If you live in the Dark Peak constituencies or Derbyshire areas please feel free to use this letter or parts of it as a template for your own letter to your MP.
Dear [your MP],
I am a constituent of yours and I signed the e-petition on the parliament website entitled Ban Driven Grouse Shooting https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003 That e-petition has passed 100,000 signatures and therefore is expected to receive a debate in Westminster Hall some time later than the 9th of October. In our constituency of [your constituency] [No. of signatures in your area] people have supported this e-petition http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=125003
You may or may not be aware of the issues surrounding the hobby of driven grouse shooting, but the Dark Peak area of the Peak District has for the last 5 years been subject of a multi-agency project to increase the numbers of birds of prey in the Dark Peak area, following concerns about declining populations of several birds of prey, reported instances of known or suspected illegal persecution and the failure of nest protection schemes to maintain bird of prey populations. You can read the summary of the 5 years of bird of prey initiative at http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/655771/PDNP-Birds-of-Prey-Report-2012-15.pdf
The overall message is that bird of prey numbers failed to increase (in some cases decreased), this despite birds being observed present and displaying breeding behaviour every year during the project these birds somehow never manage to successfully breed and seemingly disappear, this in comparison to the White Peak areas where the same species are breeding successfully and increasing in number.
Discovering evidence of raptor persecution in vast unpopulated areas of upland is extremely difficult, yet during the initiative period there have been several incidents of raptor persecution discovered and publicised.
2 Common Buzzard found dead, investigations showed these 2 birds where shot
1 Common Buzzard found in a Fenn Trap, this bird had to be euthanised
1 Osprey found alive but subsequently died due to injuries consistent with being caught in a Fenn Trap
1 Goshawk failed at nesting with a shotgun cartridge wadding found under the nest tree, and shot feathers recovered by local raptor workers.
1 Goshawk nest robbery recorded by RSPB investigations covert camera.
1 Goshawk nest shot in the darkness recorded by RSPB investigations covert camera.
2 Goshawk nests under covert protection failed in very suspicious circumstances (both in similar circumstances).
In addition to the above, there has been a widely reported incident of an armed individual on moorland in the Dark Peak with a decoy Hen Harrier, although the police were unable to substantiate who the individual was or what exactly he was doing, the shooting tenant had his lease ended early by the landowner (The National Trust).
Raptor persecution is just one of the issues linked with driven grouse shooting and there are many others which should be considered; Damage to important and protected habitats, water quality issues which increases the cost of water for everyone. Also the use of lead ammunition, a known poison removed from many of uses but strangely allowed to be used to kill something that people (and wildlife) can and will eat, studies show that the lead content even after removal of visible lead using x-ray can be hundreds of times the levels that would be allowed for other meat types. Despite the findings of a government commissioned report that was so 'inconvenient', the results were completely ignored. Anyone would think that if you have enough money you don’t have to abide by the same rules as the rest of society, wouldn’t you agree?
It is hard to see how Driven Grouse Shooting will manage to make the changes required to make it a sustainable and viable hobby, when it can’t accept the vast evidence against the use of lead, remember lead was removed from water pipes, petrol, paint, fishing weights etc. There are widely used and viable alternatives available and yet we have seen all that evidence ignored completely, why is that? To assist a few individuals who found it all just a little bit too inconvenient.
If all of this wasn’t enough, this is all taking place within a National Park on protected landscapes such as those with SPA, SAC, SSSI designations.
Nationally the Hen Harrier is on the verge of extinction in England due to illegal persecution, as reported in the governments own paper “A future for the Hen Harrier in England?” http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/81030
Please note the “?” at the end of the title! There is suitable habitat to support around 300 pairs of Hen Harrier in England, 2016 sees just 3 reported nesting attempts.
There have only been 3 successful Hen Harrier’s nesting attempts in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District, in recent times, of these 3 nests two were only successful due to human intervention providing supplementary feeding after the male birds disappeared, a phenomena that occurs almost entirely, only, on grouse moors, such areas are largely devoid of other predators due to the management, strange that wouldn’t you agree?
Peregrine Falcons were subject of a national survey in 2014. Overall, the survey provides a strong message that Peregrines are faring better in urban and other lowland situations than in the uplands. Studies show that Peregrine Falcons are far less likely to be successful in areas managed for driven grouse shooting. The Peak District Bird of Prey Initiative reflects these issues and with the highly successful populations in neighbouring areas it is very difficult to attribute these huge discrepancies to anything other than illegal persecution, particularly in light of the recorded persecution incidents for other larger raptor species.
I hope that when the date of the debate is determined you will be able to attend the debate – would it be your intention to do so?
I hope that when the debate occurs you might feel able to represent my views in that debate. I want to see stronger regulation of driven grouse shooting and changes in the way our hills are managed. Do you think you would be able to speak on that subject?
I would be grateful for your response and the opportunity to brief you on the subject if you are planning to attend the debate.
[your name & address]