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Shooting Times recently made the decision not to run a controversial RSPB advertisement calling for readers to turn in people they suspect of persecuting birds of prey.

Last month, the RSPB wanted to place an advertisement with the headline A bad apple can spoil everything, encouraging gamekeepers to phone a confidential RSPB hotline to report wildlife crime.

However, ST took the decision not to run it as it felt the advertisement was offensive to readers.

Deputy editor Alastair Balmain explained: “We refused this advertisement on the grounds the copy implied that readers of ST are likely to have friends and associates taking part in criminal activity. Our readers would obviously find this insulting.”

He added ST does not condone or turn a blind eye to wildlife crime: “A large proportion of the readership of this magazine is made up of the UK’s gamekeeping community who conduct their affairs lawfully and responsibly. They would certainly have found the advertisement galling and provocative. Our stated position is that the proper channels to go through in the case of wildlife crime are the police or Crimestoppers”.

The advertisement’s copy included the following:

Take the bloke who thinks it’s okay to kill birds of prey.

Maybe you know him. He might even be someone who tells you it’s part of the job.

He understands that killing protected wildlife is illegal.

He’s aware that it drags the good name of gamekeeping through the mud.

But who will end up in court, possibly prison, when it all goes wrong?

Alastair Balmain also pointed out that ST is one of the few publications that is prepared to provide a forum for discussion of the issue of wildlife crime in an open and balanced way: “Last May, prior to The CLA Game Fair, we featured prominently an opinion article by Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s director of conservation, entitled Raptors: good men stand up, which addressed the very topic of reporting rogue keepers to the authorities.”

“We already play our part on this subject, but I’m afraid that we have to draw a line when the good character of our readership is cast in doubt.”

What is YOUR opinion? Was ST right to reject the advert?

Join other ST readers in our forums to discuss your views.

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