Ruddy conservationists!

Posted on the 3rd October 1998

Sadly, we find ourselves at odds with another influential organisation whose public reputation is one of animal protection rather than destruction.

We refer to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is advocating the virtual elimination of ruddy ducks in the UK to stop them breeding with a rare, close relative in Spain.

The result of these ‘illicit’ liaisons, says the RSPB, is an ‘impure hybrid’. We say that shooting thousands of birds in an attempt to preserve the blood purity of a related species is straightforwardly fascistic. Animal Aid has no option but to oppose the plan. We did so at the RSPB’s recent AGM and attracted enormous media interest.

Those of us concerned with the rights and welfare of animals thought we could trust conservation bodies, such as the RSPB, to make all the necessary arguments in defence of wildlife, while we concentrated on issues such as factory farming, vivisection and hunting. That’s obviously not the case. We see now that there are too many people in the conservation movement, especially those prominently placed in the more traditional organisations, whose notion of conservation is all about trying to regulate population numbers, while looking for scapegoats for the destructive vices of our own species.

Animal and plant life is under threat around the world because of human being’s reckless, greedy, polluting, all-consuming habits. Yet people are always on the lookout for an animal to take the rap. Among those currently on the Enemies List here in the UK are rabbits, foxes, Canada geese, grey squirrels, seals, gulls, magpies, pigeons, pike, badgers and the ruddy duck.

Invariably, the justification for any actual or proposed cull (i.e. mass slaughter) is that it serves a vital conservation need. Our job is to argue for a conservation that is fit for the 21st century – one that is about regulating our own behaviour, about protecting animal habitat and which shows respect for individual animals.

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