As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 25 April 2014

Gamekeepers are spared mandatory licences as petition to Defra fails

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.”

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