So ex-cricketer Ian Botham wants to protect hen harriers and said in an interview with the Sunday Herald that:
“If (the RSPB) really wants to help these birds, I recommend that it experiments with putting gamekeepers in charge of its reserves.”
The methods of helping the harriers, as outlined in the article by Botham, revolve around controlling predators. He mentions foxes as predators, which no doubt is true. But harrier predators may also be badgers, pine martens, stoats, weasels, crows, gulls and some other raptors. Would they also be controlled?
Botham’s concept of conservation is sadly lacking. Harriers don’t need any of these species to be controlled for their survival rate to be improved; they either just need left alone or their human predators need to be controlled. Either method would result in many more hen harriers in the UK within a few years.
I really don’t know why Botham spouts forth about conservation. He puts his foot in it every time. With the Sunday Herald article nobody with any knowledge of ecology, ecosystems or natural balance would agree with any of the guff he is quoted as spouting. I suspect he just does so to try to wind up the RSPB but it invariably makes him look a fool.
I’ve no idea how good a cricketer he was since I don’t watch cricket, but if he was good at it then that’s what he should stick with. Some gamekeepers are indeed successful in creating conservation benefits but Botham is certainly not cogent at putting forward that argument.