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.
"Marketing the red as a 'national treasure' and the grey as a 'pest' merely transfers the label from one innocent species to another when all along the real problem, as usual, has been human interference in nature...."
A little while ago I added my name to a petition. It calls on the British government to amend a new law that will criminalise wildlife rescuers who rehabilitate grey squirrels.
From March, under new regulations, it will be illegal to release rescued greys back into the wild - they will have to be kept in controlled captivity under strict licencing - or exterminated. The licencing criteria are not clear at this point. What is clear is that the government has labelled the grey squirrel as a pest that needs to be 'managed'.
Whatever your opinion on grey squirrels, surely intervening to help any animal in distress amounts to a simple matter of compassion. To save a life is something that most of us find an instinctively kind and correct thing to do.
So it was with dismay that I read a statement, issued yesterday by the government's environmental department DEFRA, in response to the 30,000+ people who have already signed the petition.
Cold-hearted and frosty statement
The words are so cold-hearted that they might have been written by a machine. Such a lack of compassion from the people tasked with protecting nature fills me with dismay.
I quote from their frosty response here.
"....the grey squirrel, will be managed through “eradication, population control or containment” measures."
I've come to view that oft used term 'managed' as really quite sinister. They 'manage' badgers, rabbits, geese, ravens and any number of other species too. And we see their numbers declining. One might just as well replace 'manage' entirely with 'eradicate'. One justification given for removing grey squirrels is that they are invasive and are responsible for the decline in our native reds. That doesn't really hold water. The truth is that the demise of the red squirrel is almost entirely due to human persecution and decimation of its habitat.
102,900 RED squirrels massacred by hunters
During the early part of the 20th century, gamekeepers and others viewed red squirrels as pests and a bounty was offered on their tails. In Scotland alone, between 1903 and 1946, 102,900 red squirrels were slaughtered.
Now that memories of this mass killing of red squirrels have disappeared into the murky past, our newly found concern for the survival of the species has come too late - and along with a scapegoat, the grey squirrel. Marketing the red as a 'national treasure' and the grey as a 'pest' merely transfers the label from one innocent species to another when all along the real problem, as usual, has been human interference in nature.
The new legislation will potentially give those who get their thrills from killing wild animals the green light to go and massacre squirrels again, this time greys instead of reds - with an official blessing from the government.
How can that be right?
Ancient woodlands destroyed - not by grey squirrels but by HS2
DEFRA's statement earnestly informs us that the government is deeply concerned over the future of our ancient woodlands. "Grey squirrels also cause damage to our broad-leaved and coniferous woodlands, with costs estimated at between £6 and £10 million per annum in Great Britain."
No mention though of the 50 or more ancient woodlands that the government are willfully and recklessly destroying, completely and permanently, by building the new high speed railway HS2 right through them - and at a cost of 100 billion pounds.
A bit of perspective - and honesty - is needed here I think; it actually seems that the 'problem' of squirrels destroying our woodlands is really quite insignificant compared to the damage caused to our woodlands by the government decision makers themselves.
Here's another quote from the DEFRA statement. "Invasive species, including the grey squirrel, challenge the survival of our rarest species and damage some of our most sensitive ecosystems". We already know the red squirrel's demise is primarily down to people and not grey squirrels and that the government itself is more of a threat to our woodlands than grey squirrels could ever be; but what of the heartfelt concern over the 'survival of our rarest species'? Well I might take that more seriously had it not emanated from the same government departments behind the issuing of licences to shoot red and amber listed birds, including wrens, skylarks and robins.
It all feels very contradictory doesn't it?
Reluctance to engage with concerned public
I've been campaigning to stop that government sanctioned killing of our wild birds, the petition is now at 91,000+ signatures, but regrettably I've found it difficult to engage with Natural England, the government department responsible for issuing the licences. Enquiries were initially met with silence and it took a freedom of information request to elicit a response.
I broke the news on my blog and it was quickly picked up by the national press.
Public outrage followed. And much of this was fuelled by the apparent indifference of DEFRA and Natural England who only issued a lacklustre statement after the news began to to go viral.
Similar indignation is now growing at the new legislation over grey squirrels.
DEFRA and Natural England really do need to engage more with the public of this country.
Debate is necessary and healthy.
A regrettable lack of human kindness.
With regard to our grey squirrels, well whatever DEFRA's reason for wanting to 'eradicate' this now naturalised animal, a delightful creature that the people of this country have largely taken into their hearts, it is surely nothing to do with 'protecting our countryside', 'preserving our woodlands' or 'saving our red squirrels'.
It is more to do with an agency that has been given the job of protecting our countryside but seems to have a skewed appreciation of nature and a regrettable lack of human kindness.
Yet they feel they can decide, on behalf of us all - and without our consent - which species to 'manage and eradicate' and which to protect.
At best their efforts appear erratic and insensitive. And at worst they show a total disregard for the concerns of the compassionate British public.
You can sign the petition to save Grey Squirrels HERE
The petition to stop the issuing of licences to kill rare birds is HERE
".....it is highly likely that large numbers of bats are being slaughtered by turbines offshore but nobody can collect the dead bodies at sea...."
It is a little known fact that bats can be found far out at sea. Though not much is known about their maritime adventures, we do know that some species migrate across large stretches of ocean, while others spend time at sea to find food, returning to land to roost.
Yet there has been hardly any research at all into the impact of offshore wind development on these rare creatures.
Study: "...bats were attracted to the turbines...."
A Swedish study way back in 2007 found that "working wind turbines were not avoided by passing bats. On the contrary we soon discovered that some bats were attracted by the turbines." The study, which found no less than twelve species of bat in coastal areas or offshore, pointed out that if bat collisions occur with offshore turbines (as they do on land) "this is deplorable and it is a serious matter if this mortality lowers the density or wipes out local populations."
"...a clear warning that we are not doing all we should..."
Twelve years on and, shamefully, the wind industry is still ignoring the issue. We have seen a huge increase in offshore wind development yet there has been no thorough assessment of just how many bats are being killed by these giant banks of turbines.
Last year, UK ecological consultancy company Baker Consultants, suggested that there is a shocking lack of knowledge over the effects of offshore wind development on bats. "In our experience..", they said, "it is very rare that we are asked to consider bats in our approach to pre-construction surveys or impact assessments".
The company, which took part in a Conference on Wind Energy & Wildlife Impacts, pointed out the lack of research in the field. They said this was "a clear warning that we are not doing all we should to consider the potential impacts on bats from these installations."
We can only guess at the numbers of dead bats....
With practically no data at all on bat deaths caused by offshore wind farms, we can only guess at the numbers. And from the horrifying estimates we have for bat deaths at onshore developments, we might expect that the situation at sea is equally disturbing.
For the irresponsible wind energy companies, out of sight might be out of mind, because while it is highly likely that large numbers of bats are being slaughtered by turbines offshore, nobody can collect the dead bodies at sea.
It is astonishing that the massive growth in offshore wind farms around the coasts of Britain and Europe has been permitted without any understanding of the effects this industrialisation of our seas may be having on bats, many of them rare and endangered species.
And while frenzied development of offshore wind continues unabated around our coasts, we can probably add at least twelve species of bat to the growing list of endangered wildlife that is being slaughtered by the whirling blades of this nasty and under-regulated industry.
Back in November, I reported on the horrific mass killing of Greenland Barnacle Geese on the Scottish island of Islay, under a 10 year government backed scheme, which began in 2014.
Wholesale Slaughter: 17,000+ Birds
But the wholesale slaughter, which is being overseen by Scottish Natural Heritage, could be much worse than I first thought. And it could even threaten the long term survival of the species.
I've been made aware of plans to massacre at least 17,000 more birds on the island.
The figures I've seen suggest that SNH want to keep the population of Barnacle Geese at between 28,000 and 31,000.
In the period 2016/2017, the number of Barnacle Geese on the island was estimated at around 47,000. Given that SNH want to keep numbers at around 30,000, that would suggest that they plan to exterminate 17,000 birds.
The cull has been the subject of much controversy and criticism, though SNH justify the slaughter by claiming that the birds - which are RSPB Amber listed - cause an estimated £1.5 million worth of damage to agriculture on Islay each year, while they overwinter on the island.
SNH: Cull Is A "Small Proportion" Of The Population
Scottish Natural Heritage have stated that they are allowing a 'small proportion' of the population to be killed each year but it seems that they might have given themselves carte blanche to entirely decimate the population under their 'strategy'.... it's haphazard at best.
With Islay supporting 60% of all the Greenland Barnacle Geese on the planet, the SNH 'management' scheme could put the species' survival, at least in the UK, at great risk. The birds had been in steep decline before the population bounced back during the second half of the 20th century. In 1959 there were less than 9,000 individuals recorded in an annual international census . After that low, the Barnacle Goose population did recover but estimates for 2018 suggest that the population is now at its lowest for ten years.
Clearly the population is under stress.
Clearly the cull should be halted.
SNH: Cull "Meets All Of Our International Conservation Obligations"
Migratory birds such as the Barnacle Goose are protected internationally but according to SNH, the cull is permitted.
They state: "the Strategy will maintain Greenland Barnacle Goose numbers at a level which will meet all of our international conservation obligations."
If that is the case then those 'conservation obligations' clearly need to be questioned.....
"We have reached the point.... where kindness is officially a crime...."
So Natural England have spoken (again).
2019 will be the year that they want to make criminals out of some of the most compassionate people in the country, those who rescue and rehabilitate wildlife.
No longer will wildlife rescues be permitted to ease the suffering of species which Natural England have decided are 'invasive' and therefore not worthy of compassion and kindness. In discriminating between animals, Natural England have perhaps reached an all time low - and as we know they have already sunk to some depths, such as when they gave the green light to killing native songbirds including the robin and wren.
Previously, laws were in place requiring wildlife rescues to apply for a licence to help injured and orphaned grey squirrels. Though restrictive, these licences allowed for the rehabilitation of limited numbers of the animals.
Now Natural England have sent an email to rescues advising them that their licences will not be renewed. From the end of March, any wildlife rescue or vet that is presented with an injured or orphaned grey squirrel, will, by law, be required to kill it.
"Absolutely Devastating" - Animal Aid
Jade Emery of Animal Aid said of the new rules, "To make rescuing any animal in need against the law is absurd and absolutely devastating. This new Order will do nothing but needlessly increase animal suffering and it is completely implausible that Natural England are unaware of this fact."
She called the new rule 'tyrannical' and added that "by implementing these new regulations, Natural England will be condemning these innocent animals to suffering and often death, and robbing them of any chance of rescue."
The same will apply to some other non-native 'invasive' species such as the diminutive Muntjac Deer.
Compassion Should Not Be 'Regulated' By Natural England
It shouldn't be Natural England's decision.
Wildlife belongs to nobody - and compassion should not be regulated by Natural England, an agency that clearly knows nothing about human-kindness.
It seems that we have reached the point where kindness is officially a crime.
Natalia Doran of Urban Squirrels, a London-based rescue, has started a petition which aims to stop the new regulation coming into force.
You can sign it HERE
"Where is the public fury over the deaths of hundreds of whales right here in the seas around the United Kingdom? "
The world was outraged - and rightly so - when Japan announced that it would resume commercial whaling, in the face of huge international condemnation.
But what has struck me since that news broke is the fact that we have such double standards when it comes to what we will and will not tolerate...
1000 whales dead in British waters: where are the activists and the politicians?
Where is the public fury over the deaths of around 1000 whales right here in the seas surrounding the United Kingdom? Where are the 'greens', the 'activists', the politicians?
All have been (justifiably) very vocal in condemning Japan, they claim to care about the environment and the welfare of wildlife and yet are strangely quiet over the issue of whale deaths here in the UK.
Perhaps it is because of their unwavering support for offshore wind farms, an industry which may be directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of whales, dolphins and porpoises around our coasts.
Wind turbines, which many erroneously see as the saviours of the planet, are actually damaging the environment irreversibly. As I've said many times, their manufacture, installation and operation results in massive harm to wildlife, habitat and ecosystems, whilst offering little in return.
Reckless: Labour's plan to 'increase offshore wind capacity seven-fold'
We have seen a huge, unprecedented, increase in deaths of marine mammals around the British coast in recent years, 2018 has been particularly devastating for the creatures that inhabit our seas. Yet the little research that has been published into this mass mortality has not ruled out a connection between wind farms and the catastrophic increase in whale deaths.
This week we heard the Labour party's shadow business and energy secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey promising to increase offshore wind capacity seven-fold should they come to power. The news was widely and publicly applauded by 'greens' everywhere. Can anyone be so utterly deluded or irresponsible as to announce such a plan without any thorough research having been carried out into the harm that offshore wind farms might cause to marine mammals and ecosystems?
Surrounding Britain with more vast wind farms would be completely reckless and would threaten the future survival of many species, including whales and other marine mammals, not to mention endangered sea birds.
Only the deluded and irresponsible would argue for more wind farms, surely?
We should universally condemn Japan for its terrible decision to resume commercial whaling.
But politicians and faux greens living in their own glasshouses should be wary of throwing too many stones whilst they are eagerly promoting wind energy on our doorstep.
Saving the planet is not a pick'n' mix ideology.
In the absence of proof to the contrary, we must assume that offshore wind farms might be contributing to the increase in whale deaths around British coasts. And that means we must resist plans to fill our seas with more turbines.
Only the deluded and irresponsible would argue otherwise, surely...?
"Vast arrays of massive industrial wind turbines are, to any rational mind, entirely incompatible with delicate marine ecosystems...."
The Welsh government has, some might say, gained a reputation for something of a 'gangster' approach to industrial wind farm development, riding roughshod over the land, ignoring the wishes of local people, whose lives are being adversely affected by the industrialisation of their timeless landscapes.
Take the debacle at the Hendy wind farm site at Llandegely. This is a farce of the highest order. But a farce might imply comedy - and there is nothing remotely funny about the vandalism of the wonderful Llandegely countryside.
The Hendy wind farm was strongly opposed by the local community, and the local council too rejected the plan. But the government overturned both decisions and the development is sadly now progressing. With concrete being poured into the pristine landscape, local people are utterly dismayed that their treasured countryside is being ruined forever.
But they are still fighting, determined to resist.
'Protected' Seas At Risk Of Industrial Development
Speaking of Wales, it's worth noting that the Welsh government is perhaps not even satisfied with ruining the beautiful Welsh countryside with onshore wind farms.
Ministers seems likely to pursue plans for more offshore wind farms in spite of the fact that 69% of the seas around Wales are classed as Marine Protected Areas and of international importance to wildlife. Marine Protected Areas constitute a combination of: Special Areas of Conservations (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ), Nature Conservation MPAs (NCMPA), Marine Nature Reserves (MNR), and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The reason for the existence of such designated areas is to protect the unique natural environment and delicate ecosystems that are covered by these classifications.
But a report for the Welsh Government, produced by Carbon Trust suggests that this protection may not necessarily be a major barrier to new projects, provided that Habitat and Environmental Impact Assessments can demonstrate 'no significant adverse effects'.
The problem is that such assessments tend to be led by the Crown Estate (who claim ownership of the sea bed to 12 nautical miles) and the wind farm developers themselves.
Dolphins, Whales, Turtles - All At Risk
The development of more offshore wind farms will present a significant threat to birdlife of course - we know the effects of turbine strike on birds - but there are major concerns too over their impact on marine mammals such as the Harbour Porpoise. This species is thought to be especially vulnerable to wind farm development, especially in the construction phase, and has been the subject of strict European protection laws in recent years.
Many other legally protected species are present in the waters of the Irish Sea, around the Welsh coast.
These include Bottlenose dolphin, Short-beaked common dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, Minke whale, Sturgeon, Loggerhead turtle, Green turtle, Kemp’s Ridley turtle, Hawksbill turtle and Leatherback turtle.
In order to carry out work that might affect these vulnerable creatures, it would be necessary to apply for a licence. Unfortunately for the animals, the licences are issued by Natural Resources Wales, the same body that thought it was acceptable to hand out licences to shoot some 20 endangered species of birds....
New laws that came into effect in 2017 (Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations) (CHSR) prohibit, among other offences, 'disturbing' whales, dolphins and porpoises.
I suggest that the installation of industrial scale wind farms would, without doubt, 'disturb' such animals.
Vast arrays of massive industrial wind turbines are, to any rational mind, entirely incompatible with delicate marine ecosystems.
Worldwide Problem - And Worldwide Protests
Wales currently has three offshore wind farms, and although there are no confirmed plans to further industrialise the Irish Sea around the Welsh coast, it seems likely, in the wake of the Welsh Government report, that there is an intention to develop wind farms in the area.
It would of course be wrong to single out Wales in this matter.
The UK as a whole has the dubious reputation of possessing the biggest offshore wind farms in the world. It's nothing of which to be proud. In a recent article, I put forward the theory of a possible correlation between the proliferation of wind farms around the UK and the huge number of cetacean deaths in seas around Britain in recent years. Not enough research has been carried out into the plausible and potentially catastrophic effect of wind farms on marine life and yet we find ourselves having already filled the seas with industrial turbines on a massive scale.
Ireland too is exploring the possibility of industrialising its seas.
In France, communities are fighting projects that include building large wind farms off the beautiful Atlantic coast much to the chagrin of those living on the region's beautiful islands.
And further afield, worried residents of coastal United States are fighting their own David and Goliath battles against big wind companies who want to monetize the ocean.
Wind Energy - The 'Quack Cure' Remedy For An Environmental Crisis
This voracious appetite and fashionable trend for wind energy is so misguided.
It isn't, and will never be, the solution to climate change, global warming, whatever label you'd like to place on the crisis facing this amazing world that we share with so many other forms of life.
Pursuing wind energy, as I've said many times, is adding to the chaotic damage that the human race is wreaking on our planet and is putting even more of our wildlife and its habitat at risk.
It's all bad.
Trashing the seas, killing the creatures that inhabit our oceans. Humankind has learnt nothing. How many windmills will it take before the idealists realise the gross stupidity in believing these monsters to be some miracle that is going to save our world?
It's not a solution, it is nothing more than the old remedies peddled by quack doctors that were claimed to cure all ills and yet contained nothing more than a spoonful of sugar mixed with a dash of gullibility.
It didn't work, it didn't cure the problem - and neither will wind turbines.
We have an environmental crisis and they are trying to make it better with a sugar pill. But it's a sugar pill dipped in poison - because while the wind turbines spin, they are potentially killing the oceans.
Worshipping false idols and believing them to be the saviours of the world.
It's an age old story - and still it is being proclaimed as truth.
It seems that humankind will never ever learn.
Wales: Licences Granted To Kill 100 Linnets and 19 Other Red/Amber List Species : 2448 Birds At Risk
Twenty Threatened Species On Welsh Hit List (01/17 to 09/18)
In the wake of the shocking news that both Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England have been issuing licences to shoot some of our most treasured birds, come more awful revelations, this time from Wales.
Many people have been in touch with me, lamenting the apparent decline of birds in Wales, so it is with a heavy heart that I share with you these statistics.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the body that claims to 'maintain and enhance biodiversity', has been busy issuing its own licences to kill.
Figures from a FOI request* show that in less than two years (01/17 to 09/18), 73 licences were issued covering a staggering 2,448 birds of at least 20 species.
All of these birds are on the RSPB Red and Amber lists.
Some might say that it makes NRW's slogan of 'Looking after our environment for people and nature' seem a little spurious.
NRW issued licences that permitted the killing of a diverse list of species that included Linnets, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings and Skylarks. Though a number of the individual licences ultimately resulted in no reported deaths, many more do not detail the number of birds actually killed as the figures had not yet been submitted by the time the information was collated. That in itself might make one wonder just how NRW monitors the culls once permission has been granted. They say in respect of the unknown totals "we have not received licence reports for some of the licences listed on the attached spreadsheet. This is because most of these licences are still either current or have just recently expired."
Hundreds Of Birds Confirmed Killed
But some figures are confirmed and are very worrying.
In the case of Gulls and Starlings at least, it appears that a very high number were taken while many more are likely to have been killed by the time the final figures were logged.
NRW issued licences to kill up to 617 Herring Gulls, 499 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (mostly to 'preserve public health and safety'), and a staggering 1022 Starlings (some of the allocation to 'preserve air safety' but also bizarrely to 'prevent serious damage to cattle feed').
(...killing birds because they are damaging cattle feed? Makes no sense to me)...
Another reason given as justification for culling both Starlings and various species of Gull was (bizarrely) to prevent 'serious damage to livestock' including chickens, cattle and lambs.
(How, one might ask, does a Starling carry out serious damage to a cow?)
All in all it seems that randomly allocated reasons are given as justification for issuing licences to kill some of our most threatened species.
One of the saddest statistics from the list is that of two licences to kill a total of 100 Linnets for being a threat to air safety. While we all appreciate that ensuring the safety of air traffic is essential, one has to wonder whether permitting the extermination of 100 Linnets is entirely necessary, or indeed appropriate, in order to maintain public welfare. One of the Linnet licences resulted in no reported birds being taken but the outcome of the second licence, allowing for a further 50 birds to be killed, is not confirmed.
Other permits enabled applicants to kill Curlews, Oyster-catchers, Stock Doves and Kestrels (also for 'preserving air safety').
Remember the Passenger Pigeon.....
So, there we have it. The full tally of birds is below.
ALL of these are red/amber listed species.
Only birds on the red and amber conservation lists are included, so there will be many many more birds killed under different licences which do not appear on this list, for example ravens and pigeons.
The long term survival of our struggling birds appears to be in serious doubt while these public bodies are in charge of 'protecting' our precious wildlife. Unless this changes, we will surely see many more extinctions reminiscent of the Passenger Pigeon's infamous demise during the 19th century when a population of 5 billion was reduced to zero in a hundred years because humankind found reasons to 'control' these beautiful creatures.
It seems that little has changed.
An urgent and widespread shift in attitude towards wildlife is needed.
The issuing of licences to kill threatened birds - just because they are are in conflict with human activity - needs to stop.
Otherwise, make no mistake, they will be gone. Forever.
Totals of birds permitted to be taken by NRW between 01/17 and 09/18 (bird numbers associated with each individual licence have been added together)
* I am extremely grateful to Mike Bosley for providing these statistics, the result of his Freedom of Information request to NRW.
Herring Gull 617
Lesser Black-backed Gull 499
European Starlings 1022
Great Black-Backed Gull 29
House Sparrow 16
Black Headed Gull 65
Common Gull 2
Meadow Pipit 2
Mistle Thrush 2
Song Thrush 2
In addition another licence was issued to control an unspecified number of "Wild birds"
- this licence is explained by NRW as follows:- "the number of wild birds permitted to be killed under the licence was not specified; this is due to the fact that the licence covered works along an extensive electricity line, and it was therefore not possible to specify a number. Please note that the licence did not permit the killing of Schedule 1 species."
This is worryingly vague.....
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