The breaking news this afternoon of DEFRA’s release of three new General Licenses is welcome news indeed. I’d like to be among one of the first to thank not only DEFRA for their intervention but also the aggregated efforts of our representative shooting, farming and conservation organisations for their lobbying and advice. Not to mention the 4000 of us who submitted evidence to DEFRA on the impact of Natural England’s knee-jerk response in late May. It just shows what can be achieved when the rural and county sports communities rally together.
This afternoons announcement is particularly satisfying given it is on the same day that Wild Justice have been smugly telling anyone who would listen that they had mounted yet another legal challenge. This time to Natural England’s GL26 (for crow control). A license now consigned to the dustbin. I do hope those crowd-funding this waste of money (which would be better applied to real conservation) now question Wild Justice’s real motives. Another attack on shooting and farming. Nothing to do with real conservation efforts. If you love birds (as we all do) spend your money on the birds,
I know we’re all intelligent enough to realise that this is only another skirmish won in what will always be a drawn-out war. There will be the caveat that a formal review of the General Licenses will ensue, I’m sure. The imposed moratorium on predator control at a crucial time for wildlife leaves Wild Justice with more blood on their hands than any spilled in efforts to protect crops and conserve fauna or stock during an average Spring in the English countryside. Eggs have been plundered and fledglings plucked from their nests. Including red-listed species. Wildlife reserves have had to stop control, including the RSPB. Reserves dedicated to the preservation of threatened species, such was Wild Justice’s ‘own goal’. Lambs have been pecked to death even as they emerge from the ewe. Through all this, our community has stoically upheld the law, even when simmering with rage. Because that’s what rural and shooting folk do. Sure, we have a minimal rogue element and we must never condone their actions. Yet so does the birding community with it’s nest interference and twitching on private land.
As of a minute past midnight tonight, we can go about our business pretty much as normal. Let’s do it sensibly, legally and with the knowledge that many will be watching us. For some species, stock, and crops it’s too late this year.
As one of the few who actually received the nonsensical Personal General License I will take great pleasure in tearing it up, pouring a large glass of Rioja and raising a toast. “Until next time, Mr Packham!”
Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, June 2019