THERE has been a backlash to the news that the Duke of Cambridge has agreed to become patron of the BTO in succession to his grandfather, Prince Philip.
Describing the news as "very exciting", the BTO issued the statement below.
"The patronage reflects the close alignment between two of The Duke of Cambridge’s long-standing areas of interest - supporting communities to protect their natural environment for future generations and helping children and young people to build their skills, confidence and aspirations.
"These are areas where the BTO is doing a growing body of work.
"With the support of His Royal Highness, the BTO wants to deliver the benefits of public participation in science through nature to many people, including those communities that have traditionally been under-represented."
But despite the "excitement" of the BTO hierarchy, many in the birding community - including its own members - are dismayed.
This is because of the Duke's longstanding enthusiasm for shooting grouse and other gamebirds - in keeping with a longstanding Royal tradition.
By close of play today, the BTO's Facebook page had received more than 350 complaints such as these below.
Kate Willis: "Another grouse shooter that kills for fun and takes his young son along to watch."
Shona Magill: "OMG Has the BTO lost the plot?"
Stuart Foster: " I can't think anyone less fitting for this. He takes his son shooting for goodness sake!"
Honor Wheeler: "I was considering joining this organisation, but, alas, with royals as patrons, I'm no longer interested."
Stuart Keen: "Oh dear, the BTO have just put a serious dent in their credibility."
Sid Durruti: "I've donated to the BTO over the years. No more."
Andrew Huyton: "I think I'll be cancelling my membership unless HRH denounces grouse shooting at the very least."
Brett Skerry: "Like making Mr Fox patron of chickens."
The BTO has not responded to the protests.
Before the brouhaha erupted, its chief executive Dr Andy Clements, said: "I am delighted that The Duke of Cambridge has become our patron, following on from his grandfather who worked so tirelessly on our behalf.
"We hope that we will be able to support the Duke's strong interest in protecting the environment through our evidence-based work around environmental issues in the UK."