Tag Archives: shooting

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there’s no science suggesting it will, or the horrific cruelty to species like the fox if the Hunting Act was to be repealed, even though they’d probably be killed in unimaginable ways, and so on.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

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Join Hen Harrier Day 2015

Just a few hundred years ago Hen Harriers were a widespread and common bird of prey. However this is certainly not the case at the moment as there are only 600-800 in the UK and only four pairs in England last year.

Hen Harriers have been illegally shot since driven shooting first became popular by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. Grouse shooting takes place between the 12th of August and the 10th of December each year and moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Species like red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter. Unlike pheasants they can not bred in captivity. Instead gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old strands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out illegal and legal activity and intense control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels and birds of prey like our endangered Hen Harriers.

As you may be able to tell from my blog, I really enjoy writing. I also enjoy poetry, even though I’m not very good at it myself! A few weeks back though, I wrote a poem which I thought could be included nicely in this post, here it is.

Beyond the suburb,
not all is as you’d expect.
Look closer in the hills
and in fact, it’s quite a wreck.

Of course there’s still the badger which enjoys a mutter,
the kestrel which glides on the wing,
and the butterfly which has a good flutter.
All real natural and beautiful things.

However Earth’s creatures are under serious threat.
Consumption or persecution, it’s all down to man.
With little help from the Gov or Met,
we must act now and stop bottling the can.

Amongst all ongoings
some know they do wrong.
With evil acts of murder showing,
and them finding the satisfaction strong.

In the back alleys of the countryside
they enjoy to kill in many ways.
No matter what creature it is
as long as it’s open eyed.

First of all, when you hear bang bang,
it may be that from the upland moors.
Competition to shoot from the tweed gangs.
But is it only that bird they’ve mourned?

Not only that bird
but the greed before measured
to them taking a sky dancing treasure.

Trotting on horse back with hounds by side,
within the law and tradition they say.
With bright red hoodies they prop with pride.
Still like little boys who like to play.

Suddenly one squeals as a fox is disturbed,
the hounds ears pricked as it’s fully aware.
The barbaric torture begins as it’s curbed,
flesh torn from the bone as they have no care.

They take no notice of the law,
thinking us ‘tree huggers’ are a joke.
With no thought what they do is vile gore,
you could mistake them for local psycho folk.

Well I tell you for sure we want no more,
we will make that clear
by never giving up, therefore
one day we will win here.

A walk beyond the suburbs
could return to it’s innocence
and those species could roam
like many years ago with brilliance.

A week tomorrow will be Hen Harrier day, just three days before the ‘glorious twelfth’. Events will be happening all over the UK, including the North West and East, Scotland, South and Central England. Hundreds will unite around the country to protest against wildlife crime and the governments failure to tackle the crime which is committed. Although the persecution of Hen Harriers is a big focus point of the day, it is also about rallying against the persecution of other birds of prey which can be found on the shooting estates and the wildlife crime  which takes place here too.

The people who will join together next Sunday are very angry people. They are people who are fed up and want to express their point and they’re all people from different interests. From nature lovers and birdwatchers to ramblers. You can find out more about the events by clicking here.

Other ways you can get involved to help get the message across is by joining the Thunderclap with your social media pages, by adding a twibbon to your profile photo or add your name to Mark Avery’s ban driven grouse shooting petition which has just reached over 8000 signatures! The links are below.

Twibbon – http://twibbon.com/support/hen-harrier-day

Thunderclap – https://www.thunderclap.it/en/projects/28786

Petition – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441

I also found this tweet interesting early, very true and makes you realise how important it is that we need to get the message out there.

BAWC_Slider_Wildlife_Crime_Henry_v1

What now?

Unless you’ve been hiding away since 10pm last night (I wish I had) you’ll know that the party that took the majority in the 2015 election are the Conservatives. They needed 326 seats and they just managed to scratch that with 331, hardly an “impressive election victory” but they got the majority they needed and a hundred more seats then Labour.

Last night I was happily getting on with my revision when I decided to have a quick look at what was going on so turned the news on. It read that the Exit polls were predicting Conservative to be the biggest party. I was very very surprised and thought no chance, Labour will get it! Therefore got back to my revision. Just before I decided to stop with my revision, about 11.30, I had another look at what was going on and watched the news for a while. To be honest, I was very puzzled. Over the last few weeks and months I have really taken an interest to the election and done my part in hoping the Tories don’t win as if they do they will continue with the badger cull, repeal the hunting act and god knows what else! The recent polls had shown neck and neck between Tory and Labour and they had done for weeks.

However when watching the General Election coverage this was a different story. I eventually went to bed when there had been a few seats announced. This morning I woke up at about 5.30 eager to find out but unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice surprise. I felt like going back to bed, the exit poll was obviously right after all! One thing I was most amazed with was the amount of seats SNP had, clearly indicating Labour had no chance at all. I watched patiently and kept checking my phone, the Tory seats were gradually rising. I felt sick to the stomach. All I could think about was the poor wildlife, never mind the British people!

I was so hopeful in thinking Labour could pull it off but obviously not. I was amazed with the amount of votes the Tories had, I thought there could be a chance of them getting a few more votes but not that many! I then had a look at some of my local seats, all Tory. I wasn’t surprised at all when it said Tory for Lichfield though as it’s been Conservative since 1997. The other parties had campaigned hard but unfortunately Fabricant had won with a 55% vote.

Even though I would of liked to have seen it unfold more it was good to get out of the house and go to school, perhaps forget about it a bit for a few hours. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case though, even though I was expecting fellow students to be talking about it, I did hear some distressing comments. Obviously everybody has their own opinion and I respect that, I believe the voting age should of been lowered to 16 for the election but unfortunately it wasn’t. But after hearing some of these comments, not necessary about party policy but to do with the election, it’s obvious that if they ever do lower the voting age it’s vital that they educate the 16-18 year olds about the General Election and so they know where each party stands. With this they could have an even better view on how they think the country should be run and why they actually think that. Rather then some repeating what their parents may have said to them or things they read at a glimpse on the TV or on the front of papers.

Anyway enough about the actual election, what exciting surprises have the Tories got in-store for us over the next five years? Well I wouldn’t get too excited as for wildlife, and most other things, it’s doom and gloom. Britain is supposed to be a country of animal lovers. A country which values its animals and takes good care and pride in them. Whoever voted Tory obviously doesn’t though! Unless they believe tearing a vulnerable, helpless, beautiful creature to pieces by its limbs is that.

Over the next 5 years the Tories have said that they will protect hunting, shooting and fishing. That’s even more bad news after this weeks awful news about another THREE Hen Harriers going missing.  They’ve also said they’ll give Parliament the option to repeal the hunting act. This basically means they will try to scrap the ban on hunting with hounds so majestic animals like the much loved fox which will torn apart in the most gruesome way you can possibly imagine by men on their horses who see this as ‘fun’ or ‘entertainment’. Along with this they still believe that HS2 is a fantastic idea and will go ahead with it. This will cut through our countryside like a ‘white elephant’ and affect many habitats and species. Once again no thought or consideration for animal welfare or wildlife. As well as all of this they will be going ahead with the barbaric, inhumane and inefficient badger cull which has and will again result in thousands of badgers lives lost. Not just due to the cull but for those who see the cull as a green light to persecute them in the most horrific way they possibly can.

I worry so much for the next five years (and after), what will it bring and how bad will it be? But I must remember that even though they’ve won the election that doesn’t mean they’ve won. We must carry on as we were but with a lot more strength. We will win and our wildlife will be safe but we have to push and fight harder then ever, and before they get their murdering hands all over it! I care deeply and passionately about all wildlife and therefore I will never stop fighting for it. It has no voice so if we stop then they win but we can’t let that happen.

So get up and get involved. If you care, show it. Go on a street march or protest, bombard your local MP with letters, write to your local paper, spread the word, get involved with social media, and most of all show you care and don’t give up.

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.