Het ‘Actieplan Weidevogels Groningen’ bevat slecht nieuws voor Groninger roofvogels
De Takkeling , Volume 27 - Issue 3 p. 271- 283
The ongoing decline in the numbers of breeding meadowbirds in The Netherlands is mainly driven by changes in agricultural grassland management. Several parties, however, keep claiming that a high level of predation is responsible for this ongoing decline. These parties often argue that predators are ‘too numerous’ and that predator control must be intensified. Views of such parties are mirrored in an Action Plan for breeding meadowbirds in the Province of Groningen which was released on 28 May 2018 (Terwan 2018). Conservation groups and nature managers such as Avifauna Groningen, Vogelbescherming Nederland, Natuurmonumenten and the State Forestry Service, as well as the local game shooting clubs and the regional division of the Dutch Federation of Agricultural and Horticultural Organisations are among the twelve parties that have signed the Action Plan. These parties have committed themselves to collectively undertake and promote the proposed measures. The text of the Action Plan can be interpreted in various ways, especially when taking into account the veiled language used when dealing with predation. Also the frequency with which terms are used is illuminating: predation (38x) and predator (24x), for example, much more frequently than biodiversity (7x). The Action Plan states several times that predator control must be intensified. The local game shooting clubs intend to register all potential predators in their fields (including several species of raptors, i.e. being predators of meadowbirds). Managers of nature reserves have complied with providing local game shooting clubs with inventories of predators in their reserves (ditto surveys of breeding raptors by local raptor groups). Carrion Crow Corvus corone is listed as a predator of which persecution should be intensified (killing them throughout the year is legal in The Netherlands, including destroying their nests). Parties supporting this view use the Action Plan to argue that crow traps should be provided in areas with breeding meadowbirds. Enquiries about by-catches of crow traps used in the recent past in the northern part of The Netherlands revealed that these were not registered (although mandatory). Parties in favour of predator control exploit the Action Plan to argue that nests of Buzzards must be removed from areas which are important for breeding meadowbirds. These parties also use the Action Plan to start a debate about a ceiling in the number of harriers allowed to breed in Groningen (3-4 species of harriers are currently breeding in Groningen, though in small numbers). We fear that the Action Plan will further increase illegal persecution of raptors in Groningen.
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