News & Press
Predators - Those who munch for lunch12th Dec 2011
In the current issue of The Lark, the newsletter of the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT), Chairman Robin Page calls for an honest and open discussion on the impact of predation on wildlife.
He says: “The reaction to the article has been astonishing. I have been swamped with letters, emails and telephone calls of support, despite it being a taboo subject among the Conservation Establishment and parts of the media. The CRT has not had one cancelled membership – nothing but support and donations. The messages of support include two professors and an ex-Bishop. I asked members “What do you think?” They have replied emphatically and with the replies have come serious and considered criticism of the RSPB, particularly on the subjects of magpies and sparrow hawks.
With more wildlife reserves than ever before Britain is still losing wildlife at an alarming rate. One of the reasons is the increasing population of predators – foxes, mink, grey squirrels, crows, magpies, and yes, some birds of prey.
Part of the problem in trying to discuss the problem is the fact that in addition to the Disneyfication of wildlife, some conservation bodies seem to be putting marketing before conservation. They seem to think that legacies, membership renewals and the sale of Bambi-like calendars are more important than telling the truth about what is happening to the brown hare, the water vole, the lapwing, the snipe and many more vulnerable species. We want 2012 to be a time of honesty, openness and action”.
Chris Knights, farmer, award winning wildlife photographer and CRT Trustee says: “The situation is serious. There is no doubt about the fact that predator numbers are increasing and the potential damage to some species as a result is frightening. I have a fantastic number of stone curlews on my farm – one of the rarest birds in Britain. Without predator control they would vanish very quickly. We must take the threats seriously”.
CRT Trustee, reindeer herder and trained zoologist Tilly Smith says: “The threat from predators is obvious. Just a modicum of scientific knowledge suggests that there can no longer be a “natural balance” in a country like Britain where the entire landscape is man-managed. It is un-natural. In Scotland there are real issues, which some people don’t like discussing such as the impact of the pine marten on the capercaillie (a large bird of traditional pine forests in steep decline) and red squirrels. It is time for a proper, adult debate”.
Robin Page adds:“With this press release we are sending out two photographs* – one of a heron, about to swallow a lapwing chick, taken by Chris Knights, and one of a large immature gannet being attacked by a mink, taken by Scottish wildlife photographer John Anderson. Needless to say the lapwing chick became “lunch”, the gannet managed to escape by getting into the sea. The pictures are not included to shock but simply to show the reality of predation”.
*If the pictures are used pleased show the appropriate credit.
Copies of The Lark will be sent to a number of organisations in addition to this Press Release.
For additional copies please contact the CRT Office on 01223 262999.