Mark Avery appearance at The Game Fair falls flat
We’ve said many times here before that we encourage constructive discussions about shooting. Without evolution, we’d be shooting side by sides, shunned Goretex and other innovations that are now normal. As such, we’re glad that Mark Avery took the time to come to the game fair. It’s great to see Mark and Andrew Gilruth of the GWCT share a platform rather than sniping across twitter. Without time to refer back to their evidence, it pits both their conservation minds head to head.
What was clear at the time and clearer now is Mark and Wild Justice don’t have a plan other than banning grouse shooting. Their big go-to alternative points back to rewilding. The evidence supplied for rewilding is great for trees and ferns but dreadful for endangered wildlife. We wrote an in-depth piece on how wildlife depends on fieldsports for its success. Case studies like the Langholm Project and Berwyn show both sides of the fieldsports coin. Both cases show strong evidence that these ecosystems benefit from driven grouse shooting. In both instances, when gamekeepers and pest control were removed ground nesting bird numbers declined, sharply. Even the trope that gamekeepers are causing the decline of the Hen Harrier doesn’t hold true. In the case of Berwyn their numbers dropped 49% since the gamekeepers left.
Gilruth “owns” Avery
This video below shows a few segments of the conversation between Mark Avery and Andrew Gilruth. While we like the punch use of the term “owns” we think the conversation reveals what Wild Justice are lacking. Their proposition of walked up Grouse shooting and rewilding is an idealistic thought at best. Thinking that all the work would be paid for by the state is wishful thinking. If as suggested that funding goes to the RSPB then were doomed. Mark insists that the RSPB has plenty of “Good news stories” but where are they. Every post of theirs uses some for of emotion black mail to get more people to donate but no follow up figures to suggest how successful they were. Strange for a charity showing income close to 150 million pounds in 2019.
The conclusion we took away from this is fairly straight forward. Gilruth knows exactly what he’s talking about and how his knowledge applies in a practical application. On the other hand Avery has a great theoretical understanding with limited practical application. What this results in is picking a lot of flaws but with no concrete suggestions for improvements. This is immensely unhelpful especially when many of the Wild Justice arguments become over simplified without considering consequences. Shouting to ban grouse shooting and providing no alternative other than the Government can pay for it isn’t a solution. This wont provide the trickle down benefits to the local economy like driven grouse shooting does.
We want to say thank you to Mark for turning up as he would have been very aware of how his attendance would have been received. Wether it was the environment or wishful thinking Marks attempt at convincing us we were all wrong was a damp squib. Those in attendance weren’t going to be fooled by fluffy statistics or long winded narratives. Sat next to Andrew this attempt was made far worse. While Andrew led the conversation inputting facts when needed, Mark seemed happy to deflect and avoid engaging with any real conviction. We’re hoping that Mark brings a little more conviction and evidence to the discussion next year.