GE2015 Day Three: Badgers and Witney March

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

Today’s blog is slightly different to the last two as I would of done a blog today anyway about the march I went on in David Cameron’s constituency, Witney, yesterday. But as I don’t want to go out of sink with my General Election blogs I’ve decided to do this one about badger persecution and the cull, then include the march I went on in Witney yesterday.

In the UK badgers are one of the most protected species under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 however they are the most persecuted. Since the badger cull was rolled out this has brought all sorts of problems for badgers, for example an increased number of cruelty against them. Every month around 2000 badgers are illegally killed. This includes petrol being poured down setts, snares, dog fighting, glass being put down setts and many more disgusting acts. What makes it worse though is the cull which has been rolled out over the past two years, which has led to an increase in badger persecution, doesn’t even work. Even though badgers have always been a victim to wildlife crime, over the past few years, due to the cull, hundreds and thousands of badgers have been slaughtered and targeted by cruelty.

The badger cull is a very controversial subject. Some think it is humane and effective yet many others disagree with this and believe that it is barbaric, inhumane and inefficient. This is a mixture of a political and scientific debate. There are lots of reasons behind why the badger cull won’t work, I’m not going to go into detail on this post but you can read previous posts where I have spoken about why it won’t work or follow this link to the Badgergate website where Chris Cheeseman explains all – http://www.badgergate.org/guest-articles/why-a-badger-cull-wont-work/

As I just mentioned, a lot of people disagree with cull. So much so that over the past 18 months 30 marches have brought thousands of people from all round the country together to protest against it. Yesterday I went along to the last march before the General Election on Thursday. This wasn’t as such a badger march but it was a march to show how much we care about wildlife and how much it matters. The march took place in Witney, Oxfordshire. This is David Cameron’s constituency and is a Conservative strong hold. Unfortunately even though we’d invited Mr Cameron he didn’t come along but other parties also hoping to represent Witney did. This was the Green Party candidate, Stuart Macdonald, and the Labour candidate, Duncan Enright.

For 1pm everyone on the march met in the town centre. Photos were taken of the banners, placards and supporters, and it was good to catch up with some familiar faces and also meet some new people too. Once we were all ready we set off down the high street. Overall there was probably about 100 people. Even though there wasn’t as many as in Worcester the week before we all made some noise and held our banners and placards high. Whilst making our way through the town we definitely got plenty of attention as it was a busy Saturday afternoon so there were lots of people about. Again it was a great feeling to be surrounded by these people and it was a fantastic atmosphere. I went on my first march a few months back and since then I have tried not to miss any as they are so great to go on. Even though they are good to go on I hope yesterday’s was my last, depending on what happens on Thursday.

After we’d made our way through the town we ended up on Witney Green where we gathered round and listened to the speakers. First to talk was Lynn Sawyer. She spoke last week in Worcester and as I mentioned then she’s done some fantastic work. She spoke about the badger cull and how we should be looking out for setts, no matter what happens on Thursday, hunt monitors, the Heythrop Hunt and their disgusting ongoings, setts being badly affected by hunts, strengthening the hunting act and much more. After Lynn’s talk, the Green Party and Labour Party representatives spoke about their polices linking to animal welfare and the cull. It was quite funny as these were all great representatives and it shows that even in a Tory strong hold like Witney, Cameron has parties fighting against him.

Next to talk was Dominic Dyer. I’ve heard him speak many times over the past few months, including in Worcester last week. He is a brilliant wildlife campaigner and activist who always speaks very passionately and about a number of key issues facing our wildlife in the UK, and gave some examples from abroad too. Last to speak was Nigel Tolley who read out a letter which we were about to post through Cameron’s door. The letter had been written by the organiser, Emily Lawrence. In the letter she stated issues like the badger cull and hunting. This letter was to be poster to Cameron because over the past five years he rolled out a two year badger cull, hasn’t done anything for our wildlife and threatens to roll out the badger cull to more areas and repeal the hunting act if he gets into power again next Friday. This was a reason why the march took place in Witney.

So we all headed back down into the main town centre with the banners and placards held high again, and the shouting echoing down the high street to Mr Cameron’s office. As I mentioned before, unfortunately he wasn’t in but we gathered round outside, the letter was posted and photos were taken too.

Here are a few photos from the day

IMG_1432

Dominic Dyer speaking

unnamed

Myself, the organiser Emily (in the badger suit), and fellow young blogger, Alex.

IMG_1443

Gathering round David Cameron’s office door

IMG_1427

Lynn Sawyer speaking

IMG_1419

IMG_1405

badger march

Myself with the placard I made

unnamed (5)

unnamed (7)

unnamed (8)

Outside David Cameron’s office

unnamed (9)

GE2015 Day Two: Snares

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

Unfortunately there are many ways that people have the opportunity to persecute and discriminate the wildlife in our countryside, whether it be legal or illegal. This doesn’t just happen in the UK though, it happens all over the world. You would think a terrible device, which can chew through the limbs and bones of those animals which get caught in them, would be illegal. However that isn’t the case, free running snares are legal while self-locking snares are illegal. A free running snare is supposed to slacken when the animal stops struggling, while a self-locking snare can only become tighter. However, these terms are not clearly defined and a rusted, kinked, or knotted snare quickly becomes self-locking. Either way they cause extreme suffering to animals and often a painful, lingering death.

As you have probably guessed the aim of this post is express that fact that snares should be banned altogether, free running and self locking.

What is a snare and what are they supposed to be used for?

Snares are thin wire nooses which are set to trap wild animals perceived to be a pest or threat. They are usually made of steel, or sometimes brass, stranded wire. The aim of a snare is to allow the target animal’s head to enter then as it moves forward the noose becomes tighter. Their actual use, in the UK, isn’t to kill the animal but to capture and restrain the animal until a person can attend and humanely kill it. In Britain, they’re largely used by gamekeepers to control fox numbers and also used to a lesser extent by farmers and landowners to control rabbits. Snares are usually set up along runs or pathways thought to be used by the target species. They are also sometimes placed over the entrances to rabbit burrows or fox earth. Defra estimated that nearly 6,000 landholders use fox snares across England and Wales, and rabbit snares are used over 1,500.

 The suffering

If a snare is attached to a post the captured animal in its efforts to escape will end up wrapping the wire round and round the post until the noose is so tight that if causes serious injury. Snares have also been found positioned on the top of walls or banks, so that when they catch their victims, the animals fall and are hung to death. Even when a free-running snare is set properly the wire can easily become kinked or tangles in such a way that the snare acts like a self-locker. A self-locking snare continues to tighten as its victim struggles but does not relax when the animal stops pulling. This causes the nooses to cut through the animal’s skin and into its flesh, causing terrible suffering.

A slow death by strangulation is bad enough but snares do not only capture the animals by the necks. Some animals get their legs caught in snares and end up with the snare cutting down in the bone. Such animals may attempt to escape by gnawing off their own limbs. Other animals are caught around the body. Both badgers and foxes have been found with snares that have almost cut them in half.

There are always stories in the news about snares, here are a few recent ones

Peak District estate under pressure to remove snares after spate of injuries

Stoke-on-Trent badger “strangled to death” in Fegg Hayes snare

Cats caught in homemade snares at St Athan, RSPCA warns

As you can see snares are awful things which cause animals to suffer incredibly. In my opinion, they should of been banned years ago. The UK is the one of the only countries in Europe where they’re still legal.

Manifestos

When looking through all the manifestos there was no mention of banning snares except for from the Green Party. It said they will end the use of snares. It’s very disappointing that the Greens are the only party which say they will ban the use of snares.

wpid-wp-1430471630200.jpeg

GE2015 7 Day Blogs: Speaking for Wildlife

A week today most of you will have a good idea on what party you want to vote for and why you want to vote for them as the polls have opened and you have until 10pm that night to vote. Maybe some of you have no idea at all! For me, I have a great idea of who I’d vote for but unfortunately I can’t as I’m 16.

When we decide who we’re going to vote for we consider many different things. Whether we agree with the parties policies (most definitely) , you support the local MP or perhaps you’re vote is tactical. When I think about what party I’d vote for the first thing that comes into my head is what are they planning to do for our natural world. Do they have an action plan? – As this is necessary. Would their plan be effective? Or do they realise how important our natural world is, is this obvious with what they have said and stand for?

Everyone has different reasons for voting for different parties, most likely it’s because you agree with something they stand for which affects you. As I said, for me that’s nature. But I think more people need to think about nature when they vote. Not just for those who enjoy it and get great pleasure from it but for themselves. Nature helps everyone in all sorts of ways, for most they don’t even know. From the bees which pollinate the food they eat to the trees which reduce flooding and give us the oxygen we breath. It also helps us in a way that we enjoy being outdoors, whether it be due to illnesses like depression or just for pure enjoyment and escaping. At the end of the day, if you look at the bigger picture, nature affects us all in so many different ways which we all need to understand and consider. If we don’t act now though then our nature is going to carry on declining and they’ll be no going back. Due to this it worries me hugely for future generations.

When looking at the manifestos there is a big difference from one to another. Some are very supportive and obviously care greatly about the environment yet others seem to have forgotten that it exists!

Here are some key things I took when looking through all the party manifestos which link to the environment and nature:

Labour

  • The first point I took from their manifesto, to do with the environment, was that a Labour Government would play a leading global role in tackling climate change. It says that this will not be enough to get rid of the threat of climate change but we must adapt to its damaging effects, which are impacting us today
  • They also plan to produce a ambitious adaptation programme and prioritise investments in flood prevention.
  • Deal with the problem of air pollution by giving local authorities the powers they need
  • Keeping forests in public ownership and promote access to green spaces in local planning
  • Support the work of the National Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces, and make them part of our thriving tourism industry
  • End to the badger cull
  •  Improve the protection of cats and dogs
  • Ban wild animals in circuses
  • Defend the hunting ban
  • Deal with wildlife crime associated with shooting

UKIP

  • Not allow the countryside to be over developed with housing. They believe that our countryside must be preserved so it can be enjoyed by future generations
  • Match fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects, such as creating a lake, wetland, repairing traditional stone walls etc. Which will enhance the local environment, encourage rural education, or help recovery from environmental disasters
  • Triple the maximum jail sentence for animal cruelty
  • Keep the ban on animal testing for cosmetics

Conservative

  • Protect hunting, shooting and fishing
  • Give Parliament the opportunity to repel the Hunting Act
  • Put in a ‘Blue Belt’ to help protect precious marine habitats
  • Keep forests in the trust of the nation and plant another 11 million trees
  • Tackle the illegal wildlife trade
  • Spend £3 million, which will enable them, to clean up rivers and lakes, protect stonewalls and hedges, and help our bees to thrive
  • Allow councils to give a fixed penalty on fly tipping,
  • Charge 5p for a plastic bag
  • Go ahead with HS2
  • Tackle international wildlife trade
  • Continue badger culling to control bTB

Scottish National Party (SNP)

  • Continue to support a moratorium on fracking
  • Commitments for carbon reduction

Plaid Cymru

  • Animal welfare law to end animal cruelty
  • Work across Britain and Europe to prevent the spread of invasive alien species, both flora and fauna

Greens (here goes)

  • Protect, expand, properly fund and improve non-car access to our national parks
  • Protect forests
  • Dramatically reduce the pesticides and priorities non-chemical farming methods through improved agri-environment schemes, legislation, education and the promotion of good practise in farming, as well as increased support for organic farming
  • Improve the management of woodland through new planting and the local use of sustainable woodland products
  • Aim to insure through planting that everyone is within 5 minutes walk of a green space
  • Help bees by reducing pesticides, ‘greening’ farming, improving planning guidance to preserve/create bee habitats, and making bees a priority species in biodiversity strategies
  • Promote landscape-scale conservation
  • Repeal the Nationals Planning Policy Framework
  • Work with local communities, scientists, and conservation groups to expand the UK’s network of Marine Conservation Zones
  • Play our part in creating a Southern Atlantic Reserve and champion internationally the protection of the Artic
  • Produce a strategy for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gases
  • Creating a healthy water environment
  • Prohibit developers from being allowed to destroy unique habitats by way of biodiversity offsetting elsewhere.
  • Support the conservation of the environment of the Oversea Territories
  • A complete ban on rabbit and hen cages
  • Tougher regulations on animals transportation
  • Action to stop the use of antibiotics in intensive animal farming
  • End of the badger cull
  • End of the use of snares
  • End the practise of grouse shooting and other ‘sport’ shooting

This is just a short list of the policies that the Green party have included in their manifesto about the environment and nature, if you’d like to have a better look, click here.

Liberal Democrats

  • Creating 200,000 new green jobs
  • Planting 1 million trees
  • Introducing a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags

From tomorrow until next Wednesday, the day before the general election, I will do a blog everyday looking at a variety of a few key topics which affects British wildlife and, in some cases, on a world wide scale. Then next Thursday, I will be summarising all that I have wrote about over the 6 day period.

In the posts I will go through why it’s important to deal with this issue, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been a mention on any party manifesto and much more. With this I hope to help people see some problems we face within the natural world, what parties have said they’ll do to solve this (if anything at all) and be an eye opener. I then plan to share my blog with party leaders and MPs (etc) in the hope they’ll see the problems with these issues and why they need to be dealt with.

Another reason why I’ve decided to do this is because nature and the environment has been barely mentioned during general election campaigns. This is quite upsetting, it’s obvious we don’t understand that nature is extremely important. Therefore its important to express the issue in any way we can.

Obviously there are many issues which face our wildlife in the UK and world wide but unfortunately I only have six days and because I’m currently extremely busy revising and taking my GCSE exams so I’ve had to focus on them a lot too.

The topics include:

Friday – Saving our Oceans. In this blog I’ll be including the massive impact oceans have on all of us, why they need our help and how we can help.

Saturday – Snares. In this blog I’ll be including how evil snares are and why they should have been made illegal years ago!

Sunday – The badger cull. Where I’ll be including all from the badger march in David Cameron’s constituency, Witney, from the day before.

Monday – Helping our bees. In this blog I’ll be including problems facing bees, why we need to help them and how we can help them

Tuesday – Wild persecution/Wildlife Crime. In this blog I’ll be including a range of subjects, from birds of prey to foxes. Also how we need to stop the persecution through things like the police and the general public (which we bring me nicely onto Wednesdays topic).

Wednesday – Inspiring the next generation. Where I’ll be including the replies from my local MPs regarding my Vision for Nature

IMG_1370

My #VisionforNature

As you’ve probably guessed in just under a month the general election will be held, 7th May. The campaign has already began and parties are rolling out their policies.

Unfortunately, as I’m 16, I can’t vote but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on the political parties and what I would like to see in their Manifestos. As you can probably guess the thing I am most interested in what they say about is wildlife and the environment.

A few weeks back I became aware of the #VisionforNature campaign that A Focus on Nature have set up which consists of a series of blog posts running up to the general election. Over the month AFON members will share their own Vision for Nature. This includes what they want the natural world to look like by 2050 and how they want to get there. You can get involved by using the hash tag they have created, #VisionforNature and by filling in this survey.

Yesterday, for the 3rd day of their series, I did a blog about my Vision for Nature. It was very difficult to decide what to write about but in the end I decided to write about getting the next generation involved and everyone realising how important nature is. Not just to them who are interested but for every single one of us, all ages.

You can read the blog post I did here – http://www.afocusonnature.org/a-vision-for-nature/inspiring-the-next-generation-by-georgia-locock/#more-6049

I have also sent the blog to all of my local party candidates to help spread the message that young people care about nature’s future. Since that is the aim of the campaign.