Russian hunters in the Russian Arctic are shooting Britain’s smallest swan; the Bewick’s swan. Their numbers have declined by about 33% since 1995. Around 2,000 birds winter in Britain.
Julia Newth of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust said that they had x-rayed live birds and noticed that they were carrying shot. She said that there is a very high prevalence of shot in the birds at around 33%. Obviously no birds should be carrying shot inside them.
So Julia went to the Russian Arctic with colleagues to find out what was going on. She interviewed Russian hunters and published her study in the Conservation Science and Practice journal.
Her findings were that only 14% of hunters could distinguish Bewick swans from their more common cousins. Bewick swans have a 180 cm wingspan compared to 220 cm for the more common birds.
Hunters should be able to distinguish between the two but most of the 232 hunters interviewed for the survey admitted to having accidentally shot at the smaller swans despite knowing that it was illegal to do so.
Bewick’s swans arrive in the UK in mid-October after breeding in Siberia. They spend the winter here in our comparatively warm climate, before departing in March.RSPB
Comment: the study confirms once again that hunters really do not have a great concern for conservation despite what they say. They are concerned about killing and shooting animals but lack the commitment and concern to distinguish between protected and unprotected species. This is my honestly held belief having read a lot about conservation over the years. In general they ride roughshod over conservation efforts because, in general, they lack adequate concern for wildlife.