Tag Archives: crime

United in a weekend for Hen Harriers

This weekend was superb. If you went to a Hen Harrier event you’ll know what I’m on about but if not then make sure you do next year! If I were to sum it up in five words, which is difficult, they would be very inspiring, exciting, lots of motivation, fervent and uplifting.

But why am I using such positive words to describe events which are about a depressing and serious matter? Well, when you hear a lot of negative stories, including the five Hen Harriers which disappeared (yeah, OK) this year, an event like this makes you feel incredibly positive as you see so many people joined together showing their support and feeling the same as yourself. Even though I knew all of these people existed and most of the country, a part from SOME, are and would (if only they knew about what goes on) be opposed and saddened by ongoings of wildlife crime everywhere including upon the upland moors, again it was very positive to be there, see it with my own eyes, and to see that change is definitely happening and that we will win.

Whether it’s the fact many species, including raptors, are being illegally persecuted to protect ones own interest, a bird of prey is being pushed to extinction,  habitats are being damaged or the burning is having a role to play with global warming and flooding, the activity of driven grouse shooting upon upland moors needs to end. This was a key message expressed by all of the speakers at the Hen Harrier events I went too. Along with this the fact that we’re right, we’re backed by science and we deserve justice.

If you’d read a few of my latest posts, follow me on Twitter or even saw me there yourself I spent my Hen Harrier Day up at the Goyt Valley near Buxton, Derbyshire.  As well as this I went along to the Hen Harrier Eve event at The Palace Hotel in Buxton on Saturday. 

When we arrived in Buxton on Saturday afternoon, whilst walking around waiting for the evening event to start, I bumped into quite a few people who were going. Either wearing their t-shirt or I knew who they were already. We even got sat next to two ladies going to the events when we went for something to eat along with some others at our B&B the following morning. Hen Harrier supporters had taken over Buxton!

But this was great! I often see this when I go on street marches, all the people passing by take an interest by what it says on their t-shirt or placard. This also had the same effect at the Goyt Valley when walkers, runners and cyclists passed, along with at the afternoon event in the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton. I heard quite a few people passing and muttering ‘what’s with the black t-shirts’ and so on.

Once at The Palace Hotel for the Hen Harrier Eve event it was great to have a chat with some old and new faces before the talks began. Overall there were a variety of things talked about by each speaker along with a variety of speakers.

First to speak was Mark Avery who was one of the organisers and introduced the evening. He has also had a massive impact on the fight to ban driven grouse shooting with the work he’s done, including his recent book Inglorious and the ban driven grouse shooting petition he set up again this year after last years success of it reaching over 10,000 signatures. So far this year the petition has over 11,000, you can sign it by clicking here.

He was followed by the other organiser, Susan Cross, and also Gordon MacLellan who presented some literature about the Peak District and Buxton, and also included context about Hen Harriers. After this the RSPB’s skydancer video was introduced by Amanda Miller and CEO RSPB Mike Clark said a few words about their hard work on helping the Hen Harrier. It was brilliant to have two people from the RSPB talk, along with Jeff Knot (RSPB) speak at Hen Harrier Day. As well as the RSPB, Jo Smith who is the CEO Derbyshire Wildlife Trust also spoke at the Hen Harrier Day event.

Next was Mark Cocker in conversation with Jeremy Deller. Jeremy Deller is a Turner Prize winner (2004) and has produced such art work as ‘A good day for cyclists’ which shows a massive Hen Harrier clutching a blood red Range Rover in its talons. Whilst in conversation with Mark Cocker he spoke about a lot of his work, including this piece, which was very interesting.

Jeremy Deller, the artist featured in the British pavilion, had one of the most talked about installations at the Venice Biennale preview, attended by critics, curators and collectors from around the world. Photo by mary Louise Schumacher

Then after the interval Mark Cocker gave his own talk. This was about birds of prey in culture across the world with references to his book. As well as Hen Harriers.

Next to speak was Findlay Wilde who said a few words about Hen Harriers before going on to how he made two new brilliant models. One was a grouse butt and another was a massive bottle of poison. With this he showed a video mash-up of how he did so with a sound track created by his younger brother, Harley.  He also announced how he’d persuaded Ecotricity to support satellite tagging of Hen Harriers next year.

Then there was another video mash-up about the adventures of Henry the Hen Harrier around the UK which was created by Phil Walton from Birders Against Wildlife Crime. If you don’t already follow Henry on Twitter then please do at @HenryHenHarrier.

Last, but one, to speak was Chris Packham who was superb and inspiring as usual. He spoke very passionately and expressed his anger of persecution of Hen Harriers, the huge decline of wildlife, Cecil the Lion and much more.

To finish of the evening of talks, there was a quick announcement from Charlie Moores (BAWC) about the exciting arrangements of the next day, Hen Harrier Day.

As I walked up to the venue of Hen Harrier Day at 10am the Hen Harrier thunderclap went out. This reached almost 5.7 million people which was just amazing, lets hope all those people took note of what they read. The thunderclap read…

The location of Hen Harrier Day, in Buxton, was perfect. As the speakers said what they wanted to say you could gaze over onto the moorland. When they spoke you could just picture their dream, and your dream, of what they want that area to look like one day. You could visualise the aim. Along with this, at this location Hen Harriers have been spotted here in the past.

However the image of what we’d all love the upland before us to look like was somewhat shattered and taken over by what it really looked like at that moment. Not a bird in sight, it looked dead and you could see the areas where it’s been burnt for intensive driven grouse shooting. But this brought no one down, in fact it gave more motivation. Along with the inspiring and wise words from those who spoke and being surrounded by those who care immensely.

Speaking at the event was Charlie Moores, Mark Avery, Chris Packham, Jeff Knot (RSPB) and Jo Smith (The Wildlife Trust). The talks started about 11am and ended just before 1pm. Then after that many still gathered, chatted and after a while some headed down to Buxton Pavilion Gardens as there were a few stalls, along with lots of interest from people passing by.

As I’ve mentioned, and you can probably tell, it was a fantastic weekend as I’m sure were all the other events happening around the country and I look forward to next year. It feels very odd today after such an exciting weekend! But also on a more serious note, lets hope yesterday made an actual difference and this continues as we won’t be stopping until it does.

Here’s another tweet from Birders Against Wildlife Crime which sums it all up very nicely.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

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We Will Not Be Silenced

As you most likely know the general election is approaching fast, in fact just 10 days away. It is becoming very tense as the current polls are close. However it’s not just tense for us Humans, it’s also very tense for our wildlife and animals. Although they can’t vote we need to vote for them, give them the voice they need.

Unfortunately, as I’m 16, I can’t vote but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been interested in the parties manifestos, their campaigning but also the other campaigning that’s been going on. In fact, when I’ve been able to, I’ve been getting involved with the campaigns. From getting involved on social media and supporting thunderclaps to doing blog posts, writing letters to local party candidates and getting involved with protests.

One protest which caught my eye this week was the suffragette-themed march on Parliament to launch the “Votes for Animals” campaign where a variety of organisations, charities and individuals got together. They proceeded the streets of London with their striking masks, costumes and signs with their main aim of giving animals a voice and encourage the public to vote for animals on May 7th. You can read more about the Vote for Animal protest in London by clicking here.

Yesterday though was another day where I went out and helped do my part to give nature a voice. I was up nice and early as I had two trains to catch and was very excited for the day ahead. I was off to join the badger army and wildlife defenders for their march in the streets of Worcester. Once we arrived in Worcester we went for a quick coffee then headed down to St. Andrews Park where the march began. This was my second march, the last one I went on was back in February and took place on the streets of Birmingham. The one in Birmingham was more of a festival as there were more speakers and stalls, you can read more about it by clicking here. It was also brilliant to go yesterday after the Badger Trust Seminar in Bristol last weekend as it great to see some familiar faces. By 1pm there was a good crowd of a few hundred people and everyone was ready to go. There was people dressed up, plenty of signs and flags, megaphones, hats and much more. It was pretty obvious that it was going to be a successful protest.

But before we could begin addressing the streets of Worcester there was three speeches. First was the main organiser, Chris Swan, who spoke about the fact that there is still the worry of badgers being culled, the threat badgers face and also read out a poem about badger persecution which had been wrote a hundred years ago but in many ways applies to today’s world. The second to speak was Lynn Sawyer who has done inspirational work over the past 12 months which resulted in 100’s of badgers life’s saved. She spoke about the fantastic work of hunt and cull saboteurs, the importance of looking out for local setts and read a book extract about the fact that Btb travels on the feet of those horses, humans and hounds. Then before the march began Nigel Tolley spoke. He is a very active member of badger army and a great wildlife activist. He spoke about the fact that even if the cull does stop, depending on who gets into power on May 7th, there is still the major problem of badger persecution. He stated that over 2000 badgers are killed every month throughout the UK which is well over the amount killed in the culls. He also spoke about how we need to encourage people to go out, recognise and report wildlife crime.

After these two talks the march was raring to go. There was a set route through Worcester, which we followed. Everyone was shouting either ‘Save our Badgers, Stop the Cull’ or ‘Save our Badgers, Tories out’. It was such a brilliant atmosphere, everyone was so passionate and determined to get the message across. Signs and flags were high in the air, leaflets were being handed out and stuck everywhere, and the shouting echoed down the high street. There was no doubt that we were making our mark and spreading the message. We then stopped outside of the Guild Hall where three more people spoke. The first was the Labour candidate for the area, then the Green candidate. They both spoke about the policies of their party. One of the common policies was putting a stop to the barbaric unscientific badger cull.

Before getting started again Dominic Dyer, wildlife campaigner, gave a speech. Over the past few months I’ve heard him talk a number of times and what he says is always very inspirational. He stood up on a park bench with a megaphone and spoke about a number of issues. From the badger cull to wildlife crime. He also stated that we will not be silenced.

As I heard a few times yesterday, to be able to protest in Worcester yesterday it took a lot of hard work from the organisers. This is partly due to the election approaching and in different ways it’s jeopardising the chance for parties to win seats because the badger cull, and wildlife crime, is among a key issue for many politicians.

We were then back to the protest through the high street in Worcester, feeling more passionate and enthused after more inspirational speeches. On our way back to St. Andrews Park we passed the Lush store in Worcester which had a few signs outside and their window display was about the ‘Votes for Animals’ campaign. This was another great feature to the protest.

Once back at St.Andrews Park all those on the protest stood together for a photo. It made a fantastic photo as it showed everyone’s passion and willingness to be there. Then with the outfits, masks, hats and signs it showed what we all stood for.

Here are a few photos from the day.

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Badger Trust Seminar 2015

After collecting my trail camera I was thrilled to see that not only had I filmed the adult badgers but I had also filmed badger cubs for the first time this year! I set my camera up near the sett last Saturday and there was no sign of cubs so this was obviously one of the first times they had emerged from the sett. I was thrilled with the footage, It was fantastic to see the natural behaviour of badger cubs exiting the sett for one of the first times. I filmed a variety of activity from cubs playing, the adults having a good scratch and one of the adults dragging one of the cubs back in to the sett by the scruff of its neck. Here’s one of the clips, I’ll be doing a blog post with more later on in the week.

I didn’t have that much time to look through as I had a long journey ahead of me to the Badger Trust Seminar in Bristol. As I was eager to go and my parents were working I managed to get a lift from a member of the South Derbyshire Badger Group which was great and I was so pleased I went! There was a prompt start at 11 for the AGM then after lunch the afternoon of debates began.

First debate – The Badger Cull

The first debate was on the badger cull. Sat on the panel was Professor John Bourne, the Chairman of Independent Scientific Group, Roger Blowey, Livestock Vet, John Blackwell, President of British Veterinary Association and Mark Jones, Vet and Wildlife Protection Campaigner. As you can see, from the variation of panel members, it was very interesting and resulted in a fantastic debate with a mixture of discussion from the panel and comments from the audience. This debate was very important as it’s not very often you get people like this together. Before comments from the floor the members of the panel introduced themselves and give a small introduction then Dominic Dyer, Badger Trust CEO, asked them a question on what they had said.

However before long this got a bit out of hand and the debate became very intense. For me it was a great experience and to hear so many people express their opinion in such a strong way, against the cull, was truly inspiring. Also the fact that they weren’t afraid to speak out against those on the panel which are in favour of the cull.

The first to speak was John Blackwell, President of British Veterinary Association. This was interesting as the British Veterinary Association had released their statement on the badger cull just a few days before the Seminar. In the statement they had made a U-turn from their original idea which was culling free running badgers was the way to go. Instead, in their latest statement, they stated that the pilot culls should continue but badgers should be caught in cages before shot as they believe it’s a ‘humane and effective’ way.

This was then followed by Roger Blowey, a recently retired Livestock Vet and author of report on the possible impact of culling lowering TB rates in cattle. I’ve read comments from him in many articles stating the fact that he believes ‘the culling of badgers in the county is the only reason why farmers are now testing negative for bovine TB for the first time in a decade’. Roger Blowey made many more comments and suggestions like this one throughout his introduction and in the debate.

Without a doubt, this fired the debate up. Many people in the audience got involved which was timed nicely with the great introduction from Professor John Bourne. It was obvious he knew what he was talking about as he destroyed any scientific, economic or animal welfare justification for the current badger cull policy. He went into great detail, along with giving examples from other countries, that the negligence and deceit within the Government, Farming and Veterinary Industry has led to the demonisation of badgers for spreading bTB when all the evidence points to poor bTb testing and cattle controls as a key factor for the increase in Btb. He also stated how millions of pounds has been wasted, wildlife destroyed and how farmers and tax payers have been let down by a disastrous bTb reduction policy which has focused on badgers far too much.

The last one to speak was Mark Jones who is a vet and wildlife protection campaigner. His introduction went through different reasons why the cull isn’t and won’t work. He presented his points in a very organised way and put his points across clearly. He also made the very valid points on how badger persecution is rising which is no doubt related to the badger cull.

Overall it was an extremely interesting and tense afternoon, I was very pleased to be there. Obviously, as you all know, I’m against the cull, full stop. So being there during the debate was a fantastic experience. The atmosphere was incredible and I felt privileged to be surrounded by people that care so passionately. Going to an event like this makes me realise, more so, why I am against the cull and makes me more determined to help do my bit to rule it out and resort to other ways to reduce bTb.

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Second debate – Wildlife Crime

The afternoon didn’t stop there though as there was another debate which was on wildlife crime. I must say, this debate wasn’t as intense but it was still very interesting. The panel was chaired by the new Badger Trust chairman, Peter Martin, and on the panel was Charlie Moores, Birders Against Wildlife Crime, Tom Quinn, Director of Campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, Pauline Kidner, Founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue and Lee Bainbridge who is the wildlife Crime Officer from the area.

Starting it off was Charlie Moores who is the Chair of Birders Against Wildlife Crime. He gave a summary about what BAWC is about, his views on wildlife crime and tackling wildlife crime. Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a campaign group which was set up last year by a group of experienced birders and conservationists who are sick of the number of crimes being committed against wildlife. I went along to BAWC’s first conference a few weeks back which was a fantastic day and you can read more about it by clicking here.

This was followed by Tom Quinn who is the director of campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports. He spoke about how reducing wildlife crime is a massive priority for The League, wildlife crimes including fox hunting and badger persecution, increased promotion of wildlife crime on social media, how the badger cull is having an impact on badger persecution and how wildlife crime data is uncoordinated and underfunded. He also spoke about the work The League do and convicting the wildlife criminals.

For this debate, most likely due to the fact that we all had mutual feelings, it was more organised and the speakers had the chance to speak before the debate. Next up was the wildlife crime officer for Avon and Somerset, Lee Bainbridge. She spoke about reporting wildlife crime, the role and increase of wildlife crime officers and how the training is improving. I think the talk from Lee Bainbridge could relate to most of us as if you’re one for being outdoors and observing wildlife you come across wildlife crimes. I came across one which had been committed at a badgers sett last year and got in touch with my local wildlife crime officer and the Badger Trust. Fortunately the result was very good.

Before the audience could ask questions there was one more talk which was from the Founder of Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Pauline Kidner. She spoke about the increase of injured badgers which is linked to the cull, wildlife traps and snares and reporting and recording wildlife crime. Another thing she spoke about was something that she believes is important that we need to do to help tackle wildlife crime and that is by starting with educating the youth. I was pleased she brought this up as it’s a subject which is also very important to me.

When I go to school I’m surrounded by young people that have no idea about the ongoings in our countryside. This is partly to do with things like technology which have taken over. If young children aren’t able to go out and engage with the outdoors from a young age and learn about it when they grow up then how are they supposed to be able to report wildlife crime, help protect species and habitats, and most of all put their opinion across on what they think should be going on in the countryside and to our wildlife, without being brainwashed.

This debate was different to the one on the badger cull as everyone on the panel had mutual feelings. However there was a lot of discussion about the problems with reporting wildlife crimes and how it isn’t being taken seriously enough. There was also a discussion about fox hunting and the illegal on goings which aren’t dealt with.

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After a fantastic day it was finished perfectly with a talk from the actor and animal ambassador, Peter Egan. He gave his comment from the discussions which had gone on and read out a very inspirational poem about Moon Bears.