Tag Archives: hunting

September’s uproar

Right then. So no-one’s allowed to speak out about the persecution of Hen Harriers any more, even though it’s a crime, or the negative impacts of driven grouse shooting, even though they scale out the positive ones, or how all science about the cull says it won’t work, even though there’s no science suggesting it will, or the horrific cruelty to species like the fox if the Hunting Act was to be repealed, even though they’d probably be killed in unimaginable ways, and so on.

Sounds morally wrong to me but these are the suggestions of those at the Countryside Alliance and some more, who are trying to silence us ‘tree-hugging townies’ that know nothing about the countryside. Don’t even mention that ‘prada wearing, muddled’ guy, Chris Packham! As Robin Page has put it, the ‘Packham Loop’.

As many will know, in the September issue of the BBC Wildlife Magazine, like most issues, Chris Packham published, once again, a very interesting and thought provoking article. However this one was like no other. I don’t think anyone was expecting to find that the result of it would be such a bash up from those on the opposite side of the table. After the Countryside Alliance got wind that was when it all set alight.

They were furious that not only was he speaking out against a lot of the things their organisation believes in but people were listening to him! How dare they?! By this I mean they were rather annoyed that he was allowed to speak about things when he has a job like he does. Where people do follow him, support him and listen unlike you Mr Bonner. What attention do you get apart from mainly bad? Then again I suppose any attention is good attention for him, this is illustrated nicely by a few of his tweets.

This afternoon I came across another article from someone who never seeks to surprise me, Robin Page. A ludicrous man and a perfect example that people ‘like him’ are on a completely different page to a lot of people, especially those who CARE and want the best for the countryside in the way that it can thrive. I’ve read a few articles about this issue like this but I’ve also read some very positive ones too, along with comments on various articles which say it all really. Those at the forefront may be a minority but we are growing and when we do get the message out there people will realise.

It has become quite a twisted issue though. From a regular column in the BBC Wildlife Magazine, which was primarily about the work of Britain’s conservation charities, it has turned into something where the CA are lobbying to get Chris the sack and basically find someone to pick on. We’ll never be silence though and this is obvious by the uproar that’s happened in support of Chris and the work that he does.

So, thank you for all of your targeting as, if anything, you brought an army closer together. With over 70,000 signatures in just a matter of days on a petition, what can I say. Except it’s a shame they haven’t all signed this one too! – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441

As well as that, I think at this point it could be a good idea to write to the BBC Wildlife Magazine expressing your opinion and views on it all. I imagine they’ve probably been sent some negative comments and we need to make sure that the comments in support are overpowering those against. It wouldn’t surprise me if they do a page on the feedback or just for the normal comments page. Not only to make it clear that we support Chris but to make sure they know we aren’t going anywhere and what he says is agreed with by many. An email to do so with would be – wildlifeletters@immediate.co.uk

Downing Street wildlife protection demo

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

– Ghandi

This was the message that I had on the placard I made for yesterdays wildlife protection/anti-hunting demonstration outside Downing Street. Why did I chose this quote? Because it says it all. If a Government is prepared to savage a wild animal in the most inhumane way they can possibly think of in the name of sport then what makes you think they’ll treat humans any better. We all know that animals are innocent creatures which have been on this planet a lot longer then us and at the end of the day their main aim is to survive. They may do small harm to humans but certainly not as much harm as we do to them.

Over the last few days there has been two big protests in London against any amendment or repeal of the Hunting Act. Unfortunately I really couldn’t make Tuesday’s demo but I made sure I was there yesterday to join those in making it clear that we want British wildlife to be left alone and not be a victim of cruelty. People from all different backgrounds joined yesterday to show their support, whether they were young or old or from different areas of the country, we all united outside Downing Street to show that not only us but around 80% of the country do not want any repeal or amendment of the Hunting Act.

As well as this, it wasn’t just the welfare of foxes that we were protesting for. It included all British wildlife like hares which would be affected by a repeal due to hare coursing, deer, they’d be hunted, badgers, a creature that has been heavily targeted by government policies in the past few years and can be affected by hunting in many different way, and many other species. However today was mainly to do with the repeal of the Hunting Act after the weeks commotion.

I say repeal or amendment but repeal is the word I should be using. Even though the Government and the media are saying amendment it is basically a repeal. The Tories are saying that they want to change the law so it’s in line with Scotland, where they use a limited amount of dogs unlike England where two dogs can be used. By doing so it would make it almost impossible to prosecute. Due to this animal charities, like the RSPCA, are accusing the government of approaching an abuse of power with its efforts to bring back hunting by the back door.

On Tuesday though the vote was called off after SNP announced it would be voting against a repeal. When they first announced it this was fantastic news as it was obvious that the ban would stay where it is. However Cameron didn’t seem to like this so spat his dummy out and cancelled the vote. Even though this may sound like good news, especially as under the current EVEL policy SNP would still be able to vote, it’s obvious that Cameron and his chums have some slimy plan up their sleeves. This will be one to watch. In the mean time, as the vote has only been postponed, please get in contact with your local MP and try to make sure that they will not be voting to repeal.

Yesterday, at 12.30pm everyone began to gather at Richmond Terrace which is opposite Downing Street. By 1pm there was a good crowd and the speeches began. Everyone who was there looked great, they either had banners, posters, placards or they were dressed up, wearing hats or had fox masks and overall looked the part. We made a great impression as lots of people walked past. We were also joined by one delightful (sarcasm) man who was a master of a few different hunts and showed no shame whatsoever.

First to speak was Chris Williamson (ex-Labour MP for North Derby). He spoke at the BAWC conference earlier this year which was a great speech and so was yesterday’s. Next to speak was Dominic Dyer, CEO Badger Trust, who normally speaks at the stand up for wildlife and badger marches. Followed by Lynn Sawyer who I’ve also heard talk at past events and then Peter Egan who is an actor and animal welfare campaigner. This was then followed by Luke Steele, animal welfare campaigner, then Anneka Svenska who is a wildlife and Eco presenter. Finally it was Peter Martin who is the chairman of the Badger Trust and an animal welfare campaigner.

After the array of brilliant speeches we then gathered opposite Downing Street for a while before crossing the road and standing right outside the gates. Whilst doing so everyone was shaking their banners and signs, shouting VERY loudly, blowing whistles and much more. Overall we made lots and lots of noise which was fantastic! I thought it was great that we could stand here as we definitely got some attention by people passing by and tourists. Again, even though the vote had been postponed it was still very important to make it clear that we don’t want any repeal now or in the future. This was also made clear by some of the chants. A few were “shame, shame, shame on Cameron”, “blood, blood, blood on his hands”, “No excuse for animal abuse”, “No more killing, no more fear, we don’t want fox hunting here” and a few more too.

Here are a few photos I took.

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Urging your MP to stop the slaughter of wildlife

Now the general election is all over and done with and local MPs are settling in, either new ones or re-elected ones, it’s very important that we let them know how we feel about policies and issues. With the Tories running the country on their own now it’s even more worrying for our wildlife. Two main issues include the on going badger cull, which will resume in the summer, and their promise to give MPs a free vote on whether the Hunting Act should be repealed. It is rumoured that this vote could happen in a number of weeks. Obviously there are other issues facing our wildlife which we need to contact our local MPs about but these two are amongst the most worrying at this exact moment in time.

Just before the general election I did a blog post as part of A Focus on Nature’s Vision for Nature blog series. My blog was all about inspiring the next generation (click here to read it) and I emailed it round to all of my local party candidates. I was pretty pleased with the response. The response I got back from my Tory candidate was that if he got re-elected, which he was, that I should get back in touch and we could meet to discus the issues further. At that point I knew it was very obvious that he would be re-elected so when I replied I said that if we do meet I would like to discuss other issues which face our wildlife too. This should be very interesting as after doing a bit of research I discovered that he was FOR the badger cull and FOR the repeal of the Hunting Act. When the Conservatives got in I was quite reluctant to meet him as I didn’t really like the idea of meeting a Tory MP so I got in touch with the League Against Cruel Sports and they reassured me that the best way to get my opinion and concerns across was to meet with him. Due to this I got back in touch this week about it. When I do meet with him I’ll be doing plenty of blogging about how it goes.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been in touch with my MP, I’ve been in touch with him and many others lots of times. I’m regularly sending emails or letters to MPs. It is really easy to do so and only ever takes a few minutes to write and send it, either by post or email. Obviously one letter or email isn’t going to make the world of difference but if we all bombard our local MPs with our views and concerns on issues like the badger cull and the Hunting Act then it WILL make a difference. After speaking to people in the past they’ve said that they don’t contact their local MP for many reasons like they don’t know what to say, it’s a waste of time, they simply can’t be bothered and many other reasons. At this time when a vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act could be weeks away and the badger cull is certain to go ahead later on in the year it’s vital that we get in touch with our local MPs to get the message across and make them listen. For those who aren’t sure what to say, think it’s a waste of time, simply don’t have time or for whatever other reason I have put together a template below for you to copy and forward to your local MP. It will take a matter of minutes to do and it could make a difference so what’s to loose?! I’ve put this together for the benefit of helping to get a message across to help our wildlife so feel free to copy it or edit it to suit you but please make an effort and help make a difference, it is worth it.

Dear ——

As the MP for my constituency I am writing to you today expressing my concerns on some important issues. The natural world is important to every single one of us here in the UK and all around the world. Not only is it the fact that without it we wouldn’t be here but many of us enjoy every moment we spend when it surrounds us and find the disgusting acts of cruelty and disrespect against it very upsetting. There are many wrong doings against wildlife but today I will be writing about two main ones which I would like you to consider and speak out about as big decisions are being made about them which is very worrying. One is the repeal of the Hunting Act and the other is the badger cull which is planned to be rolled out again this year and possibly in more areas of the South West.

Men wearing red jackets, on the back of a horse, riding through the countryside blowing horns in big groups with a massive pack of dogs in the hope of ripping an innocent mammal such as a fox or hare in the most disgraceful way possible can not be classed as a ‘sport’ or ‘fun’, so definitely not legal. These are innocent creatures which deserve a place in our countryside more then anything else. They were here a lot longer before us and part of the natural world and ecosystems which help us survive. How can anyone think it is acceptable to destroy these mammals in a horrific way. We should be embracing these species for their beauty not discriminating them in the worst way possible.

There are many arguments that the Act has ‘done nothing for animal welfare’ and that it is a ‘humane method to control fox numbers’ but this is far from the truth. It’s just an excuse that the hunters can give when all they want to do is shred an innocent mammal to pieces. It’s not just myself who has this opinion, 80% of the British Public are in favour of the Hunting Act along with 86% who are against deer hunting and  88% are against hare hunting and coursing. How much more obvious could it be that the British public want this ban to be kept. Therefore if a free vote for MPs on repealing the Hunting Act does go ahead, as promised by the Prime Minister and could take place in the next few weeks, I urge you to vote to keep the Hunting Act.

As mentioned another issue which I am writing to you about today is the badger cull. Yet another summer and more innocent badgers are being killed in the unsuccessful attempt to eradicate Bovine TB. However it is most likely that this year and over the next few years that the cull will expand more and more in the South West. As the cull is going to be rolled out in a matter of months I am writing to you with my concerns about it.

It’s obvious that Bovine TB in cattle is a problem and it needs to be sorted. However culling badgers isn’t the answer, it doesn’t take a genius to work that out. Badgers are being blamed and hold responsible far too much. There are many scientific studies that tell us the cull won’t work. One study example is the Randomised Badger Cull Trial undertaken by the last government between 1997 and 2007. The results of this study concluded that “Given its high costs and low benefits, badger culling is unlikely to contribute usefully to the control of cattle TB in Britain and we recommend that TB control efforts focus on measures other than badger culling.”

Along with this a poll has revealed that the cull is the fifth most common complaint to MPs. So if scientific studies and the public don’t want it then why is it still planned to go ahead? There are better alternatives to the cull so why aren’t they being used. As well as this the cull has caused many badgers to be killed in horrific ways. This includes them taking up to ten minutes to die when they are shot free running and also wildlife criminals given the ‘green light’ for badger persecution. There’s no doubt that since the cull has began badger persecution has risen and this is due to the cull. Badgers are killed in some of the most disgusting ways you could possibly imagine. They are one of the most protected species in the UK yet they are the most persecuted.

I hope you can take into consideration what I have said and my concerns on some animal welfare issues. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,

——

To make it even easier for you here’s where you can find who your local MP is – http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

GE2015 Day Five: Wildlife Crime

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.

Wildlife crime is a big subject to cover. First of all, the species of which the crime has been committed against, then what type of crime it is, e.g. shooting, poisoning. Then onto the law about this crime, how the criminal is caught, how it’s policed and much more. In an urban area say someone breaks into a shop it has most likely been caught on CCTV so it’s easy to catch the criminal, it’s most likely obvious that this crime has been committed and people know full well this is a crime too. For wildlife though, say in rural areas, the story is completely different. For a starters there is no CCTV so it has to be done by people themselves. But if there are people around they may not notice as they don’t realise this is a crime and therefore don’t report it. So how is this criminal supposed to be caught or punished? If there’s no evidence of what they’re doing and there’s no idea that they’re committing a crime anyway then there’s no hope! Also there is the worry of the issues not being policed properly, wildlife crime is rising yet there are still only a few wildlife crime officers for an area. In most cases the wildlife crime officers are just normal officers and deal with wildlife crime as a part time job. Fortunately in some cases people do realise what they’ve seen, for example wildlife enthusiasts which are aware of the on goings, and saboteurs.

In this blog I’m going to go through some examples of crimes against wildlife, the party manifestos, and how we need to stop wildlife crime through things like the general public which will bring me nicely on to tomorrows topic about inspiring and educating the next generation.

There are lots of different types of wildlife crime which are all awful and towards different species, whether it be here in the UK or on a global scale. On this blog I’m only going to look at birds and mammals, then more specifically within those topics.

Birds

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the primary legislation which protects animals, plants, and certain habitats in the UK. This obviously includes wild birds. However this gets quite complicated as this Act only covers species which are resident or are a visitor to the European Territory of any member in a wild state. Birds including wood pigeons, carrion crow, rooks, magpies, jackdaws and gamebirds (within the open season) are legal to shoot under a General License.

Other protection for birds (under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Part 1) include

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird
  • Take or destroy the egg of any wild bird
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built
  • Use traps or similar items to kill, injure or take wild birds
  • Disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

All these types of crimes against birds takes place. It’s horrible to know this as it shows people don’t appreciate, understand or enjoy such things which give many of us so much pleasure and happiness. From amateur bird watchers which watch the birds visit the garden fielders to those who are avid and experienced birders who will spend a life time enjoying them. Not to mention the whole ecosystem and diversity they are part of within our landscape and countryside.

Punishment

The maximum penalty that can be imposed for an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (single bird, nest or egg) is a fine of up to £5000 and/or six months imprisonment.

Mammals

Unlike birds the law for mammals varies, mainly from species to species. Even though all of our British mammals are very important and equal I have decided to go through three different species to give a taster.

Badgers

Even though Sundays blog was partly to do with the welfare of badgers I have decided to include them again here. As mentioned before badgers are highly protected however experience disgusting crimes against them. Badgers actually have their own Act to protect them which you can see here – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1992/51/contents

As stated above, badgers are protected under the Badgers Act 1992 and any incident involving a badger is most likely to be a crime. A sum up of laws on this Act include

  • Kills, injures or takes a badger or attempts to
  • Treat a badger in a cruel way
  • Dig for a badger
  • Disturb or damage the sett
  • Uses any badger tongs in the course of killing or taking, or attempting to kill or take, a badger
  • Causing a dog to enter a sett
  • Disturbing a badger when it is occupying a badger sett

Recently I’m regularly seeing horrific stories in the news about cruel acts against badgers which is truly disgusting. This is most likely linked to the recent badger cull.

Bats

When you think of wildlife crime and mammals I doubt bats come to mind. However in Britain bats and their roosts are protected by both domestic and international legislation. Bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the National Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations. This is the legislation for England and Wales.

To sum the up, crimes against bats include

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat in its roost or deliberately disturb a group of bats
  •  Damage or destroy a bat roosting place
  • Posses or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive)

Again it’s really important that these laws aren’t broken as in recent decades bats have declined and therefore need urgent protection.

 Deer

I have decided to choose deer as they are again different to the two subjects above. The laws around deer are similar to those of the badger as they are mainly protected under a particular act which is the Deer Act 1991. In the UK we have six species of deer, of these two are truly native (Roe and Red deer) whilst the other four (Muntjac, Fallow, Chinese Water and the Sika deer).

Like I mentioned about grouse before they can only be shot at certain times of the year, these vary for the different species. Landowners are also allowed to shoot deer if they are shown to be causing damage.

From the Deer Act 1991 here are a few points I have summarised

  • Shoot from a moving vehicle
  • Shoot at night
  • Shoot out of season
  • Use anything except legal firearms to kill deer

Again deer poaching is another problem across the country. When I go along to my local police forces wildlife crime meetings it’s obvious that this issue is popular in the country.

Working together

As there can’t be security cameras dotted around the countryside or paid workers waiting patiently behind a tree for someone to commit a crime we have to think of a different solution. One solution is everyone being aware of the crimes which take place within the countryside and understand how they’re just as bad as urban crimes. To do this we obviously need to educate people so they know what to look out for and know why it’s against the law. This can be done by educating the next generation which is vital to end these hideous ongoings in our countryside. In tomorrows blog I will be going into more detail about this and other reasons into why we need to inspire and educate the next generation.

Manifestos

When looking through the manifestos for subjects relating to wildlife crime this is what I found:

Labour – in the Labour manifesto there was the mention of strengthening the hunting act (the idea of hunting with a dog/dogs) and dealing with wildlife crimes associated with shooting.

UKIP – Nothing

Conservative – They say that they will protect hunting, shooting and fishing, by this they mean protect the ableness to do it. They will also repeal the hunting act.

SNP – Nothing

Plaid- Nothing

Greens – In the Greens manifesto it says that they will ban the practise of grouse shooting and other ‘sport’ shooting.