Today we saw Buzzards soaring over Bridge again, and while the Buzzards have become something of a familiar sight in this area, we must never take them for granted because there are those in our community who would slaughter these birds if they could, even though they are protected by law.
Natural England is the government’s advisory body which oversees and licences action for matters of Nature across England. They will licence the culling of protected wildlife under certain specific circumstances; usually only if the wildlife is causing serious damage. They reported just last month that they had turned down a licencing application for a gamekeeper who wanted to kill ten Buzzards in his local area because they were (he said) killing his young pheasants, so that there were less for his clients to shoot. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation apparently supported this man’s application. The gamekeeper was not named, and the area was not specified. However, if not this area, it could very easily have been, for here we have both Buzzards and apparently thriving pheasant shoots.
To begin with, it is disappointing that there are so many people in Britain who wish to gratify themselves by shooting pheasants bred for the purpose: as if humanity isn’t doing enough killing and destruction in the world, without making an entertainment out of it. Secondly there is a certain rather sick irony in the idea that a gamekeeper should want to kill wild Buzzards, who are only feeding themselves, in order that he has more live birds for his customers to kill for amusement, and of course his own financial profit. That there exists an organisation which actually supports such people is beyond bemusement.
The last few years have seen good growth in the population of wild Buzzards, causing several similar applications from gamekeepers who want to kill them: to our knowledge, all have been turned down by Natural England.