Gamekeepers have warned that the Government?s latest U-turn on plans to fund research into the predation of poults by buzzards will leave the birds of prey worse off.

DEFRA announced last week that it would not be proceeding with its original research proposals into non-lethal solutions to the problem of buzzards attacking young pheasants, following pressure from organisations including the RSPB.

Although the National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) says that serious damage caused by buzzards is not common, it believes that, where it does occur, losses to gamebirds can reach 30 per cent in exceptional cases.

An NGO spokesman said he believed that the Government?s change of heart, coming just days before the research was due to start, was the result of misinformation about the plans put forward by bird protectionists.

He said: ?By law, people with serious problems caused by buzzards can apply for a licence to control them.

?The deflection of this research means that such applications will just have to be judged without the benefit of independent scientific advice on possible non-lethal alternatives. It is hard to see how that will help buzzards.?

The rest of this article appears in the 13th June issue of Shooting Times.

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