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The RSPB has been grossly misrepresented, says Society chief executive

Last modified: 02 November 2014

Cirl bunting singing from branch

The cirl bunting is making a comeback in the UK, thanks to wildlife-friendly farming subsidies and the RSPB's work with farmers.

Image: Andy Hay

The RSPB has come under attack from a group calling itself 'You Forgot The Birds', in a thinly veiled attempt by some shooting interests to limit RSPB's work in the wider countryside and the charity’s campaigning against wildlife crime. Mike Clarke, the RSPB's Chief Executive responds.

The RSPB is proud of its conservation work and robust financial standards. It has been grossly mis-represented and refutes all that the group claims.

We believe it is no coincidence that the group’s campaign, in the media and on the web, comes at a time when the RSPB is calling for greater controls on the environmental impacts of some game shooting activities, amid growing public concern over the illegal killing of birds of prey.  

This includes hen harriers, which have been illegally persecuted to near extinction in England as a breeding species. Only last Thursday, the RSPB published its Birdcrime 2013 report which records the wholesale illegal shooting, destruction and poisoning of eagles, harriers and red kites.

This year, the Society had its 125th anniversary, and throughout our history we have been proud of our openness and relationship with members and the public. This new campaign group appears to be unaccountable, and has anonymous financial backers for its campaign which has enlisted the services of a multi-national PR consultancy.

We have a long track record in protecting birds and wildlife. Conservation involves not just protecting nature reserves, but developing science and field testing, working with farmers and landowners to share best practice, challenging those who break the law, and fighting to protect the laws that protect our birds, wildlife and special natural places.  

This attempt to limit the RSPB’s activities to its nature reserves comes at the same time as the latest reports of bird populations released by the UK Government. These show a continuing decline in birds of the countryside, with the indicator for farmland bird populations at the lowest level ever. This demonstrates that urgent action is needed beyond the confines of nature reserves.

The RSPB adopts the highest standards in the charity sector for financial and other working practices. We publish annual accounts, which are independently audited by experts in the charity sector, and conform to all aspects required by charity regulators, including how much is spent on conservation and charitable activities. 

Read further information on the mis-representations put forward by the group.

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