Two good men, both gamekeepers, stood up and were counted. They risked everything, the court was told one of them, as a member, contacted his gamekeeping organisation but received an unsatisfactory response.
They could not be silent as they had witnessed horrific crimes. Badgers bludgeoned to death, multiple buzzards blasted out the sky and barbaric spring traps set in the open to kill raptors. Thanks to BASC and the courage of these men, two gamekeepers from the Kempton Estate in Shropshire, Kyle Burden and Roger Venton, were convicted.
The fact that for the first time the two gamekeepers were prepared to give evidence in a court against their colleagues is a major landmark in the battle against the persecution of birds of prey.
So, one month after the final suspended sentence was handed down to the ‘rogue’ gamekeepers, where are we?
It is not really a case of what has been said but much more about what hasn’t. Shooting Times, one of the most commonly-read shooting magazines reported on the case but missed the really crucial point that it was gamekeepers who were the ones to blow the whistle in this case. An oversight or an inconvenient truth?
In 2008, the RSPB launched a Bird of Prey campaign and we have been encouraged by the thousands who have pledged their support for birds of prey.
Following the bravery of the two gamekeepers who came forward, we produced an advert calling for other good men in the shooting world to follow suite and confidentially report other ‘bad apples’.
Shooting Times declined to accept our words or money and refused to carry the advert. Apparently, it would have been an insult to their readers to suggest they may know wildlife criminals.
To add further insult to injury, we have been made aware that one of the whistleblowers even wrote a letter to Shooting Times in order to add an exclusive inside view to the debate. Three weeks on his letter has still not been published - we wonder why ? Ironically, the most recently published letter simply attacks the RSPB for testing the fairness of ST.
So what does a ST reader want to read ?
In a current on-line poll at www.shootingtimes.co.uk, over 65% of voters believe the magazine was wrong not to feature the RSPB hotline advert. Good on you, you are the type of people we can engage with, the same type of people we enjoyed talking to at the Game Fair last year - the majority appalled by the harm done to shooting by the few who, under the instruction of their bosses, commit such cowardly crimes.
The facts are out there but not all appear to be welcome and certainly have yet to be published, in some quarters.
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