Blacka has been given a new Playpen
SRWT have a novel take on playpens. This one is topped with barbed wire. It could be part of their strategy to get new younger supporters having found that older people who've seen what they do aren't too happy about it. Desperate parents of tearaway kiddies could be glad of the facility.
But it's not. SRWT claim it is an exclusion area designed to be inaccessible to deer. For those who don't already know: the playpens are supposed to 'prove' that deer damage the land by their grazing. Vegetation inside the pens, where deer can't get to it, they hope will thrive; while outside all will supposedly be devastated by the wildlife baddies. All part of an SRWT agenda we’ve now got used to, one that’s determined to show that wildlife here are really rather a nuisance and to be kept down, while their often disgusting farm livestock, if you’re to believe the twisted narrative, are busy heroically transforming the land into a future Eden - and are, apparently, beautiful too compared to wild animals!
If you rarely or never go out into the countryside you can get some funny ideas about what goes on there by just reading articles in the media - and some of those ideas can be quite inaccurate. Broadcasting is no better. BBC’s Countryfile is especially prone to mislead. Put that alongside the spin and hype from the vested interests, from the shooters and hunters of the Countryside Alliance and the hard-bitten farming lobbyists to the empire builders of the conservation industry and you would be well advised to be thoroughly sceptical of anything you’re told and go out and observe for yourself. Be very wary indeed of someone who knows something’s true because it was on the telly or (the more literate ones) they’ve read (or ‘seen’) an article about it.
Take the question of the numbers of deer in the country. I'm occasionally seeing articles that can lead the reader to think there are too many deer in the country. These articles may be given added credibility by being written by those who know something about ecology and landscape etc. But the impression they can give is very misleading. Numbers of deer are put alongside numbers of sheep and cattle as being bad for the diversity of our landscape and ecosystems. especially in the hills. Well there are thousands of sheep and many cattle occupying our hills in the Peak District and England generally and their impact on the ground and the look of the landscape is enormous and has been for centuries. By comparison it's only comparatively recently that deer numbers have started to recover since most large wildlife was more or less wiped out long ago. It's just 12 years ago this week that red deer were first seen on Blacka for instance. And the impact of deer as compared to that of farm livestock is minimal. It's only in the Scottish Highlands that deer can be said to cause serious problems. And that's because they are kept in high numbers on shooting estates, encouraged in many ways including winter feeding to give wealthy people obsessed with guns something to shoot at. Outside those specific areas deer are not often seen and certainly nowhere near as much as sheep which demolish all nature within reach.
The problem is always one of management. It's intervention by man that causes the problems. Out here on the edge of Sheffield I believe there are not enough deer. If there were 'enough' deer why would they need sheep and cattle? But you can hear people saying that deer must be controlled (i.e. more opportunities for shooters) because they've seen an article or misinterpreted the message coming from those who should know better. In fact the deer numbers on Blacka have been in decline for a couple of years and that's largely due to the shooting carried out by RSPB on behalf of SMP which in turn is due to misguided attempts to manage the landscape according to questionable ideology that puts farmed heather moorland (paradise for shooters) as more important than wildness and trees on the high ground. Consequently it's not deer that are holding back the development of a more wild and natural landscape, it's the ubiquitous and boring farm livestock. Yet it's the noble and beautiful and independent wildlife that is made to suffer. And all of the time the organisations responsible are raking in charitable donations from the public under false pretences that they are helping wildlife. In truth they are persecuting it.
The narrative about too many deer has led to numerous interventions we could do without. One of the latest is SRWT's Playpen. If there's ever a chance of misinterpreting evidence to suit your own agenda and self-interest, SRWT will grasp it. But it's also a near-perfect symbol of their infantile approach; childish and manipulative and separated from the real world.
They will then use any 'evidence' they get from this project to show that deer are unwelcome and therefore something will have to be done. And what might that be?
Anyway the playpen is empty. I've been trying to think of suitable occupants. It shouldn’t be hard. And the top wire is barbed.