In a controversial move, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) attended The CLA Game Fair with its stand focusing heavily on the issue of raptor persecution.

At the fair, BASC’s chief executive John Swift was invited to make a speech at an RSPB reception on the subject, during which he reiterated the legitimate shooting community’s condemnation of raptor persecution.

The move was viewed as a conciliatory exercise to promote better relations with the charity, but just a day later the RSPB issued its latest annual Birdcrime report stating that its own figures showed an increase of 40 per cent in reported crimes against birds of prey. The charity’s species officer Jeff Knott appeared on BBC television to say: “The key thing is that people are still attacking [raptors] very commonly across some areas of the uplands, particularly on areas of land managed as driven grouse moors and this really has to be unacceptable in any modern society.”

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation reflected on the developments: “There’s a prospect of real progress being made on the raptor issue, so it’s extremely disappointing when we see some of the old entrenched rhetoric being trundled out. We’re never going to solve these issues while the media is being fed inflammatory storylines. The RSPB is a huge organisation and, like a supertanker, it takes time to change course — we’ll just have to hope the cool heads in the charity don’t sacrifice the prospect of real progress for the sake of a few soundbites.”

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