Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has slammed Scottish Natural Heritage for allowing a highly controversial raven cull in Highland Perthshire.
He said the conservation body’s reputation had been left in “bloodied tatters” after it approved a licence to kill up to 300 ravens in the Strathbraan area.
The Bafta-nominated broadcaster has fired off a strongly worded missive to SNH boss Mike Cantley, urging him to scrap the licence.
Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition against the mass shooting. SNH granted the five-year permit to a group of gamekeepers and farmers, arguing it was intended to curb an “alarming” decline in other species.
In the face of growing anger, the conservation body has revealed the licence will be reviewed by its scientific advisory committee.
Packham voiced his outrage about the plans on Twitter.
He posted: “What has angered me most about @nature_scot licensing the cull of Ravens on grouse moors with histories of raptor persecution is the absolute betrayal. They are MEANT to (be) protecting wildlife not encouraging its slaughter.”
The presenter wrote to Mr Cantlay: “I’ll keep it short, I imagine you’ve had a fair few mails about this.
“If you had asked a team of the very best PR executives to come up with a plan to incinerate the last vestiges of credibility, to banish any dwindling reserves of integrity and to destroy any remaining trust between conservationists and SNH, then it’s my bet that they would have suggested this. Top work.”
He adds: “As it stands the already beleaguered reputation of SNH likes in bloodied tatters and, whilst I am not a PR person, I would suggest that to reverse this ill-judged and ruinous decision as quickly as possible would be a jolly good idea.”
What has angered me most about @nature_scot licensing the cull of Ravens on grouse moors with histories of raptor persecution is the absolute betrayal. They are MEANT to protecting wildlife not encouraging its slaughter. Please write to Mike Cantlay Chair@snh.gov.uk and ask WTF ?
— Chris Packham (@ChrisGPackham) April 25, 2018
An SNH spokesman suggested that, following objections, the decision could be reviewed.
“The limited trial at Strathbraan in Perthshire will explore whether the reduction in ravens will help curlew and other ground nesting birds to recover,” he said.
“This is about getting a balance between species, bringing back waders from the brink whilst still maintaining a healthy national population of ravens. And in getting help from the people who work on, and manage our land, to ensure a stronger future for species such as curlew and lapwing.”
He added: “SNH is confident about the rationale behind this licence. However, in recognition of the concerns, we have asked our Scientific Advisory Committee – a group of respected external experts – to review as speedily as possible how this particular case fits with the wider work on adaptive action to save waders and to report on whether the methods agreed for this trial fit with the wider body of work underway.
“We will also ensure that the committee is kept informed of the progress of the project.”