Last summer I took my 13-year-old daughter on her first demonstration – not because I thought it was time she learned how to wave placards and hold up traffic, but because she wanted to protest. Like me, she could not believe that – against both common sense and scientific advice – the government was authorising large-scale culling of Badgers. Nor could the thousands of others on that march, nor those who have continued to oppose the policy through legal channels since then, and who have recently won a minor victory against DEFRA in the High Court.
Protesting doesn’t always lead to change; sometimes it scarcely makes a difference. But it’s important to make our voices heard. If we who care don’t stand up for wildlife, who will? Earlier this year this magazine was criticised for ‘political activism’ in publishing Bill Oddie’s attack on the government’s claim to be the ‘greenest’ administration yet, but we are far from alone in advocating better policies for wildlife, at home and abroad.
Does any birder really oppose the new on-the-ground initiatives this spring that helped put the illegal slaughter of millions of migrant birds in Malta firmly back on the agenda? Of course they don’t – we are all activists, in spirit if not in deed.
More recently, there has been the dynamic attempt to tackle the illegal persecution of Hen Harriers in Britain, initiated by concerned and motivated individuals who are actually beginning to make something happen. There’s a long way to go before this issue is resolved, but it’s been a great start. Maybe something will change this time: certainly, in the 22-year lifetime of this magazine, I cannot recall a cause that so rapidly drew support from the birding public or achieved such a huge reach.
As a magazine we’re proud to be at the centre of support for the Hen Harrier campaign, and to use our voice to highlight all such issues of conservation concern.
Reproduced from the September issue of Birdwatch, on sale today