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Hopefully Common Buzzard will now be free to continue its expansion into its historical range, now the DEFRA dogs have been called off. Photo: Oliver Wolters (
Hopefully Common Buzzard will now be free to continue its expansion into its historical range, now the DEFRA dogs have been called off. Photo: Oliver Wolters ( image

Government U-turn on buzzards

Posted on: 30 May 2012

Public outrage at the proposals for DEFRA to spend public money on spurious research into Common Buzzard control has forced the Wildlife Minister to back down.

Birdwatch was proud to have been involved in the early breaking of the story, which quickly spread across public forums, the birding blogosphere, conservation organisations and the entire media, causing almost universal disbelief and protest. The projected licensing of the destruction of buzzard nests by shotgun or pole, and the removal of adult buzzards potentially into falconry, was quite rightly seen as counter-conservation and unscientific, and quite probably favouring the minority interests of the field sports industry over the natural heritage of Britain as a whole.

Richard Benyon, DEFRA's Wildlife Minister, has now publicly announced the dropping of the proposals, which almost certainly represented a conflict of interest as well as the preventable misspending of government money.

In an RSPB press release, their conservation director, Martin Harper, said: “We’re pleased the minister has listened to people’s concerns and acted in the public interest by cancelling this project. This is a strong decision, reflecting the strength of the nation’s desire to see government protecting precious wildlife.

“The recovery of Common Buzzard is being celebrated by the public after many decades of persecution. It is clear they don’t want their taxes being spent on removing buzzards and the government has to ensure that no bird of prey will be killed in the name of sport.

“We don’t want anything to distract DEFRA from the pressing task of saving our threatened wildlife. It should be putting its limited resources into areas such as preventing the extinction of hen harriers in England. Government-backed research has already concluded that illegal persecution is limiting the populations of Golden Eagle and Hen Harrier. The RSPB believes there are well-tried non-lethal solutions to reducing impacts of buzzards at pheasant pens.”

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