I wondered why.
It didn't take long to realise that the RSPB could hardly criticise their friends at Natural England when they themselves were killing our wildlife - including birds - for, in their words, "both conservation and other reasons".
More than 8000 animals killed by RSPB in five years
The RSPB are, at least, more forthcoming with their figures - unlike Natural England who seem very unwilling to release theirs - and the statistics are shocking.
Between 2012 and 2017 the RSPB, and their contractors, killed approximately*:-
1715 Crows - (this figure includes those killed using Larsen traps, a system described by Animal Aid as 'particularly brutal'.)
508 Fallow Deer
160 Muntjac Deer
2008 Red Deer
1734 Roe Deer
906 Sika Deer
'Unrecorded' number Rabbits
Some of the numbers appear to be a little vague, even using the RSPB's own figures. In their 2015/16 report they say that 28 foxes (out of several hundred foxes they killed at the time) were exterminated 'to protect neighbours' interests' (whatever that means) but these figures appear to be omitted entirely from the following year's statistics.
They also killed an unspecified number of rabbits.
Other wildlife on the list of animals the RSPB and their contractors killed include feral goats and 'large gulls' though I couldn't find anywhere details of which species the gulls were, which suggests, worryingly, that perhaps the RSPB themselves didn't know.....
RSPB approach to conservation has made people uncomfortable...
The RSPB earnestly maintain that they will try to implement a non-lethal solution to deal with animals that they classify as 'predators'. The RSPB's Conservation Director Martin Harper states that "The RSPB’s approach to any type of predator control means that we first seek evidence of a problem, check whether there is a non-lethal solution and if so implement that. In many cases this does the job needed."
The fact that they couldn't catch a few feral goats for relocation, or find a 'non-lethal solution' to dealing with the thousands of crows and foxes that they exterminated, suggests to me that the RSPB need to take another look at their methods of 'predator control'.
It all appears to be a bit Laurel and Hardy.
The RSPB's practice of killing one species to protect another seems to have made many people uncomfortable; even among their members there has been concern, some have apparently been quitting the Society over what they see as a clumsy and unkind approach to 'conservation'.
All of which might explain why they were less than critical of Natural England over the licences to kill wild birds.
The good news is that no badgers appear on the RSPB kill list and very few squirrels.
Oh but then again, Natural England are handling those particular culls very enthusiastically....
It's only human intervention that created imbalance in our countryside.
If we don't start treating all of our remaining wildlife with compassion and respect then we will doubtless lose some of our most iconic species. Foxes, Crows, Rabbits - they are not pests, they are our natural heritage. Native or introduced, they belong to all of us and we don't necessarily want their survival decided by the RSPB, Natural England or anyone else.
* statistics have been collated from RSPB published figures. The author has attempted to reference them as accurately as possible from the source material.
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