The values of hooked bills.

Many of you will know of Roy Dennis, a man who has spent most of his life working with raptors. I saw him yesterday and he was telling me of his latest exploits satellite tracking peregrines, eagles and ospreys. He was also updating me on the hugely controversial problem of persistent raptor persecution in some parts of the Highlands. We agreed – and have done before – that the root of the issue is cultural rather than economic.

So is the glass half-full or half-empty? Over the years I’ve met lots of ‘half-empty’ types, claiming persecution will never stop, and I concede that it’s a societal problem that shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon. That said, there was a time when drink-driving was acceptable; ditto racism; ditto most ‘isms’, and, if we go back far enough, ditto slavery. It’s all to do with values, and values change slowly, especially those that are as entrenched as killing birds of prey.

So in spite of Roy’s (and many others) concerns, my glass is definitely half-full. With one caveat: legislation might provide a framework for dealing with those that are caught committing wildlife crimes, but it’s a crude tool for changing cultural values.

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3 thoughts on “The values of hooked bills.

  1. You’re right, of course – legislation divorced from education is impotent. Equally important is the undermining of the hegemony of the class that employs most of those who do the actual killing of raptors.

  2. Pete,

    I applaud your glass half full attitude and completely agree with your comments about legislation. More efforts like your and Mark’s ‘Tooth and Claw’ initiative are definitely better tools for bringing about cultural change.

    I find myself at a crossroads here. I’m a wildlife (and definite raptor) enthusiast who has spent all my life watching and studying these beautiful birds of prey. I’m also a shooter and field sports enthusiast. As part of my job as a professional ecologist, I’ve spent countless hours sitting on Scottish grouse moors watching hen harriers, merlins and peregrines and other countless hours on unmanaged moorlands watching empty sky. There needs to be a compromise on both sides. Conservationists need to understand the benefits of grouse moors. Keepers and estate owners need to accept raptors. But most of all, both sides need to stop their bickering and petty snide remark, especially on online blogs.

    Come on folks, let’s act like adults – our natural heritage and keeper’s livelihoods are at stake. Let’s stop the bickering, compromise a little and work together for a common solution.


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