A gamekeeper speaks out at last.

The following words are those of a gamekeeper, not the words of Raptor Politics. We would like to thank Trapit for having the courage to speak out. His last sentence tells it all.

The beginning.

In the late nineties,as the first Langholm report was being published, I was at a local Pheasant shoot talking to the head-keeper of a moor that historically had held the record for the number of Grouse shot in a single day.Trapit, he said, why have all the birdwatchers turned against us so much? Well ***** I said,you have killed too much stuff,all over the north of England it’s got too intense.

I went on to say that if the keepers in various districts could work together,to share the burden of these winged vermin, and allow a good spread of the birds, there would not be such an outcry.However my words of wisdom carried little weight.The increased outsourcing of grouse management to well known companies,assisted by drugs to even out population fluctuations, has encouraged this situation with the promise of better returns for the considerable investment that moor owners and tenants have always made. Incidentally,I think it was in this same conversation that I gave my opinion that removing population fluctuations would only lead to problems,as it has.

The problem with my suggestion to***** was,and still is understandably,the perceptions of a keepers neighbours and the wider grouse community. The influence of the new management regimes has had some effect,probably quite profoundly,in hardening attitudes to raptors,especially harriers. However,in my opinion this was not helped by the RSPB’s rubbishing of the first report.I am not a grouse keeper,but it wound me up no end.

A well managed moor,(especially with fluctuations lessened through medication),of say a couple of thousand acres,should support a pair of harriers without too much detriment.Larger moors maybe another pair or two. Any increase could easily be dealt with and burnt on the back of the Rayburn,a marvellous invention for getting rid of evidence.If keepers all over the North employed this method as soon as birds appeared on their ground, the situation would begin to show some improvement.As long as the young were allowed to fledge from a particular moor, whatever happened afterwards should still leave birds to spread out the following springs. Some of these could even begin to take up territory on the many thousands of acres of moorland where there is no significant shooting influence,thereby assisting the process.

However,assuming that the worse has happened to the “UU three”,and it’s not lack of prey or global warming,it is clear that nobody is yet willing to risk the ridicule and ostracisation of their fellow professionals,or more importantly landowners tenants and the society they move in.

I will try to defend,and promote the benefits of shooting and gamekeepers to my last breath.The recent actions of individuals in Bowland,however,tempt me to say that whatever the sport of grouse shooting has coming to it, you deserve it many times over .

Trapit.

 

Editors Note: Of the 18 historic peregrine territories that existed throughout the Forest of Bowland  in 2010, this year at 3 sites occupied in April the adult falcons disappeared, only 2 sites remain active.

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