Wildlife chief cries foul over planned ‘buzzard barbarism’


Government agency Natural England has licensed the destruction of the eggs and nests of buzzards to protect a pheasant shoot and poultry farm.

The licences were issued to landowners in Northumberland and Cornwall last month and nests were subsequently removed and birds taken into captivity.

The decision comes a year after Defra halted plans to spend up to £375,000 researching ways to keep buzzards from targeting captive-reared pheasants following a public outcry.

At the time, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s chief executive Mike Pratt said: “After years of persecution, people have welcomed the return of the buzzard to our countryside.”

He is outraged by the recent decision and said: “It’s buzzard barbarism. Once more we are seeing nature sacrificed for short-term economic gain – in this case to the landowners who sell pheasant shooting and poultry. This stance is increasingly unacceptable as our natural capital continues to be eroded as we saw in the State Of Nature report this week, how can this help?”

“These licences are a step backwards. Defra should focus on designating Marine Conservation Zones and on work to restore our natural capital for the benefit of future generations.

“It should not allow itself to be distracted by a few loud voices that see our wildlife as being in the way.

“Buzzards are beautiful birds whose numbers have now recovered after years of past persecution.”

Natural England defends its decision saying that there will be no impact on the conservation status of the bird in both areas. But Mike said: “That is not the point at all, they are protected species, until recently in decline, and should not be controlled.”