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The very worst kind of conservation

15/02/2011 08:43:34

Why not distribute free cats to everyone in Britain in the hope that they stamp on the menace that is songbirds?

Kill crows to save songbirds? Ridiculous. By Powell Ettinger

February 2011. A charity called Songbird Survival (SS) has launched an appeal for £88,000 that will ‘examine the impact of corvid removal on farmland songbird productivity.' In other words, they apparently want to kill as many corvids as possible in the hope that this will boost songbird numbers.

SS claim that a healthy increase in corvid numbers in the last 40 years may be responsible for the drop in farmland songbird numbers. No matter that these corvids are native species that were heavily prosecuted by gamekeepers until WWII. Once that prosecution eased, their numbers started to grow again, and so the stats show that they have increased in number in the last 40 years. Native species will find their natural balance naturally given the chance; the clue is in the wording.

Should we cull songbirds to save our hard-pressed

How is this wildlife conservation?
It must be noted that this disgusting research project (On a par with Japanese ‘research into whale populations'.) will be carried out by the ‘Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust' who seem to be following the American model, where ‘Wildlife Service' seems to mean that they encourage as much killing of wildlife as possible. There is a clue in the ‘research flyer' put out by SS that states ‘predation has already been proved to have a serious effect on upland ground nesting birds', or grouse as many of us would call them.

SS trustees

The list of SS trustees makes interesting reading, they mostly seem to be large landowners and several have shooting interests. They do seem an unlikely group to be spearheading conservation of songbirds.

  • Lord Coke - Of Norfolk's famous Holkham Estate whose website states - The Estate employs a team of nine gamekeepers and a deerkeeper dedicated to wild game, conservation and countryside management. A predator control programme is exercised within the law, which gives all ground nesting birds and mammals, such as hares and water voles, a better chance of survival.
  • Mr Clive Patrick Sherwood, 
  • Mr Fred Valentine Ingrams, 
  • Mr John Richard Pugh,
  • Lord Michael Richard Hope - 5th Baron Rankeillour
  • Mr Robert John Middleditch, 
  • Mr David Griffith, 
  • Mr Nick Forde - Brother of Lady Leicester, whose husband owns Holkham Estate
  • Lord John Haddington, - Scottish landowner
  • Mr Hugh Van Cutsem - According to the BBC - Hugh van Cutsem is a farmer, conservationist and pro-hunt campaigner from Hilborough, Norfolk.
  • Mr Colin Strang Steel - Scottish landowner
Read more about the SS links to the shooting industry here

£88,000 waste - Then what?
In these austere times, it beggars belief that a so called conservation charity is happy to spend this amount of money on such a project. And why is SS asking the public to provide this cash? It has roughly that amount in savings according to its last published results, and a quick look at SS trustees (see below) suggests that they are not scratching around for a few bob themselves.

And what if, disgracefully, SS does manage to raise the money and show that by removing corvids, songbird numbers increase? Are they then going to ask for millions to eradicate corvids? Where does this research lead whatever the conclusion that it comes to? Is there no better use in this world for £88,000 than to kill a few magpies? And once the crows have been killed, how long before they will come back? Will SS find money every year to keep the ravens away? What a ridiculous and frightening waste - They should have their charitable status withdrawn.

Butterfly Conservation
If you follow the same logic, British butterfly numbers have dropped markedly in the last 50 years, we should be culling all those nasty songbirds that eat the poor little caterpillars. 

Corvid Survival
Let's start a new conservation charity, called Corvid Survival. We can use the same figures to show that as songbird numbers decline, corvid numbers increase, so we shall distribute free cats to everyone in Britain in the hope that they stamp on the menace that is songbirds - It would save butterflies too.

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