Great for Spain’s wildlife but look what we have to put up with!!

The Duke of Westminster owns and leases land in Spain for shooting which is the home for the endangered Iberian lynx together with several nesting pairs of Spanish Imperial Eagles, and rated as the best protected area in Europe for endangered wildlife. But back in Britain where the Duke owns several Red Grouse moors in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, at one time regarded as England’s stronghold for breeding Hen Harriers, but not any more. Before the present Duke’s father purchased the estate following the death of  Lord Sefton in 1972, there were at least 12 nesting pairs of Hen Harriers on the Abbeystead and Littledale estates, but not too surprising the bulk of pairs had disappeared within three years of a change in the estates ownership. As if these losses were not bad enough, the last of seven established Peregrine territories on the Dukes Bowland estates was found abandoned in 2014.  Where have all the Hen Harriers, Peregrines, Ravens and Short eared Owls gone?. So what is wrong with protecting rare species of wildlife in England like they seem to do very well in parts of Spain?


Iberian Lynx with partridge kill

The new Duke of Westminster, 25 year old Hugh Richard Louis, is estimated to have inherited £9 Billion from his late father who died in August 2016 together with a 25,000 hectare Spanish hunting estate called La Garganta (the throat) leased in 2001 by his father. He also owns all of the Park Natural Valley of Alcudia and Sierra Madrona in Spain.


Shooting Partridge on one of the Dukes estates in Spain

The estate is recognised at a European level for its environmental management and conservation of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Iberian Lynx, both now recognised as separate species from the Eastern Imperial Eagle and the European Lynx. For 30 years the farm has held one of the most important populations of lynx in Spain. At the moment there are more than 30 individual lynx due to several good breeding years and an abundance of rabbit and partridge as prey items. Black Stork and Black Vulture populations are also thriving along with many other species of birds of prey. The farm management are cooperating with the Spanish government to implement conservation plans using EU payments. There are an estimated 324 species of vertebrate living in the area.


Imperial Eagle

The current Dukes father was embroiled in a row over a decision to reroute a proposed motorway around his other private hunting grounds down in southern Spain. The decision, which added up to £80 million to the construction costs, was taken by the Minister of Public Works, who had been a guest on the Duke’s estates in Spain. Other visitors to these hunting areas have included King Juan Carlos, bankers, industrialists and members of the European nobility including Prince William and Harry.


Princes William and ‘Harrier’ in Spain

Interesting to note all these Spanish areas are well used by local and International bird companies including companies from Britain.

At the present no English or International birding companies visit the Forest of Bowland, and those birders who continue to visit Bowland’s moorland are now beginning to complain that there are few if any species such as Hen Harrier, Peregrine or Short-eared owl left to see! Why? Because the management of the Forest of Bowland have done little if anything to protect the regions Birds of Prey. Scotland’s wildlife tourist industry is exploding, mainly away from shooting estates, but is now worth more than shooting, while in England we have to put up with this shambles!!


Wild Boar and Stags shot at El Castañar-Monterias, Spain

6 comments to Great for Spain’s wildlife but look what we have to put up with!!

  • Trapit

    A very interesting comparison between the Westminster estates, and their management,in the two respective countries.
    Much Partridge shooting in Spain nowadays,is reliant on reared birds.
    However,certainly up to a couple of years ago this estate,along with a few others,had persisted with the more traditional wild bird shoot.
    Direct comparison with Grouse shooting is pointless,although this article shows that protected Raptors,and Carnivores,can thrive on a driven shoot.
    I am sure that the current high numbers of rabbits help in this respect,
    nevertheless the fact remains.
    Obviously,the estate proprietors have more regard for Spanish domestic,and European, conservation designations than they do in their home country.
    Maybe the penalties are more to be feared,or the incentives are greater?.
    Incidentally, many readers of this post may be unaware that Tom Gullick, formerly top ranked in world birding,and the first person to officially see nine thousand species,took the lead in organising this sort of shooting in Spain in the early seventies,and certainly until recently,continued to be very active in this field.

    Another good post from Raptor Politics,showing an aspect to the Bowland story that many would be unaware of.
    It’s such a pity that, according to one particular source,so few people will see it,as apparently it is questionable if anybody logs on anymore!.

    How many followers is it now ?.

    • Interestingly according to Ian Carter (ex Natural England Employee) commenting recently on Mark Averys blog August 25th Bowland:Crimes Against Nature by Eleanor Upstill-Goddard, Raptor Politics had very few followers. Well that claim was fundamentally flawed, as of today Raptor Politics is just 107 short of 9000 followers, many who have stated they find the blog is an excellent source of information and is doing a worthwhile job highlighting raptor persecution generally.

  • Ian Carter

    Terry – I suggested that fewer people read this blog than might otherwise be the case because you offer such a limited right of reply. You criticise organisations and sometimes named individuals but often don’t publish their responses. That is irritating in itself for those involved but also makes the whole blog far less interesting to read.

    • Innocent Bystander

      Thank you for your constructive criticism – with which we disagree. The Raptor Politics site was set up to give the members of the NWRPG a voice, not their critics.

      Be advised this site owes much to you – your astonishing support and encouragement when NWRPG members reported problems of uncoordinated, duplicate and excessive visits to nests by others was, amongst other things, the reason this site came into being.

      We note that in an attack by you on the NWRPG on Mark Avery’s blog you wrote recently: “The group (NWRPG) itself has even managed to get kicked out of the North of England Raptor Forum – which must take some doing.” –

      You’re absolutely right there, because NERF had no constitution or disciplinary procedures, therefore no means of expelling anybody.

      Chairman Paul Irving claimed that the NWRPG had embarrassed NERF and their partners as the reason for sending them an email saying they had been expelled. The incident that provoked this was when Terry Pickford reported in his capacity as Peregrine coordinator that two other members of the NWRPG had observed three people at a peregrine nest, two of whom were known to the observers, and who stayed at the nest for over eighty minutes, and a third who wasn’t identifies (and who didn’t stay at the nest overlong).

      Irving claimed he was the third person, and denied that anybody stayed that long after he’d left.

      Note that nobody had contacted Terry Pickford – as Peregrine coordinator – to say they were visiting the nest that day.

      That appeared to be the end of the matter until sometime later the NWRPG received an email telling them they were no longer members of NERF for ‘causing embarrassment’ – an alleged breach of a non-existent rule.

      You’ll note that Terry Pickford was only relaying what other members of the NWRPG had reported, yet NERF/Irving took their (unjustified) ire out on the whole group!

      If you care to look up ‘natural justice’, you’ll see that the real bad boys in this matter are Irving and NERF. This was carefully explained to them by the NWRPG’s solicitors – including the consequences – but Irving and NERF were adamant they had the right to dismiss the NWRPG. They were wrong.

      The NWRPG had the option to take NERF to court for their disregard of natural justice. This would have resulted in NERF having to pay costs and damages. NERF defied every aspect of natural justice, and this is not a trivial matter. It applies to government bodies all the way down to tin-pot little clubs. A high-profile case where natural justice was not respected was when Ed Balls sacked Sharon Shoesmith, of Haringey council, without a fair hearing. This cost the taxpayer a six-figure sum in damages when she appealed against being unfairly and unlawfully sacked.

      Ultimately, the NWRPG walked away from NERF rather than take them to court, as they didn’t wish to work with them any longer. Who could blame them?

      I have copies of the correspondence between NERF and Coupe-Bradbury (NWRPG’s solicitors) to substantiate the above.

      Under the circumstances, it would be unwise to go around saying that the NWRPG were ‘kicked out’ of NERF, the incident reflects and highlights NERF’s bad behaviour, not that of the NWRPG.

      I do hope your decision not to renew Terry Pickford’s licences for Bowland back in 2011 wasn’t in any way influenced by NERF’s machinations.

  • Albert Ross

    I am probably one of those 9000 even though I find some of the editorial a bit frenetic and narrow minded in content at times. But everyone is entitled to an opinion and I continue to support any movement to curb the lawless and criminal persecution of wildlife whether on two wings or four legs.
    The atrocities in Bowland need to be tackled head on and there is a long way to go. This article shows the lie to the oft uttered refrain that predators and ‘game’ preservation are naturally self exclusive.
    They are not. Many of the best ‘preserved’ lands harbour lots of raptors and other predators.
    It is the blind and wilful criminality that needs to be wiped out.

  • Trapit

    Raptors,their persecution, protection, and the protagonists on both sides are a frenetic subject in themselves, generating strong opinions. The proliferation of blogs concerned with the matter, aided by other forms of social media, has ensured this will continue.

    Raptor Politics was created, and continues to act as, a valid forum to air and discuss these problems,it does what it says on the tin.

    I find quite interesting the variety, of mainly raptor related, but also other relevant stories, gleaned from around the world.

    One big difference I find, with other sites I am acquainted with, is the relating of actual field experiences, written by those at the sharp end. I do not get this with any other providers,and strongly feel that others in a similar position to this group have missed a trick here.

    This continues in spite of all problems placed before them, and if it is thought that the editorial is, at times, narrow minded in returning to these problems, it is due to a sense of great injustice, and indeed helplessness being felt.