I’ve written before about how we sometimes have to make difficult decisions when trying to meet our conservation objectives. I’ve also said that undertaking any kind of predator control is always a last resort and always part of a much wider package of action including influencing the policy and legal framework of land management.
In the case of the curlew, there is a lot of work to be done. There has been much focus on the predator control element of our work to save this species but perhaps not enough about everything else, so today I thought I should broaden the picture a bit.
Andy Hay's image of a curlew (rpsb-images.com)
Since the 1990s, the number of breeding curlews in the UK has halved. We know that the decline in curlew across the UK is due to poor breeding success, which is linked to changes in land-use, as well as predation – the levels of which can be affected by how we manage the land.
Curlew are widely dispersed across the UK landscape. If we are to make a difference for them then it will require working together with farmers, land-managers, other conservation organisations and communities at a landscape-scale. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
But we know that’s not enough. We also need all four UK governments to step up and do their bit too – not just for curlew, but for a whole host of flora and fauna too. Here’s what we’re fighting for:
For the most part, environmental policy is devolved, yet of course wildlife doesn’t recognise national borders, therefore interventions to benefit species such as the curlew will require a UK-wide, joined-up approach.
Our current work as part of the Curlew Recovery Programme is essentially to buy the species some time – intervening today while we try to fix the landscape-level drivers of decline - but that time it’s swiftly running out. Reforming the way we manage our land across the UK is the only way we will see the fortunes of this and many other species turn around.
If you, like us, believe that a reform to land management is needed, please email your MP, SMP or AM. You can find help on how to do this here.
I have been a member for years as well. However, I have assisted in the culling of grey squirrels to allow the red squirrels to return where I live. Similarly, I have assisted in monitoring for and killing - yes killing - invasive american mink, which has allowed water voles to return here. I still monitor for mink in case they return (no sign for some years) because I know the carnage they can cause to wildlife.
I differ in my views from yours, obviously, but I do not find it difficult to defend my actions. There are no "other measures" which need to be looked at. The RSPB has my support in this matter, at least.
Having been an RSPB members for years We have asked for our membership to be cancelled. Yes Curlews need to be protected to encourage their numbers. However as with a lot of other actions there does not need to be the culling of other animals to hopefully fulfil a desired effect. Other measures need to be looked at and not the knee jerk reaction of killing other species.
Phil. if you were not aware that the RSPB resort to lethal methods of control you have not been paying attention. I read every year here what has been happening with regard to this. The numbers, the reserves are all stated, together with what other previous action has been attempted. Fences do not always provide a solution, particularity if threatened species are subject to avian predation or swimming mammals.
Hi Phil, I have been open about our vertebrate control science, policy and practice for a number of years and annually publish the statistics of what we do - for example see here community.rspb.org.uk/.../the-conservationist-39-s-dilemma-an-update-on-the-science-policy-and-practice-of-the-impact-of-predators-on-wild-birds-5. I recognise that not everyone will agree with the approach we adopt but, as I explain in the blog and indeed in many public fora when asked, we resort to lethal control as a last resort to meet our conservation ambitions. Best wishes, Martin
Congratulations Martin. You managed all that without stating what is actually going to happen. The RSPB are going to Kill Foxes! Rather cowardly you admitted this from your blog if you ask me. This will be the biggest mistake the RSPB has ever made. You're not only going to be the next National Trust (now losing 100s of member per week) you're about to lose the backing of Chris Packham.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654