Yet another example of the confused priorities of this coalition government:
Defra has announced plans to capture wild buzzards and to destroy nests following lobbying from the hunting and game community. This is absolutely insane since birds of prey (all birds of prey, not just buzzards) are estimated to be responsible for the deaths of 1-2% of pheasant chicks released each year. Compared to other causes of death this is negligible.
What’s more, Defra’s purpose is to look out for the UK’s natural environment. Its second main priority is to ‘help to enhance the environment and biodiversity to improve quality of life’. I have no clue as to how capturing native buzzards, to protect pheasants released for sport, amounts to protecting the natural environment.
As rightly pointed out by others, spending £400,000 of taxpayers’ money on this scheme is crazy. The hen harrier, for example, is on the brink of extinction as a breeding species in the UK, thanks in part to persecution. Why is Defra placing the interests of the shooting community above those of British wildlife and wildlife-lovers? This looks very much like another case of a minority group capturing power within government.
Here’s a petition to have this decision reversed.
There’s more information on the reasons why this is such a bad decision, and why it’s completely contradicted by the science, elsewhere:
Here’s an RSPB press release responding to the news, and a blog by RSPB Director of Conservation, Martin Harper. Here’ an excellent George Monbiot piece on the subject, and a blog by Mark Avery, former Director of Conservation at the RSPB.