Friday, May 25, 2012

Defra - Culling of Buzzards!

The news that Defra is going to spend £375,000 on looking at how to reduce buzzard impacts on pheasants, in a time when funding of any kind is so difficult, is startling and a disgrace! Why is Defra to fund research that should be funded by the shooting industry, if anyone at all.  Why is this a subject for government to fund? Does it deliver public benefits?  Is it a subject of huge scientific import?
There is no doubt that buzzards take a few pheasants but why a government department is spending my taxes on the trivial consequences of a native predator on a non-native gamebird escapes me completely.  Perhaps Defra should also be funding research on the most efficient poisons with which to kill off raptors while they are at it?

I had been, unusually, dumbfounded and at a loss for words, when reading of this project by Defra. I seriously cannot remember a comparable situation which has so angered my sense of injustice, compounded by a total, complete waste of our tax revenue at a time when funding of any kind has become so difficult.

Living for so many years in leafy Devon, I remember well the absolute carnage of road kills adjacent to release areas for Pheasants, which of course provided wonderful sources of fast and easy food for the local Buzzards! During all my years I had not questioned the morality of releasing and slaughtering millions of these chicken sized birds on the basis that so much woodland had been preserved to house this ‘so called’ sport. It had been a compromise of my beliefs, but I had convinced myself and others, that it was of benefit to so many other ‘natural’ species relying on mature woodland to roost, breed and feed. Sad, but I believed factual. Of course this belief was slightly flawed to some extent by the encouraging of under storey cover for Pheasants to skulk and hide, with obvious adverse affects, for example, to such species as Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher. So where now is the reciprocal compromise from the hunting fraternity whereby tolerance of some species of raptor can be demonstrated?
A new protected species for the UK?
Having had time to digest this latest in a line of follies from Defra, I am actually feeling positive about the negative! I have a sneaky feeling that at last we have a cause which will galvanise support against raptor persecution, a platform for uniting conservation bodies and public opinion against the senseless persecution of the hapless Buzzard. I believe this latest act of supporting a minority sport will be a massive own goal by Defra, Countryside Alliance and BASC.

FOOTNOTE: SUCCESS. Yesterday (30th May 2012) Defra did a U-turn on their proposals to investigate buzzard control for the benefit of pheasants.  It’s not easy for governments to do U-turns, we should thank Defra Minister, Richard Benyon for his re-think.  Thank you!


Thomas Hollyday said...

Peter I agree. Can you send me more so I can include in my newsletter this month. Tom Hollyday

Peter Jones said...

Will do Thomas - working today, but will take a look and let you have details tomorrow. Peter

harry said...

Fortunately not true...just a myth.

Anonymous said...

Peter Jones should start a petition against this.
What are the views of RSPB?
A buzzard cull seems crazy to me, when the real culprits are cars, vans and lorries, judging by the number of pheasants lying dead by the roadside in the Scottish Highlands.
Perhaps a cull of motorists would be more logical!rMdersa

Peter Jones said...

Hi Anonymous??

You can find the petition site on this link:

Peter Jones said...


Sorry, but read the so called Myth bust report again and then look at the facts of Buzzard diet etc., also ask yourself what this has got to do with Defra supporting research on a native bird's affect on a non-native species. If anything Defra would be better employed looking into the effect Pheasants have on insect, plant and other wildlife when released in such huge numbers. Peter

Giles Bradshaw said...

They aren't actually going to cull buzzards though

Peter Jones said...

Hi Giles,

Not sure if I would agree with you, shooting out nests and moving birds to whosoever will have them is in my view culling. See this link for further reference...