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Monday, 28 May 2012

Buzzards not welcome

In the Yorkshire Post, Country Week section, it reports that Defra is to fund £375,000 over the next 3 years in an experiment in Northumberland to harass Buzzards. This will include nest destruction and permanent off-site removal to a falconry centre.

Defra has had complaints from the game shooting business about buzzards taking young pheasants and this is Defra's response. The RSPB are naturally shocked by this venture.


  1. The Bird blog has reported its disgust at these proposals. Clearly any disturbance of these birds is illegal and they would be in breach of that law. The law states that:
    "The buzzard is fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take a buzzard, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents."

  2. The CBCG has written a letter of protest to our local MP and the relevant minister. The gist of the argument against includes the following points

    Common Pheasants are not native to the UK. Around 40 million birds are released every year for shooting.

    This proposal is entirely driven by the perceived financial impact of Buzzard predation on Pheasant poults, however an independent study carried out by ADAS (an independent consultant), commissioned by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, found that on average, 1-2% of pheasant poults released were taken by birds of prey (not just Buzzards). It found 45% of poults released were shot, with the remainder dying as a result of other factors, such as road collision and disease, or surviving to join the feral population. The study therefore concluded that losses to birds of prey were negligible compared to other much greater causes of loss. It found the financial cost of “average” bird of prey predation to a shoot releasing 1,000 poults per year, would be just £30.20

    Destroying nests is completely unjustified and catching and removing buzzards is unlikely to reduce predation levels anyway as another buzzard will quickly take its place.

    Both techniques would be illegal under current wildlife laws.

    At a time when funding for vital conservation work is so tight, and with another bird of prey, the hen harrier, facing extinction as a breeding bird in England, we can think of better ways of spending £400,000 of public funds

    The control of buzzards if allowed would not simply be restricted to this single species, certainly the goshawk, red kite and sparrowhawk would also be placed at risk by these measures with nests being misidentified leading to their destruction.

    Given that Buzzards are still recovering from past persecution and there is no evidence they are a significant cause of loss, this is a scandalous waste of public money.

  3. Petition available here

  4. Just heard via the web that the proposal has been dropped as a result of public opinion backlash, well done to anyone who took the time to complain, write e mails, sign petitions etc. Let's not take our eye off this one though, I believe the statement says they are "developing further research".