The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust has criticised RSPB after a sustained attack on pheasant shooting on BBC’s Radio 4.
Writing on the trust’s blog, chairman of trustees Jim Paice slammed the charity for ‘focusing almost entirely on the negative views of pheasant releasing’.
This comes after RSPB senior policy editor Pat Thompson was speaking on More or Less, a programme presented by the Financial Times‘s Tim Harford that sees itself as a national fact and figure checker.
Thompson complains that 47 million pheasants are released each year and only 15 million killed at shoots. He also suggests the illegal killing of birds of prey is linked to pheasant shooting, a line that has become RSPB policy but lacks proof.
Paice says this comes despite the bird charity ‘explicitly stating it’s rigorously neutral stance on the matter’. He suggested the programme could have been more balanced if some of the positive effects of pheasant shooting were included.
“I doubt many in the sporting world were left feeling their side was fairly represented,” Paice writes. “There was certainly no doubt about which side this spokesman was on. A balanced answer would have explained that pheasant releasing is intrinsically linked with associated activities like planting and managing woodlands and providing wildlife habitat on farmland such as wild bird covers.”
Paice points out that the GWCT’s scientific research is included in The Code of Good Shooting Practice and adopted by conservation organisations because of the benefits to wildlife from good game management.
“It’s hard to comprehend how the RSPB’s stated position of neutrality squares with what its staff are saying on the BBC.”
You can listen to the RSPB’s assault on the pheasant shooting community here: BBC.co.uk/programmes/p08fvs16