SHOOTING TIMES, Readers’ Letters – 9 May.

I have decided to send a copy of the Shooting Times letter  (typed by my own hand), direct to Raptor Politics as requested rather than add it as a comment as I feel the content is important to the on going raptor debate in England. It does appear there are one set of rules being applied for some licence holders but a completely different set for others. In my view, based upon the evidence I have read, in particular what United Utilities managed to achieve on their Bowland estate, estates owners do have the legal right to insist Natural England remove licenses issued to field workers where access permission has not been obtained where licensees are in receipt of reward or payment. I have my doubts that this letter will be published by Raptor Politics however, I will wait and see.

Steve. (ex gamekeeper)

Shooting Times Readers’ Letter (9th May) unedited


I have been a professional gamekeeper for 32 years, and for much of that time I have been a Schedule 1 licence holder assisting in the monitoring of raptors on the estate where I work.

Having been aware of the raptor situation in the Forest of Bowland for some time, I would like to pick up on a couple of the points raised by Alasdair Mitchell in his recent column {Sharpshooter 18 April}.

First, Andrew Gouldstone is quoted as saying that RSPB staff and volunteers working on behalf of the hen harrier monitoring team were only licensed to work on the United Utilities estate. Mr Gouldstone conveniently fails to mention that the relevant authority, the British Trust for Ornithology, also licensed certain members to operate on surrounding estates bordering United Utilities and, indeed, much of Bowland itself. All observations they made would, of course, become available to the RSPB.

You do not stop being a “hen harrier team member” just because you cross a fence. If this occurs without the relevant landowner’s permission, it is a clear breach of licensing conditions if reward – i.e., vehicle and fuel – is given.

Secondly, it is an interesting development – probably a precedent – that an estate owner, in this case United Utilities, assisted by the RSPB and Natural England, can have licensed fieldworkers removed from its estate after they register a formal complaint of bad practice by others licensed on behalf of the RSPB. If United Utilities can do this, why can’t any other estate where licensees do not toe the line and are deemed to have rocked the boat too often?



3 comments to SHOOTING TIMES, Readers’ Letters – 9 May.

  • TerryPickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

    Steve, may I correct you on one important misunderstanding. The North West Raptor Group’s licenses used within the Forest of Bowland were withheld because several of our members reported poor field practices and irresponsibility on the part of as small number of licence holders causing embarrassment, not because we were in receipt of reward or payment. All the field work the group have undertaken during the last 45 years has been self funded.

  • che

    Did the RSPB fieldworker who took his grandson to a ground nesting peregrine site, leaving his black gloves beside the eggs before leaving the site, then lied about co-ordinating the nest visit, have permission from the Abbeystead Estate to monitor that particular peregrine site???

  • Although it cannot be proven, I believe that the constant over visiting of the nest sites by these RSPB fieldworkers is to blame for the failure of the Eagle Owls breeding efforts this year. taking family members on visits to Schedule 1 nests is disgraceful and calling to nesting birds to make them display is totally irresponsible. I think the wrong people have lost the right to monitor as it is obvious one group cared and had the courage to report bad practice so had to be shut up and the other group haven’t a clue and do just what they like with no thought for the birds.

    I think if we really knew what was going on up there we would all be even more horrified than we are now.