Giving Nature A Bullet

They Shot Bambi

Yesterday we showed how many RSPB donors were disturbed by how little it spends on running its nature reserves. Today we reveal that some of the money the RSPB does spend on conservation money goes on killing thousands of animals.

They Shot Bambi

In its search for ever more money the RSPB projects a cuddly image of nature. Its Vote For Bob campaign is based on “Bob” a fluffy squirrel, “Hilly” the “Hedgehog” and a cute seal pup called “Gregor”. The image it doesn’t show is that it is shooting hundreds of “Bambis”. Last year the RSPB shot dead 1,129 deer along with 273 “Freddy” foxes. It also deliberately suffocated hundreds of unborn chicks by smearing oil around their shells. The RSPB is right to think many of it members would be horrified by this. An opinion poll by TNS showed 33% of RSPB donors were opposed to it shooting foxes.

The RSPB’s “Vote for Bob” campaign features a cuddly squirrel. Bob has harvested 100,000 email addresses for the RSPB’s fundraising team

Many of its urban supporters do not understand why some of the money that they thought was helping nature to live instead goes on killing animals. That’s in part because the RPSB’s marketing messages are full of sanitised marketing speak. It’s also because the RSPB is so quick to criticise others about their approach to conservation. Yet as everyone working in the country knows the balance of nature often does need managing. It’s time it was honest about its own approach to these complexities.

Misrepresenting nature for fundraising purposes is dubious. But worse than that is its coyness about nature being “red in tooth and claw” deters the RSPB from properly protecting threatened birds from predators like crows and foxes. The result is that RSPB reserves are simply not very good at creating flourishing birdlife. Scientific studies show that gamekeepers do a better job.

“Rare birds like Golden Plovers thrive when they have rich habitat and are protected from foxes. The RSPB is doing a lousy job at that.”

Sir Ian Botham