On a day when the weather spoilt the first half and a decision to be inside dominated the second, the Eagle Owl issue suddenly emerged moving at full bore!!
Some rumour that Government authorities had already decided to do ahead and implement a proposed action for a cull of the above species, referred to in a recent Risk Assessment associated with alien species, brought proponents of its retention in the UK to its defence and an absolute avalanche of activity arose directed at any and every formal institution having some association with the process and debate. For full details do go to the Raptor Politics website.
Given there is now a clear cut statement from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds's Director of Conservation as to its public position on the matter ( it doesn't agree with a cull and feel there are more important aspects to address ) and a declaration from the senior Civil Servant involved that no decision had been taken, and that the matter will be looked at thoroughly, possibly means that the whole issue will now be looked at rationally and within a reasonable framework. All this seems strange given my understanding some couple of weeks ago that the decision had been arrived at........no smoke without fire one feels!!!
It is felt by many that, under the EU Birds Directive, the young of species naturally present within the overall EU area that are reared freely in the wild are,therefore , protected under the aegis of that provision. My advice, in discussion with colleagues, is that this needs to be tested and a definitive interpretation obtained, not from any UK institution, but from Brussels. Should that be positive it should mean that the influence of the EU can be brought to bear on any UK Government proposal that runs counter to the interpretation. UK policy advisers are basing their case on all birds within the UK being derived from captive stock, which is not a proven fact. Others, like myself, believe it is possible some Eagle Owls, admittedly a small number , might be derived from Continental populations, particularly given the species is undergoing a gradual range expansion.
Given the estimated population ( by some ) is said to be only 95 birds within the UK, the concern appears ill founded particularly as it appears to rest on some as yet never revealed film footage of an Eagle Owl supposedly predating a Hen Harrier nest. Given the resounding success of the latter species this season in the Forest of Bowland, the only real English stronghold and an area where Eagle Owls are known to be present , the whole analysis seems to be muddled and prejudiced. Most breeding Hen Harriers are in Scotland and one wonders the extent to which the Scottish Parliament are party to such deliberations!!
Given the emergent concerns about the UK's financial predicament one imagines both George Osborne and Danny Alexander might be interested in both the proposed costs which might be involved and evaluate the relative value of such from their respective geographical loci!!
To be continued......undoubtedly.