National Trust says corvids are ?rare?

New evidence has emerged of the National Trust?s restrictive attitude towards shooting, a week after a leading member of the organisation stated that the trust ?understands the importance of countryside traditions?.

A syndicate has told Shooting Times magazine that the trust had placed ?utterly ridiculous? constraints on it, including stopping members from shooting corvids such as carrion crows and magpies.

A syndicate member who wished to remain anonymous, said: ?I got quite cross. They sent up a ?wildlife conservation officer? from Wiltshire who explained that carrion crows were among the many species which were declining across Europe.?

?When you have someone like that, allegedly quoting science, it?s very difficult to argue with them. My reaction was that there doesn?t seem to be any shortage here.?

Though the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species says carrion crows are declining over Europe, it also says ?the population size is extremely large?.

The latest figures from the British Trust for Ornithology indicate a significant increase in abundance in the UK over recent years.

The shooter continued: ?I understand if it?s a migratory bird, when if there are thousands fewer in Scandinavia that might have a bearing on us, but carrion crows stay here and don?t go anywhere. I can?t believe that what is happening in France, Hungary or wherever will make any difference to our own stocks.?

?There?s a farmer near here, a tenant of the National Trust, who is actively complaining that he has a problem with carrion crows on his farm. But the trust weren?t terribly interested in what any of us had to say. Their view was that this is the policy, and that?s that. It?s barmy ? it doesn?t make any sense at all.?

Two weeks ago, Shooting Times revealed that shooters on the Wallington Estate in Northumberland, whose lease was suddenly terminated in January, were also stopped from shooting carrion crows.

Trust officials there told shooters that the birds were ?quite rare?.

Syndicate member, John Evans, said: ?I took the matter up with the trust?s legal person at their head office, and told her that if she came up to Northumberland and stood still for long enough, carrion crows would carry her away.?

?I made the point that they might be rare in Wiltshire, but they?re far from rare here. In fact, they?re quite a considerable nuisance to farmers, and lambs in particular. She said she would have to consult with colleagues, and eventually we did get carrion crows put back on our quarry list.?

The National Trust?s director of conservation, Peter Nixon, said: ?The trust has no objection in principle to the legal control of predators but needs to be satisfied about the purpose, methods and effectiveness. Decisions are made locally about these, according to local circumstances.?

?Concerted and sustained control of species such as crows and foxes can increase the populations of lowland gamebirds and songbirds, and on moorland of species such as curlew and lapwing. However, making the quality and scale of habitat better for birds is critical.?