Predators on the unwary
From the window of his cosy living room at Balvraid, the house at the terminus of the road from Glenelg village, Farquhar MacBeath could once think himself the master of all he surveyed. Five hundred breeding ewes were grazing on the moorlands on the lower slopes of Beinn a’ Chapuill and the glen beneath his croft was teeming with wildlife.
That was 40 years ago. Now the scene in this beautiful corner of Wester Ross is changed utterly. Mr MacBeath’s flock is sadly depleted — down to 200 ewes — and even in summer the wooded valley below his house is eerily quiet. His flock, his livelihood, is being culled out of existence, he says, by foxes, golden eagles and sea eagles, and other natural predators that have been allowed to flourish.
Meanwhile in Suffolk Libby Purves is saying Why the sea eagle has no right to land here
This is not about returning birds to ancestral homelands — it’s a costly gimmick to promote meddling ‘conservationists’
Natural England and the RSPB want to spend more than £600,000 to introduce the birds to Suffolk (Norfolk saw off the scheme a year ago). They claim “vast” popular support — though you could doubt the validity of a sample of 500 people asked some saccharine question about whether they fancy seeing one. Enthusiasts insist that it is a “reintroduction”, on the ground that sea eagles once lived here.
They’re just showing off. An internal e-mail from Natural England, quoted on a blog, hails a “major opportunity for Natural England to lead a high- profile ‘flagship species’ project that will highlight the organisation at the forefront of a major biodiversity delivery initiative . . . There is a small risk of conflict with both socioeconomic and nature conservation interests, but these would be effectively managed by risk assessment and contingency planning . . . A thoroughly planned and well-executed public relations strategy will maximise the potential positive publicity . . .”
See? It’s a greater white-tailed gimmick. Expensive, vainglorious and typical of a growing trend in the “conservation” industry. Many of the bodies that claim that title are not preserving at all: they are fiddling, initiating, interfering. That is not conservation: it is gardening, on a large scale. Put a woodland here — oops, no, make it a heath — tell you what, let’s build a wetland and bring some classy creatures in by van. Punters will like that, pay more subs . . .