Why We Must BAN Driven Grouse Shooting

Why We Must BAN Driven Grouse Shooting

What has driven grouse shooting? Where does it happen? Why is there a campaign to ban it?

If you are a birder or British wildlife conservationist, you would have to have been without internet in Outer Mongolia to not have some idea what this campaign is about. There’s no need to repeat it.

Mark Avery is a nature conservationist and campaigner (http://markavery.info/category/grouse-and-harriers/).  A few years ago he left the constraints of the RSPB and started his vocal campaign for the ban of this damaging multi-million-pound business, where wildlife, habitat and flood protecting heathland is destroyed only for profit.

Why has this been allowed to happen and why has the government been secretly funding this carnage with £4 m in taxpayers subsidies?  Those running these estates and shooting on them are the friends and relatives of our wealthy and privileged MP’s.

At first, it seemed to me that many of the nature conservation groups stayed sitting on the fence and avoiding the risk of looking like anarchists. Talking about Hen Harrier persecution was OK but to be seen as being led by extremist activists was not. From this position, with the help of Chris Packham (watch his video http://bit.ly/2eRJpv0), Mark Avery’s almost one-man crusade has become something that almost all British naturalists and conservationists are now backing.

However, the RSPB still continues to back a system of licencing, even though this is unlikely to be effective taking into account the extreme level of criminality.  We can’t see how driven grouse shooting is any more beneficial to our countryside than paintballing and a lot more destructive and damaging.

Mark Avery started a petition, which had 123,077 votes (http://bit.ly/2dSAahr) which  states:

“Grouse shooting for ‘sport’ depends on intensive habitat management which increases flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions, relies on killing Foxes, Stoats, Mountain Hares etc in large numbers and often leads to the deliberate illegal killing of protected birds of prey including Hen Harriers.”

The petition led to a compulsory parliamentary debate due to take place tomorrow 31 Oct 2016 at 4.30 pm, but only after a totally biased government response.< I added my voice to the campaign by making a submission to the Parliamentary Commission for Petitions with the main theme being "You are only custodians of our wildlife at this time" http://bit.ly/2e1LWAW

“Written submissions from Miss Mya-Rose Craig (GRO0510)

My Name is Mya-Rose Craig and I am 14 years old. I live just south of Bristol but regularly visit my grandmother in North Yorkshire, where we go walking in the grouse moors. I, therefore, have first-hand experience of these moors.

I care about nature and wildlife as well as considering myself to be a conservationist. I write a blog called Birdgirl and was a Bristol European Green Capital 2015 Ambassador.

I know that many experts and “not so” experts will have given evidence, but I wanted to give my thoughts as the generation coming up behind yours. You are only custodians of our wildlife at this time, after which you must hand that over to me and my generation.

I live in a farming area, where many of my friends/ families are farmers and I think I understand their needs very well.

The people that own the grouse moors are not farmers. They are not growing food or raising livestock to feed our country. They are businesses which own the land and use it only to make money for themselves.”

I know that sometimes things happen because, over a long time, things become ingrained. That is what has happened with grouse moors. However, as a young person, I strongly feel that when you are reviewing a system, you should look at everything again to make sure that it is fit for the future. Not 2 more years in the future but 20 years in the future.

In the UK we have very little of our natural habitat left, with forests having been cut down for farming and also for landowners to make money. If we were talking about any other country, we would be demanding that some deforested areas should be re-planted. That is what should happen on the grouse moors.

My understanding is that the grouse shooting of the past bears no resemblance to the industry that exists now. I believe that as a nation we will only succeed in living with the nature around us, if we prioritise our wildlife and give it due respect.

Grouse estates have proven that they can not stay within the law in terms of illegally murdering birds of prey as well as the disgusting (though legal) practice of killing every living thing on the moor.

In addition, there are other issues such as that the moors are causing flooding. I think that the issue of jobs is a secondary one and can be resolved by grants being awarded for job creation in these areas. It is certainly not a valid reason for keeping grouse moors.

I hope that you will give my view, as someone from the next generation, valid considering. I would really like to be seeing eagles and Hen Harriers flying over Britain when I am an adult.

This is the Guardian’s recent article about the issue and secret subsidies to the super-rich http://bit.ly/2e1GKxd

This is the letter my Dad received from our conservative MP last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg. This is someone who lives in an alternate world where it’s normal to shoot birds and animals and rip foxes apart for fun.  However, the first part of this letter is astounding in how stupid it is and I really hope that he doesn’t turn up for the debate tomorrow.

“I do not oppose grouse shooting because it is one of the most delicious game birds. I feel it would be hypocritical to support banning something that I enjoy eating”

1.  Liking something is no justification for it being available to you. If you like the look of ivory, does that mean it should be legal to shoots elephants in Africa to meet your desires?
2. Anyway, you would only be banning driven grouse shooting and so could eat grouse that has been shot without beaters and also you could have free-range farms.

Letter from Mr Rees-Mogg MP to Chris Craig
Copyright Chris Craig

Whatever the result tomorrow, this is only the start of the campaign that will win in the end and will bring back our Hen Harriers even if they are allowed to become extinct by our current uncaring government.

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Cory’s Shearwater at Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Cory’s Shearwater at Porthgwarra, Cornwall

Thursday 1 September was a long day. Mum and I still needed to see Cory’s Shearwater. They are annual from Cornwall but during late July and August when we are away birding abroad. This year, we were home a week earlier than usual, with a week left in August. This was the week we had to try for one.

We got up at 3 am, travelled down to Porthgwarra, Cornwall to Seawatch. We were hoping to see Cory’s Shearwater, one of 4 birds that occur in Britain, that are non-rarities and which I haven’t seen. However, no luck and after a bit of birding in the area, we headed home only to be stuck in post-holiday traffic on the motorway. We arrived home 14 hours after leaving, exhausted. We’re decided to try again the next day as the winds are looking good if Dad could face the traffic again.

It was lovely to be back at Porthgwarra, where in 2009 we saw a very rare Black-browed Albatross come in from the sea and fly around in a circle and then on past us.

Chris Craig and Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

We were back down to Porthgwarra in Cornwall this morning, leaving at 3 am. We arrived at the same time as our good friends John Pegdon and Dan Pointon. By the time we got to the sea watching spot, they had already seen a Cory’s Shearwater! Luckily Dan called another one and got us into it, so big thanks to him. That was the first of 12 Cory’s Shearwater that I saw as well as a couple of Great Shearwater, Manx, Balearic and Sooty Shearwater. Cory’s Shearwater was Mum’s last British non-rarity, so we’ll be done. Thanks, Dad for driving us down there, especially with all the post-school holiday traffic.

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Western Swamphen, Lincolnshire

Western Swamphen, Lincolnshire

On Tuesday 30th August 2016 in the morning, news came out about a Western Swamphen being seen in Lincolnshire. It was the same bird as the one seen at Minsmere whilst we were in the USA.
We were all in the car within 20 minutes of the news breaking, on our way. When we arrived at the site, the bird hadn’t been seen for a while.  We waited nervously but we were then rewarded with great views. Although I was only able to get good views I could only get a record shot of the bird because of the distance.

It was amazing to catch up with this bird, after all this time. This was also Mum’s 500th British bird, which was a big achievement and my 456th bird. This is a record shot taken at a long distance.

Western Swamphen, Lincolnshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Western Swamphen twitch, Lincolnshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Western Swamphen twitch, Lincolnshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Western Swamphen, Lincolnshire
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

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WWT’s Plan for Nature Report Launch in London

WWT’s Plan for Nature Report Launch in London

On 20 July 2016, I travelled to London after school and had a brilliant evening attending Wildfowl and Wetland Trust’s launch of their Rich in Nature Report #planfornature at the Houses of Parliament, hearing some inspiring speakers and meeting lots of interesting speakers.

The report is really important in terms of setting out what the Government’s 25 year Plan for Nature should include.

Speakers included Stanley Johnson, Caroline Lucas, Rachael Maskell and Prof Georgina Mace who all urged the new Environment Secretary to make the Government’s proposed “25 year plan for nature” a priority, and they welcomed WWT’s suggestion that the Government be held to account through an annual statement to Parliament on the state of natural wealth.

It was really interesting to hear the speakers and talk to attendees from many of the nature and environmental charities afterwards.

Young conservationist Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Dr Richard Benwell, WWT
Photograph copyright WWT
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig
Martin Spray, WWT
Dr Richard Benwell, WWT
Caroline Lucas
Professor Georgina Mace
Stanley Johnson
Rachael Maskell

This is the link to the WWT article http://www.wwt.org.uk/news/all-news/2016/07/wwt-news/60888/

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

“Unfortunately a year into this Parliament there is no sign of a 25 year plan and the promise has been weakened along the way.

“In the post-EU world it’s more important than ever that we have a strong environmental plan for 25 years and that we have signposts along the way to that, like this wonderful new report from WWT which rightly calls for targets to set our direction and Parliamentary culpability to make sure that we achieve our goals.”

This was one section from the WWT article, which made me smile:

The evening was attended by 80 guests including environmental charities, land managers, businesses, academics and environment communicators including ‘urban birder’ David Lindo and ‘bird girl’ Mya-Rose Craig.

 

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American White-winged Scoter, Murcar, Aberdeenshire

American White-winged Scoter, Murcar, Aberdeenshire

Sometimes we do a long distance twitch that is really fun, just because of the madness of the trip.  That was what this twitch was like.

I had an inset day on Tuesday 5th July 2016. That’s when school is closed for teacher training.

So rather than have a lazy day at home, we left home after school and Dad drove us to the Lake District. My Gran has a caravan here and it’s the perfect place to stay over and get a few hours sleep.

Early morning of the 5th of July, we set out for North Eastern Scotland.  It was 9 am when we arrived at Murcar, Aberdeenshire.  We were looking for an American White-winged Scoter, which had been around a while. However, we soon found out that it had not been seen that morning. Had it gone?  The next few hours were spent looking through the telescope, out into the sea, which was hard to do as it was difficult picking up the birds and identifying them.

Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig at American White-winger Scoter Twitch
Young Birder Mya-Rose Craig at American White-winger Scoter Twitch

After 1-2 hours, Dad eventually found the Scoter and we got reasonable views but not good enough to digiscope photos.  It was a really amazing bird to see, all the way across the Atlantic. It was another new bird for my British and World List.

After watching it for an hour, we had to leave and head home, via a quick stop at the caravan, where Dad got a have a power nap.

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