Yesterday, as today (Sat.), I need to be based at home with no opportunity for active birding. It has provided me with the opportunity of reflecting heavily on the raptor persecution subject yet again and to work through a vast amount of information I've been sent or gained access to via the net. I also managed to unearth some , not all, of the notebooks I kept during the 1980-90's relating to bird of prey surveys, ringing and persecution reports. Such make depressing reading as they clearly demonstrate that old habits die hard and that the situation is little different today than in those past days. The overall total of birds of prey destroyed, or their breeding attempts interefered with, from that period to the present is difficult to comprehend in this day and age when conserving species and their habitats is so much to the fore. The willingness of some to pursue solutions reminiscent of Victorian times, in their own self-interests, is disgusting and does little except label them as pariahs within what , generally, is a more supportive national community.
But what of Bowland? Currently there are more active "war zones" than in Afghanistan!! Arguments between different factions, equally as convinced of their own rights and position, is clouding main objectives in my view.. There are a plethora of points to be resolved but bureaucracy, intransigence and personality issues are absorbing valuable time, particularly for the voluntary workers. A lead should be taken by one of the "formal" organizations aimed at resolving utterly the mish mash of cavalier activities, apparent prejudicial attention towards some individuals and the growing veneer of formality that is begining to cloak the whole operation. Instead there appears more of a willingness to frustrate initiatives by an ever growing set of rules relating to access, ringing licences, liaison requirements and so on.
Is there an operation in a corporate sense? It certainly seems not from the outside ,and what commenced as best efforts to address an issue of real concern are now begining to disintegrate. None of this will lead to better protection for raptors or to the comprehensive collection of data which will be the base upon which telling argument can rest.
It's ironic that, thirty years ago, many of the same volunteer workers active in Bowland at present were attempting to do the same as now, that is monitor the resident bird of prey populations and bring about an improvement to their status. Their continuing presence is a tribute to their passion and belief, as opposed to any political aspirations which one suspects motivate others! Seemingly their experience is being cast aside in a quest by others to dominate a situation against which the lessons of yesteryear are being ignored and fruitless activities being put in their place. In this day and age of surveillance I find it hard to believe that members of the police fraternity are given management permission to traipse around the uplands simply gathering data and that no attempts are being made to insert technology that will result in those responsible for persecution being brought to book. A list of regular sites at risk is known and could provide the basis for an initiative that demonstrated a real commitment by the Lancashire Police towards halting persecution. Is it not time for a 21st Millenium solution to be considered ?