Shooting organisations have countered a public attack on keepers by the RSPB?s Dr Mark Avery after the bird charity?s outgoing director of conservation said he believed gamekeepers were ?targeting? hen harriers on grouse moors across the UK.
Dr Avery?s comments followed the publication last week of results from the 2010 hen harrier survey, which showed hen harrier numbers in the UK had fallen by 17 per cent between 2004 and 2010, but increased by 32.5 per cent in Wales and nine per cent in England. Dr Avery said: ?Every year, hen harriers are targeted on grouse moors across the UK and this onslaught is having a significant impact on their population. We believe that gamekeepers are killing them illegally under pressure from their land-owning masters.?
However, the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) said the RSPB?s outburst was ?completely out of order? and that ?law-abiding gamekeepers were fed up with being smeared by Dr Avery?. A spokesman said: ?There are way more hen harriers in the UK than there were 50 years ago and in all that time there have been only a handful of convictions of gamekeepers for killing them. It is damaging and illogical to claim that gamekeepers today are ?systematically? killing these special birds just on the ?evidence? there aren?t many about.”
The rest of this article appears in 9th March issue of Shooting Times.
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