POLL: Should crows and foxes be culled to protect ground-nesting birds?

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The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has been rocked by a furious row over its controversial of crows and foxes on its reserves. Outraged members took to social media to say they are resigning over the killings, which are intended to protect the eggs of ground-nesting birds such as .

Those complaining say they did not join the charity for it to kill wildlife. One warden waded into the row on Twitter, branding those complaining ‘knuckleheads’ and boasting the charity was so wealthy it did not need their membership fees.

crows is particularly emotive as a type of snare called a ‘Larsen trap’ is used.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has faced a backlash over its controversial culling of crows and foxes, which are intended to protect the eggs of ground-nesting birds such as curlew. (Stock photo)

This involves placing a live in a cage to act as a decoy. When another bird is drawn to the cage, it falls through a false floor into a compartment to await its fate.

The device was invented in Denmark, but is now banned there for being inhumane.

In 2016/2017 the RSPB killed 661 crows to ‘protect ground-nesting birds’ at 15 of its sites, up from 475 in 2015/16.

It also killed 414 foxes for the same reason, up from 390. Other birds and animals killed by the RSPB included 11 gulls to protect terns, and 432 red deer to ‘restore woodland and heathland’.

Though some have expressed support for the measures, dozens of members have objected to the culls.

Elaine Mariani said: ‘Larsen traps and of other animals to protect one species are not what I signed up for.’

Another, Christine Stewart, wrote: ‘Membership cancelled. It’s not a few birds that have been culled, it’s hundreds of foxes and other wildlife too.’

Toby Collett, a RSPB warden at the Frampton Marsh reserve in Lincolnshire, wrote: ‘Quite a few knuckleheads and Nimbys running their mouths off about … evidence-based conservation management.

Killing crows involves a type of snare called a ‘Larsen trap’ (pictured above). A live crow is put in the cage to act as a decoy and when another bird is drawn to the cage, it falls through a false floor into a compartment to await its fate

‘It’s lucky the RSPB is so flush with £££ and influence and UK wildlife is doing so well that we don’t need every single member to support the work we do.’He retracted the tweet at 4.05am the next day and apologised.

The RSPB had an income of around £140million last year and more than one million members, making it the largest conservation charity in Europe.A spokesman said: ‘The individual involved spoke out of turn … The views expressed in the tweet are not those of the RSPB.’

In a blog post the charity’s head of global conservation, Martin Harper, described the ‘dilemma’ of killing predators to protect and said there were no non-lethal options available.

Ian Gregory of campaign group You Forgot The Birds, which supports killing or predators to protect birds, said: ‘Those who oppose this are not knuckleheads but well-meaning people with different priorities.

‘They find it hard to accept that the RSPB and gamekeepers choose to kill some animals in order to save the lives of many others. But tough choices cannot be avoided.’

This article was first published by The Daily Mail on 09 Aug 2018.

We invite you to share your opinion whether crows and foxes should be culled to protect ground-nesting birds? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should crows and foxes be culled to protect ground-nesting birds?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Karen Lyons Kalmenson

I cannot believe that in this, the techno savvy 21st century, killing remains the go to for issues such as this.

If we humans applied the same degree of effort into non lethal solutions that are utilized for life taking, there would be a win win for all species and for our Mother Earth.

Irene Leggett
Irene Leggett

This isn’t about management and conservation….its about keeping plenty of ground-nesting birds such as the pheasant and partridge about so the gun-toting, trigger-happy, brain-dead, gutless HUNTING BRIGADE can have their fun, entertainment and sport…..shooting birds that have been partially hand-reared and don’t even fly away. Every year up to 50 MILLION birds are released just so the happy hunting brigade can enjoy their days murdering defenseless birds. In fact they kill so many birds daily, that most of the birds are just dumped in piles and left to rot at the edge of the fields and some are even thrown… Read more »


A paper in British Birds 108 • November 2015 • 660–668 states “the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata should now be considered the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species. A co-ordinated UK recovery programme is urgently required to help ensure that this species does not suffer the same fate as that of some other Numenius species.” That fate is extinction or near extinction. Curlews are not fledging enough chicks to maintain numbers and a major reason is considered to be predation. Predator control has been shown to increase breeding success. I am a fan of corvids, interesting and intelligent birds, but… Read more »

Andrew Phillips


Roy Ravioli Buxton

In some people’s hands the world would be a quiet still place.

Cath Haynes

should humans be culled to protect the natural world?

Cath Haynes


Helen Smith

Erm, that’s a difficult one. Maybe their numbers should be watched but I don’t think culling them is the way to go about it, due to other species of the crow family prodate them to, for instance the jackdaw. Also it has been caught on film sheep and even deer will eat ground nesting birds eggs. They recon they are after the calcium in the egg shells.

Noel Gallagher


Clive Terry


Morgan F. Lowry


Steven Anderson
Steven Anderson

Not enough information. Is this a new situation? Have crows and foxes always been present here as predators on ground-nesters? If control is necessary, it certainly should be by humanitarian methods.

Timothy Hugh Walker
Timothy Hugh Walker

The trouble is mankind (humans) are becoming rampant on this small planet and because of their superior brainpower are upsetting the natural balance.


Despite great work done by RSPB, this is so wrong that I’ve cancelled my @Natures_Voice membership.… https://t.co/XKojPZPEL9