Killing Cock Robin

robinrobinBack in 2004, at about this time of year, there was a small killing spree at a garden centre down the road from me that even made national news. In creating a new and fancier eatery in a refurbished outlet, Wyevale decided the rather friendly robins, who had taken to sharing the crumbs that were offered or fell from the tables of those eating there, had to go. They obtained a licence to destroy the birds, their eggs and the nest and in doing so lost hundreds of customers – some I know to this day will not shop in any Wyevale outlet.

Today, I came across a link to a consultation that ends tomorrow – so it’s too late now but thanks for the thought – on changes to the licenses in wildlife legislation in England. In part of it, it sought opinion on the necessity to obtain licences such as the one described above, and suggested a relaxation to the point that robins, pied-wagtails and starlings could be included in the general licence, meaning they could be killed, their eggs and nests destroyed, by any generally licenced operative without reference to further scrutiny. Funny how such consultations come and go without much notice… thanks to the Guardian for the nod.

Ostensibly, the change was presented as a Health and Safety need, to ensure bird nests did not become foul within ventilation ducts. My immediate reaction was bemusement that anyone would change the law when a simple mesh guard would eradicate the problem permanently – unlike this legislation which would imply a repeated pest control visit, probably every season (at least, until numbers declined to below Red List status (oh yes, surprisingly starlings are Red Listed, but that seems unimportant)).

So, being just in time I did comment, and I’ve received a confirmation my words will be heard in the decision making. I didn’t have a single iota of expectation that it would make any difference, but it wasn’t until someone pointed me at Tom Pride’s simple and erudite explanation of the reasoning for the done deal behind the consultation glamour that I really got the cloying aroma of Tory under my nose. It is of course nothing to do with hygiene at all.

Go read. Then on Thursday 22nd May, go vote. Democracy seems broken, but we have to use it or pitchforks, and they have guns.

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