Target: Wildlife Minister Richard Benyon
Goal: Make it a criminal offense to be in possession of the pesticide carbofuran, a poison used to kill birds of prey
Six years ago, legislators outlawed the possession of poisons used to kill birds of prey in the United Kingdom. However, the order listing which poisons were illegal was never actually implemented. Between 2002 and 2011, 633 cases were reported of birds of prey being poisoned, including 109 red kites, 6 white-tailed eagles (which were previously near extinction), 13 red-listed golden eagles, and an unknown number of peregrine falcons. In a full half of those cases, the chemical carbofuran was found to have been used. One grain of the chemical is enough to kill a large bird, according to one member of Parliament, who went on to say, “A gamekeeper who was convicted of poisoning birds of prey in Skibo, Scotland, in 2011, was found to possess 10 kilos of carbofuran, sufficient to kill every bird of prey in the UK.”
Despite this, Wildlife Minister Richard Benyon recently refused to make possession of carbofuran a criminal offense when requested to by senior members of Parliament. He reasons that it’s already an offense to poison birds of prey, and that it need not be worried about. Many, however, know Benyon as “the gamekeeper’s friend.” His links to the shooting lobby are well-known, despite being Wildlife Minister, and is accused of protecting his friends’ interests. Carbofuran has no legitimate use in any field, and his refusal to outlaw it only serves as evidence of these accusations.
Richard Benyon is not only suspected of being the reason that prosecution of a shooting estate responsible for damaging protected habitat was dropped, but has already been the source of criticism when he approved a research project that allowed buzzards’ nests to be destroyed with shotguns – earning him the title of “The Bird-Brained Minister.” Demand that not only possession of carbofuran be made a criminal offense, but that vicarious liability policies be put into effect so that landowners are made responsible when hiring gamekeepers who illegally kill birds of prey.
Dear Mr. Benyon,
You recently refused the proposal by members of Parliament to make it a criminal offense to be in possession of the chemical carbofuran. Despite having absolutely no legitimate use as a chemical, and it being illegal to poison birds of prey, 50% of the 633 incidents recorded between 2002 and 2011 involved the use of carbofuran. Clearly, there needs to be greater accountability for those in possession and stricter enforcement of anti-poisoning laws. The very fact that the Wildlife Minister would decline this proposal, even in light of the overwhelming data, is ludicrous.
Your reputation as a friend to the shooting lobby is already well-known, and you can no longer continue to ignore the issues which are your responsibility to rectify. There will begin to be consequences, and it is necessary that you take the appropriate action as called for by your position. Please, end this charade and make it a criminal offense to be in possession of the chemical carbofuran. Furthermore, you should enact vicarious liability laws in order to ensure that these laws are enforced.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: DaveKav via Flickr