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.