Global conservation bodies like the IUCN accept that the best outcomes for endangered species come when human economic needs are recognised along with those of animals.
The RSPB is completely unwilling to accept this principle when it comes to birds of prey. It shows no sympathy to gamekeepers, farmers and pigeon racers when they complain that rapid growth in bird of prey populations are affecting their ability to operate. Nor do they have any sympathy to anglers who complain about growing cormorant populations decimating fish stocks.
High Court Judgment: The principle was tested in the High Court in 2015. The case centred on an RSPB letter writing campaign which had successfully pressurised Defra officials into refusing to give a licence to a Northumbrian gamekeeper to control buzzards. These birds were driving him out of business by eating large numbers of his pheasants. The High Court ruled that officials had acted illegally.
Hen Harriers: The principle of balancing interests also sits at the heart of Defra’s Brood Management Scheme for hen harriers. By ensuring that concentrations of hen harriers do not reach the levels where a moor becomes uneconomic, the pressure for rogue gamekeepers to disrupt these birds is reduced. Yet for decades the RSPB has opposed this principle until ministers made clear in 2016 that the scheme would go ahead with or without their approval.
Zero Tolerance: There is a strong culture of respect for raptors among most gamekeepers. The number of prosecutions for persecution has gone down despite increased surveillance of moors. There has not even been one prosecution of a gamekeeper in England for attacking hen harriers since 2001. The growing zero tolerance towards persecution was illustrated in the worst case in recent years. A Norfolk gamekeeper who killed eleven buzzards was handed over by another gamekeeper. The RSPB has no incentive to praise this progress as it fundraises on a narrative of persecution.