May 242012
 

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) – Photo by Lukasz Lukasik – he RSPB has called the plans “totally unacceptable”

Conservationists have condemned a plan that would allow buzzard nests to be destroyed and enable the birds to be captured to protect pheasant shoots.

The UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to research ways of keeping buzzards from targeting the game birds.

Defra says it wants to maintain a balance between captive and wild birds that allows both species to thrive.

The study is to last three years and could cost up to £375,000.

The RSPB said the idea of taking wild buzzards into captivity or destroying their nests was “totally unacceptable”.

The bird protection society criticised Defra for spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the project when money was tight for conservation measures.

The RSPB’s conservation director, Martin Harper, said: “We are shocked by Defra’s plans to destroy buzzard nests and to take buzzards into captivity to protect a non-native game bird released in its millions.

“Destroying nests is completely unjustified and catching and removing buzzards is unlikely to reduce predation levels, as another buzzard will quickly take its place.

“Both techniques would be illegal under current wildlife laws.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “The buzzard population in this country has been protected for over 30 years, and as the RSPB says, has resulted in a fantastic conservation story.

“At the same time we have cases of buzzards preying on young pheasants. We are looking at funding research to find ways of protecting these young birds while making sure the buzzard population continues to thrive.” Recent recovery

In a document setting out plans for the research project, Defra said the 2011 National Gamekeepers Organisation survey found that three-quarters of gamekeepers (76%) believed buzzards had a harmful effect on pheasant shoots.

Buzzards are thought to target pheasant release pens if they find there is a readily available source of food, and the government’s conservation agency Natural England has received a number of requests to license the killing of the birds of prey, which are a protected species.

In one case it was claimed that 25% to 30% of young pheasants were lost to buzzards, making the shoot unsustainable.

Buzzards have seen numbers increase by 146% between 1995 and 2009, although the increase appears to have levelled off between 2009 and 2010, according to the British Breeding Bird Survey.

But the RSPB said buzzards were eradicated from swathes of Britain by persecution and were only now recovering, as a result of legal protection and changing attitudes by many lowland land managers towards birds of prey.

The government’s document said the impact of buzzards on pheasant shoots had not been investigated in detail, and the extent of the issue was unclear.

But it said there were a number of sites where buzzards could be contributing to losses, and that there was an urgent need for management measures to reduce the impact on pheasant shoots. ‘Taken seriously’

The Countryside Alliance welcomed the government’s study, saying it showed the issue of predation by buzzards was being taken seriously.

But David Taylor, shooting campaign manager for the group, added: “It is a shame the government have had to commission this expensive exercise simply to appease a group of people who believe that raptors have a greater significance than any other bird.

“Such a mentality is dangerous for conservation and scarcely justifies the large cost to the taxpayer.”

Tim Russell, director of conservation at the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (Basc), said: “In recent years there has been growing concern amongst some gamekeepers that buzzards are causing serious damage around pheasant release pens.

“Basc believes that good scientific research is essential when making decisions about wildlife management and so we welcome this research.”

Nigel Middleton, of the Hawk and Owl Conservation Trust, said destroying the nests of buzzards was tantamount to persecution.

“We believe that alternatives should always be sought to lethal control where the commercial interests of humans come into conflict with birds of prey,” he explained.

This article was written and published by BBC News Science and Environment.

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Leave a Comment

2 Comments on "Buzzard capture plans condemned"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Rayroche
Guest

This proposal is a national disgrace. Spending this money on ‘research’ at a time when the Hen harrier population in England teeters on the edge of extinction through systematic persecution to protect shooting interests would be bad enough.If you add in the persecution routinely suffered by Goshawks and Peregrines we are back to the victorian shooting mentality that exterminated birds of prey across the countryside.

wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. Saudi authorities sound warning on illegal hunting in rented farms [1489 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the harvesting of wild turtles be banned? [915 Views]
  3. POLL: Should this Canadian pipeline project be scrapped to save killer whales? [870 Views]
  4. The man saving 30,000 seabirds [787 Views]
  5. 7 stunning forest birds we could soon lose forever [738 Views]
  6. Another Hen Harrier shot dead sparking fears for rare bird of prey [663 Views]
  7. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [658 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the bear bile trade ban be strictly enforced? [636 Views]
  9. 13 birds that aren’t for the faint of heart [633 Views]
  10. POLL: Should hare coursing be banned in Ireland? [544 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [41916 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16649 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the annual Canadian seal hunt be banned? [14027 Views]
  4. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [13443 Views]
  5. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11093 Views]
  6. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8457 Views]
  7. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [8416 Views]
  8. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8287 Views]
  9. POLL: Should black bears be killed for Royal Guards’ fur caps? [8019 Views]
  10. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7319 Views]