Natural England aiding and abetting Gamekeepers once again: More Buzzards to be shot under licence

Shamefull EnglandWe are no longer surprised at the Governments commitment in helping the shooting fraternity control protected birds of prey, rather than protecting them. Once again it appears DEFRA have instructed Natural England, the Governments Wildlife Advisor, to consider granting 10 more licenses to trap and shoot ten buzzards to prevent serious damage being caused to pheasants which the landowner wished to shoot later in the year. There is little wonder there are few if any successful breeding Hen Harrier left in England when this Tory Government themselves aid a abet the legalised killing of a protected birds of prey. What logic is this?

The RSPB are concerned to learn that Natural England – the UK Government’s nature conservation agency – is considering a licence application to trap and shoot 10 buzzards to protect young pheasants. Natural England is expected to make a decision on the fate of the buzzards imminently.

Martin Harper is the RSPB’s Conservation Director. He said: “The buzzard is a fully-protected bird of prey which is only now recovering its numbers from sustained historic persecution, which saw the bird lose much of its UK population and range. Any relaxation of their current protection, coupled with ongoing persecution, could threaten local populations. Their vulnerability is a key reason why we are fighting for their protection.”


Legalised State Persecution by Licence

Last year Natural England granted licences to control buzzards at a chicken farm, and at a pheasant shoot – the first time such licences had been issued. Subsequent licence applications to kill adult buzzards at four pheasant shoots managed by the original applicant were then rejected by Natural England.

The RSPB has learnt that an application was made on 23 April to cage trap and shoot ten buzzards across four sites to prevent ‘serious damage’ to pheasant poults. The Society knows the applicant has sought licences to control buzzards in previous years.

Martin Harper added: “I am disappointed that a new licence application has been sought to control buzzards to protect gamebirds. To our knowledge, there isn’t convincing evidence to justify issuing licences for the control of buzzards and we think the application should be rejected by Natural England, especially since they rejected applications for the same activity last year.”

He added: “It’s time that wildlife licencing is conducted in a more transparent way. A test of a modern 21st century society is one that is open and tolerates birds of prey and finds ways to live in harmony with them.”

There are a variety of ways to prevent young pheasants being killed by buzzards. For example, by creating cover for the gamebirds, or by installing deterrents to keep buzzards away.

The RSPB has written to Defra calling for clear guidance to Natural England to reject all licences to control buzzards to protect gamebirds.

8 comments to Natural England aiding and abetting Gamekeepers once again: More Buzzards to be shot under licence

  • kevin moore

    So Natural England are prepared to issue licences to kill a native protected species i.e. a buzzard just to protect a non native species i.e. pheasant, there are millions of pheasants released every year,these buzzards would only make a small dent in the amount of pheasants released. I would strongly argue pheasants cause more damage than any number of buzzards!

  • Robin Waterman

    What a ridiculous story! Natural England is legally obliged to consider all licence applications made to it. Defra will not have instructed them to. They have no choice.

  • William Coles

    This is just outrageous. They want to shoot great birds of prey just to attempt to protect birds that are going to be shot anyway! Completely ridiculous that this is even being considered.

  • Dave Viles

    Are we going to shoot cars!?. 1000’s of pheasants are killed by road traffic annually. This is an outrage. Our native bird life is continually on the edge, we should cherish it. This, if allowed, would be the thin end of the wedge, I despair with mans selfishness that we can even contemplate this. We rightly point the figure at Malta etc. yet we are no better.

  • nirofo

    Natural England and DEFRA have already proved themselves as not fit for purpose and should be prosecuted under the wildlife and countryside act for even considering allowing a cull of a legally protected species of British wildlife, namely the Buzzard. There should never be any licences to cull Buzzards issued to anyone just so that a few extra Pheasant poults make it to the shoots to be blasted by shotgun for the egotistic pleasure of a minority of bloodthirsty people. Surely an average of 53 million, yes million Pheasants released into the countryside every year is enough for the gun toting wildlife destroying yobs to blast out of the sky without having to destroy our precious so-called lawfully protected Buzzards into the bargain. The audacity and selfishness of these people knows no bounds, they care nothing for our wildlife and the laws set up to protect it, they use their considerable powers and influence to force Natural England and DEFRA to bow and scrape to their bidding and do anything they want them to do, including twisting the wildlife protection laws to suit them.

    More Pheasants are killed by bad weather and cars annually than are ever taken by birds of prey, Natural England and DEFRA should consider this point in some depth and do a true assessment of the miniscule impact by birds of prey before listening to the keepers moaning with their usual bloated tales blaming the Raptor scapegoats for what amounts to a comparatively negligible loss.

  • John Miles

    Buzzards – Main prey – Rabbits. Rabbits cause £200 million a year damage to agriculture, horticulture and private gardens.

    • nirofo

      In that case we should petition DEFRA to allow more Buzzards to live, maybe if we asked them to remove subsidies from estates where Raptor persecution takes place,(probably the majority of them)then the level of persecution might reduce. If that happened we could have more Buzzards, less rabbits and still have more Pheasants running around than is good for the natural environment. It’s obvious DEFRA doesn’t know it’s arse from it’s elbow !!!

  • As a professional forest manager, I have worked in Northern Ireland, where the state forests afforded much needed habitat and protection for Hen harrier, to SW Scotland, where buzzard and goshawk were plentiful, to mid Wales and back to the west country. I often see buzzard near my house on the edge of Bodmin. Forests are often a refuge for raptors, from the poisoning, trapping and shooting from the big game estates. I am disgusted that a native prey species should be culled, especially for the game bird industry. This is clearly, protection of a disgraceful special interests industry, why shoot any bird for sport and amazingly bury the remains? This activity must stop and only a strong support from those concerned at culling of raptors will change the actions of Natural England. I suspect these wealthy landowners receive millions of pounds of CAP funding each year for supposed environmental benefits, and the reality is that Natural England answer to the people of this country, and both national and international law and conservation agreements.