Now it’s Official, England’s Raptors don’t require added Protection says the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries.

[singlepic id=304 w=300 h=230 float=left] It seems that the DEFRA Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, Mr Richard Benyon MP believes  England’s birds of prey are adequately protected by existing wildlife legislation and therefore the minister feels there is no requirement to make landowners responsible for the action of their gamekeepers by the introduction of vicarious liability legislation.

It would appear all gamekeepers in England are law-abiding and pose no threat to birds of prey in England, unlike their colleagues across the English Scottish border; well that’s OK then we can all sleep soundly now as there is no need to worry any more about what the majority of gamekeepers get up to when they come across raptors on estates where they are employed. All the scientific reports must be wrong and  the gamekeepers who have been successfully prosecuted are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted!

The Minister’s response was given in reply to a question in the House of Commons on the 30th June from the Labour MP Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire) who asked the following question:

Only two weeks ago, a gamekeeper was convicted for illegally killing birds of prey in my constituency. Is it not time to think about introducing a vicarious liability offence to ensure that landowners and estate managers supervise their gamekeepers more closely and more effectively”?

Mr Benyon following the obvious lead he had been given earlier in the year by the Chief  Executive of Natural England Dr. Helen Phillips when she thanked  England’s gamekeepers for the  wonderful work they carried out looking after our countryside and providing excellent biodiversity upon England’s moorland uplands.

Mr. Benyon’s responce was almost a carbon copy of the statement made by Dr. Helen Phillips and obviously he had taken advice from the experienced leader of Natural England before delivering his reply to the Labour MP for Penistine & Stockbridge.

This is the reply the Minister gave: “There are very good laws in place to punish the illegal killing of any animal. If they are not being effectively enforced, they must be and we will take steps to make sure that happens. However, this is a good opportunity to applaud gamekeepers for the wonderful work they do in providing excellent biodiversity across our countryside.”

There is only one reply that we are able to give, these people are living in a different word and are totally prepared, or so it appears, to disregard the true realities of what is taking place on England’s Red Grouse moors. It is time now for the RSPB to question the Minister’s perception, in particular asking the Minister to justify his misleading claims that work undertaken by gamekeepers provides excellent biodiversity across our countryside, in particular upon Red Grouse moors.

The statement made by the Minister is hypocritical flying in the face of actual events taking place on England’s uplands which Natural England are either unable or unwilling to bring under control; the plight of the hen harrier is a perfect example of where existing wildlife legislation has failed to deliver undermining completely the Minister’s claims. What Mr. Benyon’s assessment clearly demonstrates, those appointed individuals responsible for protecting England’s biodiversity throughout our uplands are merely pandering to estates owners and their keepers instead of doing the job the tax payer has paid them to do.

As a consequence of the irresponsible and misleading claims made by both Dr.Helen Phillips and Mr. Richard Benyon, it is most unlikely the persecution of so-called “protected” raptors on England’s uplands will ever be brought under control, let alone stopped. It is all too obvious where both Mr. Benyon’s and Dr. Phillip’s loyalties lie, otherwise the Minister would have acted more appropriately in responce to the valid and important question the Labour MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge, South Yorkshirea asked in the House of Commons. 

We now ask all our readers, without exception, to write or e-mail the Minister and at the same time drop a second letter or e-mail to the labour MP Angela Smith (Penistone & Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire pointing out Mr. Benyon, an estate owner and member of the shooting fraternity himself, is talking nonsense and that her proposal has a lot of support, but more importantly was justified.

Just in case Mr. Benyon finds time to read Raptor Politics we would ask the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries to take time out from his busy schedule to read the attached report from Derbyshire for 2010. We can assure the Minister the situation relating to raptor persecution on 98% of  Red Grouse moors in other regions of Northern England is just as bad as the report he can read here. 

You can contact Mr. Richard Benyon using the enclosed e-mail address, come on do it now if you want a better future for England’s birds of prey.


13 comments to Now it’s Official, England’s Raptors don’t require added Protection says the Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries.

  • How about one of those E-petitions, reach 100,000 and they have to discuss it in Parliament?

  • Mike Price

    Certainly worth a shot, if someone starts it we can get it voiced all over twitter and facebook, sure to get 100,000 signed up

    • Admin

      Raptor Politics is now looking into starting an E-Petition; however it is essential that if this is going to be taken seriously by anyone, including the government, our argument will have to be more than 100%.

      If anyone has any points that they feel would help our argument, undermining what Mr. Benyon is claiming please send your suggestion via our confidential Contact Us link. In the meantime we are now looking into this issue and will add additional information as soon as possible. One other thing, it is important that only one E-Petition is initiated or it will weaken ANY chance of success.

      • Hugh

        E-petition is an excellent idea and a timely one with driven grouse shooting newly underway. I’d advocate a measured outlining of the most convincing circumstantial evidence, highlighting that the threat is to NATIVE species we should all be able to enjoy and that current deterrents and law enforcement are demonstrably inadequate. Raptor persecution should be a source of national shame.

  • Coop

    Yet again, why am I not surprised? CA stooges strike again!

  • jim thompson

    I think that Mr Benyon is quite right in one respect, the law is robust enough regarding wildlife crime in England.
    The problem as it stands is two fold.
    1)the lack of investment in wildlife crime detection by the police who appear to see raptor persecution in the same light as gamekeepers and landowners i.e. as a non-crime.
    2) The apparent unwillingness of magistrates to view raptor persecution as a “real crime” The very few raptor persecution crimes that are actually successfully prosecuted are dealt with by small fines far less than the law allows.

    Until we actually have a reasonable number of well equipped and well trained wildlife crime officers catching raptor killers and magistrates handing out large fines and imprisonment for perpetrators this disgraceful state of affairs will continue.

    • Tom Wilson

      Jim, all what you have said is correct, however it has already been pointed out that many shooting estate owners in Scotland view the killing of “protected” raptors as a victimless crime. The penalties handed down by magistrates in England seem to support this view here in England also. The one thing I would add is that gamekeepers carry out their crimes on behalf of their employers, the estate owners, but they are not taking responsibility for what their employees do at their behest. This is why England must follow the lead given by Scotland and introduce vicarious liability to ensure landowners take responsibility for the illegal actions of their employees, otherwise the cycle of killing on England’s moorlands and elsewhere will continue unabated.

      It is easy to see where Richard Benyon is coming from. As an estate owner himself he is unwilling to upset the shooting fraternity FOR OBVIOUS POLITICAL REASONS. Instead, he is simply hiding behind misguided information he has in all probability been given by Natural England, that birds of prey legislation is robust enough already, when everyone else knows this is not true. We are being let down by the politicians who appear to be running with the hare as well as the hounds.

      As an example look at the disgraceful losses of peregrine territories which occurred in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland this season. If the figures produced on this web site are to be believed, up to 15 nesting sites were destroyed this year after Natural England revoked the licenses held by the local raptor group to monitor these territories. The current situation regarding the persecution of raptors in England is a national disgrace, shameful and unacceptable despite what politicians like Richard Benyon tells us.

  • nirofo

    Who is this Richard Benyon who obviously knows little if anything about the state of our Raptors, and probably cares even less about the problems they are facing at the hands of the estate owners and their gamekeepers.

    It seems obvious that Dr. Helen Phillips of Natural England and himself care more for the welfare of the shooting estates than they do for the protection of our so-called protected birds of prey.

    Vicarious liability would have been a useful tool in the fight to put a stop to this wanton slaughter, but then the lords and masters of these 2 individuals may have more in keeping with making sure the status quo remains in their favour.


  • sh23363

    Clear then where Mr Benyon’s sympathies lie. What is particularly offensive about the reply to the parliamentary question was his gratuitous and, perhaps, patronising ‘tribute’ to gamekeepers. Why does he still need to win the favour of landowner’s and the shooting lobby? Interesting though that he felt the need to jump to the defence of gamekeepers – perhaps a case of the best form of defence is attack. The shooting lobby are good at that.

  • John Miles

    Mr Benyon if you do not know, is a very keen Red Grouse shooter. Say no more!

  • Coop

    Git! (Not you John!)

  • paul williams

    Mr Benyon may well feel the law is robust…Its the enforcement of the law that is weak.

  • Well then folks let us get this E- Petition in motion, I am back in action after being without a computer for a while and would willingly help and spread the word, as Michael says Facebook and Twitter would be good places to help bring this matter to the public eye and I am sure they would sign it, don’t forget I have over a thousand supporters on the Eagle Owl pages. There is no time for delay.