Wild Justice don’t support UK wildlife
The Parliamentary debate on grouse shooting recently concluded heavily in favour of grouse shooting. The evidence demonstrated the importance of grouse shooting for ecosystems, local economies and livelihoods. The argument against was a mosaic of opinions and non-facts avoiding the real motivation to try and ban grouse shooting. We did see hints of these motivations at times but they didn’t want to admit this was about politics not wildlife. Unfortunately for gamekeepers, the impact of Wild Justice’s efforts are affecting their day to day work in protecting UK wildlife.
Real world impact of Wild Justice on UK Wildlife
This video from The Gun Shop shows what damage the constant petitions is causing to UK wildlife. In this instance, the revision on the licenses surrounding Gull control is impacting ground nesting birds and their nests. The term “seagull” paints the image that these birds are coastal birds but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These birds are drawn to areas of high food density like cities, farmers fields and grouse moors. On the moors, these birds have access to ground nesting birds and are a short distance away from local towns to support their numbers. They’re an unfussy eater and can digest a huge number of different animals and insects. they’re also capable of hydrating from both fresh and saltwater sources.
The impact is quite clear from the video. Gulls in this number can devastate ground nesting birds in a matter of hours. The saddest part of all is that this outcome was completely predictable as soon as the licenses changes in January of 2020. The Moorland Association at the time said “By making it harder for moorland managers to undertake this vital work Natural England are actively harming the rare and endangered species they are supposed to be protecting.” And 18 months down the line we are seeing this to be true.
Wild Justice petition in court
The Countryside Alliance have a similarly disparaging view of Wild Justice and their petition. The MP’s who gave evidence in support of the petition didn’t bring substantive evidence. They came with anecdotal, circumstantial perspectives on how they think the countryside might work. The lack of knowledge about the industry was indicative of the argument against grouse shooting. Failure to understand that grouse are wild and not imported shows the lack of care these MP’s had on the topic. Whether this is a lack of care or a lack of good advisors around them is unknown but it’s not acceptable.
This process leaves many gamekeepers and local people on tenterhooks about their future. Especially at the current rate with these petitions are coming up almost twice a year. Peoples lives and futures are in the balance each year and for it to culminate in a half hearted hearing is embarrassing. This shows a complete lack of care for rural people living and working to improve UK wildlife. We encourage healthy debate but this requires bringing facts and evidence. All that Wild Justice has achieved is wasting a monumental amount of everyone’s time.
Conclusion from the commons
In the closing statements from the House, it seems that the support for these petitions is losing momentum. “In fact, there is probably less support than there was four years ago.” Wild Justice would have you believe that the support for fieldsports and grouse shooting is dwindling, this just doesn’t seem to be the case. Only 2 MP’s came to support the petition compared to the 9 who came to reject it. With the two supporting MP’s being either acting or previous shadow Environment Secretaries, their attendance was almost compulsory. It would have been great to see both MP’s take time to understand the intricacies of UK wildlife in the case of grouse moors before arguing that they shut shop.
We’ve written extensively on the benefits of grouse shooting and how gamekeepers work for the benefit of wider ecology. It’s easy to see that this work, often at the expense of private individuals is doing much more good than harm. For anyone willing to look into the benefits of fieldsports the information is easy to find. These rural communities need all the help and support that we can give them. As you’ll read in the linked article, these rare birds are succeding at the highest rates on privatly owned moors. This expense of maintaining these spaces is estimated at over 1 million pounds per week by private owners.
Wild Justice is starting to show their true colours as of late. Their objectives have nothing to do with the success of rare species but instead the end of driven shooting. The group don’t seem capable of congratulating gamekeepers when endangered birds hatch on their land while they actively dismiss any support for grouse shooting. They’d rather lazily rewild these patches of land and replace wonderful heather with woodland and shrubland. This will have dire consequences for ground nesting birds and those creatures that thrive on moorland.
The video paints a very clear picture, these petitions are having increasingly negative real world impacts. In the case of gulls on moorland, 95% are seeing increased predation by gulls and one estate has lost 90% of its plover. Without reversing the decision to protect gulls this is beyond an uphill struggle but the end of ground nesting birds on moorland. Ground nesting birds will disappear and we will have Gulls and other pests in their place. This transition will be quick, this may be irreversable in less than a decade. Those working in the most vulnerable habitats need to have access to the licenses needed to protect rare birds. This is no longer for the benefit of grouse but to avoid monocultures of Pigeon, Crows and Gulls replacing ground nesting birds.