Shooting must make friends, not enemies

9 thoughts on “Shooting must make friends, not enemies”

  1. Would you agree that things are heading a bad direction? Maybe I spend too much time on Twitter, but it just feels like each ‘side’ is becoming increasingly mis-characterised. Everyone’s on the defensive, digging themselves into a corner. Does online connected-ness exacerbate this behaviour, or merely illuminate it?

    I think that bad and illegal practices are simply a ‘necessary’ response to the difficulty of making a living from land-based activities. This is probably the case across the board, from cereal growers to dairy farmers to grouse keepers. Gamekeepers are clearly beneficial to certain species, and I think they will be an important part of any ‘rewilding’ vision – who else will play the wolf?

    We need more trust.

    1. Thanks Tom,
      Too much time on Twitter can twist reality out of all proportion! Holding to account is one thing – hijacking an issue for polemic purposes is another (I get grief from all when I refer to ‘extremists’ of any hue – but we must call those ‘out’ that wallow in the conflict in order to move things forward).
      I said publicly (on panels at the Royal Welsh and Game Fair), let’s be braver in relearning our ability to hold robust uncomfortable conversations without being offended – in a quest to agree some pretty obvious common ground, while arguing the differences in seeking better outcomes.
      As you say, trust is required and that is in short supply at the mo while some, addicted to the fight, chase short term twitter RTs rather than engage in long term solutions – often only possible outside the glare of social media.
      Onwards – sitting on a barbed wire fence!

  2. Consensus and cooperation are vital, or all will ultimately be lost.
    I have watched and been involved in many different areas where the differing parties have become entrenched in their own mindset, yet failed to recognise the silent majority who are more reasonable. The result is that the headline grabbers win and common sense and reasonableness is lost in the mire. That majority does not wish, or aspire, to engaging in the argument, but they have an effect en-masse.
    It is imperative we get the broader message across that conservation is at it’s [shooting’s] heart.

  3. I recently attended a Mammal Society Course. Of the 5 attendees, I was the only person permanently employed in wildlife conservation (as a farm conservation adviser), the others being volunteers who were looking to become ecologists or conservation workers.
    I was dismayed to hear the attitudes and beliefs of the majority of my course colleagues in relation to livestock farming. Their knowledge of agriculture was almost non-existent and they held pretty extreme views on dairy farming which appeared to have come solely from vegan propaganda films on the internet such as Cow-spiracy. In a heated discussion about dairy farming, I pointed out that I had worked on a dairy farm and worked with farmers daily and would prefer to base my views on that rather than via virtual reality. Of course people are entitled to their beliefs but how can you hope to work positively for wildlife conservation without any knowledge of the land use that makes up 70% of our countryside? I dared not mention country sports; I think I would have been flayed alive whilst trying to eat my bacon sandwich.
    This growing disconnect between food and land use, never mind shooting, is bad news for all of us trying to improve wildlife numbers.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by vegan propaganda. Conservationists need to have an open mind and discuss a range of view points. There is often no correct answer as there are always trade-offs. Traditionally conservation and biodiversity has lost out. Arguably in order to achieve Aichi ( targets and SDGs, it’s time that farming and land use will have to make larger sacrifices.

    2. “In a heated discussion about dairy farming, I pointed out that I had worked on a dairy farm and worked with farmers daily and would prefer to base my views on that rather than via virtual reality.”

      I prefer to base my opinions on scientific evidence, which points towards a 60% decline in our wildlife and much of our countryside being simply an over farmed wet desert.

  4. Dear Mr Yorke,
    I was very interested in your blog. I wondered if you were aware of the new research project on the social impact of game shooting that is due to start this autumn?
    If you would like details of the study, which is intended to develop new evidence about how the people involved in shooting (beaters, pickers up, drivers, etc, as well as the guns) benefit from the sport, please let me know.
    Professor Simon Denny

  5. The truth is, social media and the internet age has exposed many of the completely archaic, environmentally destructive practices that take place by self appointed ‘custodians of the countryside’, who quite often are the complete opposite. Attempts to piggyback the conservation work the RSPB does, via controlled, scientifcally based culling, is a moot point; areas like grouse moors are profit driven and put biodiversity last on their priority list, so let’s stop pretending otherwise. The anecdotal and circumstantial evidence for rapture persecution, as well as hen harriers being on the verge of extinction in England, is simply too heavy to ignore. This situation isn’t helped by disgusting pro shoot funded lobby groups like ‘You Forgot The Birds’, who are in the business of smear and disinformation and will not budge an inch. In other words, whilst you call for ‘unity’, the people in control of making actual meaningful changes are completely unprepared to do so. Visit Chris Packham’s twitter some time and read the torrent of abuse he gets from the pro hunt lobby and then you might see what environmentalists are up against.

  6. Three easy ways for “shooting” to begin to “make friends”; 1. Organise boycotts of shoots where illegal predator killing occurs, 2. Fund shooting-related law enforcement (police time, surveillance, tracking etc), 3. Address ecological, ethical and economic concerns regarding shooting. Any views on why shooters don’t currently do any of these seemingly obvious things?

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