By Western Morning News | Posted: April 23, 2014
A call for gamekeepers to be licensed as a means of protecting birds of prey has been rejected, with the “economic and environmental benefits” of sport shooting reason enough not to restrict it.
An adult male hen harrier. The RSPB believes
the intensify management of upland areas for
grouse shooting has contributed to their decline
The petition to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which gathered 10,426 signatures, proposed licenses for gamekeeper and shoots, with each forfeiting them for breaches of conditions to include the illegal persecution of raptors.
Though the focus was primarily on upland grouse moors, managers of the Westcountry’s prime pheasant shoots will be relieved at the Governments refusal – and recognition of their contribution to the rural economy.
The RSPB says the persecution of birds of prey – nearly all of which have been protected since 1954, remains “unacceptably high”, though much progress has been made in lowland areas. Upland areas, however, remain a problem, the charity says.
John Squire Armitage, who started the petition, wrote: “Following any proven offence of persecution on the shoot concerned, i.e. illegal trapping, use of poisons, shooting or the interference with or destruction of nests, the licence would be revoked for a period of not less than two years and commercial shooting activity cease.”