A somewhat unanticipated announcement by Richard Benyon, MP ( Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries )has finally injected some sense into the debate and proposed cull associated with Eagle Owls. An E-mail sent on to the Raptor Politics web site by DEFRA yesterday advised that the Minister had issued a statement which said "After considering all the facts on the threat that Eagle Owls pose to native wildlife I have not been convinced that any immediate action is needed to control them. We will continue to monitor the effect they are having on other species, such as Hen Harriers,and will reassess the situation if necessary."
Thank goodness commonsense has shone through at last. It's been worth all the hard work and, in this context, thanks must go to a number of people. Tony Warburton, President of the World Owl Trust, Chrissie Harper whose sheer persistence must have weighed heavily on some and to the Raptor Politics website. Whilst I don't always agree with some of the comments made by contributors against articles on the site the fact that there is a facility where all such views can be expressed is a strength and allows things to be brought out into the open. Finally, a well deserved "thank you" to Dr. Mark Avery ( Director of Conservation, RSPB ) whose initial scepticism was amended eventually and an honest appraisal issued that the Ministers announcement closely mirrors in many respects. One might even suspect hands on tillers!
In these times of economic stringency a proposed cull would have incurred cost that might best be described as subscribing to lunacy given the paucity of evidence of actual harm. I suppose the task now is to ensure that the necessary monitoring research is put in hand to gain a once and for all up to date assessment of the situation. More cost that one might question, but undoubtedly a much cheaper outcome in the end and something that raptor workers should be prepared to assist with. But, of course, don't forget, the species is still included in the list of so-called Alien Species as no statement has been made to the contrary.
Whilst there will always be subjects over which there is dissention I feel this was a good day for conservation and democracy in action. That sounds a bit "plum" but I think the outcome should serve to encourage many people that sustained polite argument can win through in the end. Now, what about these Hen Harriers!!!!