Last week I returned from the SW of England for a short visit to the team we have stationed down there 24/7, conducting operations to save as many badgers lives as possible from the cruel and unnecessary badger cull, a policy signed off by the Government and Defra but driven by the NFU. Work and other commitments have meant my own involvement this year has been reduced however they are doing an amazing job, just like the many other groups in the other cull zones around the country. It’s long hours and tiring work and while we accept we’ll never be able to save all of the badgers they are making an impact and minimising the damage to the local populations.

Of course no cull coverage would be complete without the mention of policing. It would seem various forces have failed to learn from the mistakes made by forces who policed previous culls. There have been reports of overly biased policing and cull operators having direct links with the police. The video below shows a shooter team being caught red handed by the Underground Badger Syndicate and clearly on the phone to police. As you can see they weren’t particularly impressed and very keen to hide their identities.

There were reports in the media that the police were going to start using drones to monitor activists (see here). It would seem once again no expense is being spared and the general public will be picking up the cost. How they intend to deploy these drones remains to be seen, the topography, huge amount of land to be covered and changeable weather at this time of year may mean limited operational time but the fact the police are considering employing these big brother tactics is certainly of concern.

2962017-58265-drone-c-Tim-Scrivener

Devon & Cornwall Police consider using a drone like this.

The biggest overreaction by police was recorded by Liverpool Hunt Sabs after they had located a badger killing team at work in Cheshire. Within seconds armed police arrived and treated them the same as they would armed terrorists while completely ignoring the men who were openly carrying firearms. This is of course pretty serious stuff and suggests the shooters had direct communications with an armed response unit who were prepared and trained to use lethal force, but had used the obvious lies given by the shooters as justification to treat the sabs as armed and hostile. The only people clearly carrying firearms walked away from the scene without being questioned, searched or treated in the same manner as the sabs who were manhandled and handcuffed and carrying nothing more threatening than a torch, a video camera and a thermal imaging scope. The video below speaks for itself.

The treatment of the sabs is clearly unacceptable and completely unnecessary. They were on the scene within 30 seconds and despite their claims to the contrary (they had come from a job in Macclesfield) it would appear to suggest that the police have an ARV assigned to cull duties. While firearms are clearly involved the only people carrying those firearms are those contracted to do the killing. Breaches of firearm licenses have been observed during previous culls with no action taken against those responsible and no anti cull activist has ever been arrested during a cull for firearm offences so one would expect a more reasonable response from the police considering the situation.

This was covered in the national press (see here) over the weekend and I’d been waiting for my own approval to publish prior to this after hearing about the incident direct from Liverpool Hunt Sabs. This kind of incident certainly needs publicising. Our countryside may seem like a green and pleasant land but truth be told there are a lot of people out there with a license to use firearms and they regularly kill our wildlife, with their actions largely going unseen. The same people are now involved in the culling of badgers and this has brought them into the spotlight, a place where they don’t want to be. Adding armed police to the mix who respond to the lies of the real killers is never going to be a good thing and serious questions need to be asked about their use. Whether we get any answers of course is another matter.

As you’ve probably guessed by now I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. I’ll get to that in a moment as it applies to what I’m going to quickly report on next.

So, the other morning I got a call from Suffolk Police. They explained that I had been positively identified and named at an incident which I can only assume involved a hunt in the Suffolk area and that I had been acting in an abusive manner and calling people paedophiles (this is somewhat ironic considering hunt types like to throw this kind of abuse at sabs all the time). The officer who spoke to me believed this information to be questionable as he’d spoken to me many times in the past and didn’t consider this something I would be guilty of, hence the direct phone call.

Now as far as alibi’s go I had a pretty good one. At the time of the call I was located in a small hamlet just to the north of Courtenay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. That’s a little under 7,600 km from darkest Suffolk.

doh

Needless to sat the officer was satisfied with my response and we had a laugh at the ridiculousness of it all however it highlights that there is perhaps a more insidious purpose to the claims made against me. It’s fairly clear to me the purpose of this claim was the first attempt to discredit me as a witness prior to the prosecution trail of Chris Amatt and Archie Clifton-Brown, the huntsman and whipper inn respectively of the Thurlow Hunt based in Suffolk. Except of course they have now completely shot themselves in the foot as any further claims are likely to be treated with the contempt they deserve by the police. You would think that if you are going to try and stitch someone up you would at least make sure they were on the same continent first.

No doubt this will be the first shot in a dirty tricks campaign, something the Countryside Alliance are well known for and with a case they may not be confident in winning they will resort of less scrupulous tactics in order to get the result they desire.

In other news the never ending saga of the Fitzwilliam case rumbles on. The appeal by George Adams against his conviction earlier this year has been delayed again however this is just fine by me. It’s looking highly likely that by the time it goes to court the upcoming fox hunting season will be more or less over so it means we get to call them convicted criminals for a whole season.

Finally this time of year has to be the busiest in the wildlife protection calendar. Most hunts are now cubbing and the cruel and pointless badger cull has been extended even further, 150,000 badgers could be killed, leaving parts of the country devoid of this iconic species where they have existed for centuries just because the NFU want it that way. If you’ve even considered getting involved now would be the time, contact your local sab group for more information.

Donate here.

Well it would seem that the recent sabotage of 2 driven grouse shoots has got a lot of people (shooters) hot under the collar. There has been a whole host of abusive and irate comments from the shooting community on various sab pages, clearly we’ve got under their skin on this and they’ve come out fighting although the comments from the general public as a whole have been, by a very large margin, very supportive.

Of course after my recent blog post about the subject I’ve had my own, well 1 anyway and that’s to be expected and if I’m honest I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t more. This one is from someone claiming to be a Paul Stephens, someone which such courage behind his conviction he took the time to create a fake email address and hide behind a proxy server, his IP address leading to a company based in Holland. It’s funny how those in the hunting and shooting community whine about masked sabs and yet do the same themselves, just in electronic form. This also proves this person is a little more IT savvy at least (or perhaps someone did it for him), most are, quite frankly too stupid.

Artboard 1

A suitably apt cartoon posted on Facebook by North Wales Hunt Sabs

Anyway, here’s the comment:

“This article is laughable. Firstly because you didn’t shut two shoots down. They both carried on. Your efforts of dragging 50max unemployed lay a bouts were wasted. If you were to ban driven grouse shooting you’d end up with thousands of acres baron moorland. As we’ve seen from unmanaged moorland it doesn’t take long for heather to grow to high, braccon and brambles to take over. You morons seem to love the countryside but aren’t willing to dip you hands in your pockets and pay for its upkeep. And you weren’t on a byway you were on a private track.

And I’m sure when punching the 15 year old in the face and throwing his quad keys in the hedge must have been a real highlight of your day. Well done. You’re really brave I’m your masks”.

Let’s break this down.

1 – We absolutely did shut 2 shoots down. The first was escorted off the moor and we sat and watched them drink away their sorrows in a local hotel. The second shoot packed up at around 4pm, a group had eyes on them setting up and that’s as far as they got. They also left the moors and certainly had no more time to set up another.

2 – Aaah the old unemployed thing. It’s like bumpkin bingo. Unemployed – check, layabouts (note it’s one word by the way) – check, no unwashed? I’m disappointed. What many from the hunting and shooting community utterly fail to understand is that sabs come from all walks of life. It’s a very wide demographic with a singular goal, to protect our wildlife from abuse. From a personal perspective all I can say is I’ve worked all my life, I’ve paid off my mortgage and am totally debt free. Not exactly the swampy-esq cliché the narrow minded bigots will have you believe is a sab.

Patchwork of vegetation across grouse moor, Deeside, Scotland.

A monoculture desert – photo Peter Cairns

3 – Here’s comes the environmental argument . . . First off the word is “barren”, a baron is a rank of nobility. Secondly the moorland used for DGS is heavily managed and was created by man. It’s not a natural environment so your opening statement is null and void. Left to its own devices it would, in time return to mixed woodland, an ecosystem with a much higher biodiversity than managed grouse moors.  Once again you lose points on spelling, it’s “bracken”. It kind of undermines any serious consideration for sensible discussion when ones opponent can’t even use a spell checker. You also fail to understand that grouse moors are largely devoid of any balanced ecosystem. All predators or conflicting species are suppressed to such an extent that the only animals which thrive are grouse, at hugely unnatural population levels.

4 – Yes we do love the countryside but what you fail (once again) to grasp is that we do actually pay for it. Grouse moor owners pull in millions of pounds every year in the form of land subsidies. What they put back into the economy is minimal to say they least. They produce no crops yet charge £1000’s a day for rich, tweed clad blood junkies to blast hapless birds from the sky (see here). One has to wonder how these estates will manage once we blunder our way out of the EU and those subsidies start to dry up. Perhaps these millionaire owners will have to delve a little deeper into their pockets.

tax break

5 – Regarding the access, we used an OS map app. This was shown to the police at the time of the incident and the land in question was confirmed by the police at the time as being open access. Regardless of that my comments on the mentality of those trying to prevent us from leaving still stand and are completely relevant.

6 – And finally here we have it. The pièce de résistance, the utterly unfounded claim of violence against a minor. This is a classic deflection technique although one which has been used so many times before no-one really takes it seriously any more, and that includes the police. I look forward to the thorough police investigation into this incident and the perpetrators bought to justice, except of course there won’t be any of that because it didn’t happen. Is there anyone who really believes this unmitigated tripe? Only those desperate enough that live in the blood sports bubble. The last sentence doesn’t make any sense but I’ll assume its in relation to hiding our identities, like you did with a false email and IP. By the way, I don’t wear a mask.

So all in all a pretty poor effort, I’m going to give it 3/10.

Last Saturday I was one of the 70 odd sabs which disrupted 2 driven Grouse shoots in Yorkshire. There has been plenty of coverage on this on social media as well as the local press. The excellent Raptor Persecution UK site also ran a short piece on it as well and the comments make interesting reading.

I won’t go over all the details again (you can read about it here) but needless to say it was a successful day, many Grouse are no doubt still flying about now which would have otherwise been blasted from the sky and there may be the odd Stoat or Weasel still lurking in the heather which won’t suffer a painful death in a fen trap. However the estates which got visited are no doubt seething having lost money and the ignominy of being targeted and having no way to respond.

What was interesting was one of the comments which came from one of the shoots in question and typical of how these organisations respond when their sordid minority death sports are pushed into the public eye. It was reported in the local paper, the Richmondshire Today

Dalesport, which runs shoots, said the saboteurs tried to stone shoot vehicles and intimidate shoot staff. A spokesman said:

“It was a shocking encounter in this tranquil area of the national park. Half the sabs were dressed in black with balaclavas in an attempt to prevent their identity. The police arrived to disperse them but not before further threats were made to the shoot staff.”

To be honest this is utterly laughable. The standard starting point for these comments is always to paint a picture of peace and tranquillity in the area, but lets face it, lots of ruddy faced men in tweed with guns blasting away at unfortunate birds is anything but tranquil and if indeed sabs were stoning cars surely there would be evidence of this, broken windows, dented body panels etc. Oddly enough, this evidence seems to be completely missing. Where were all the arrests the police made for this threatening and loutish behaviour?

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Estate lacky didn’t want his face on the internet. Oh well never mind.

It’s clearly fake news, an utterly feeble and poorly imagined lie in an effort to gain support by those less well informed, a fairly standard response and straight out of the CA’s manual. Amusingly a spokesperson for the fun day in the village of Reeth reported that the sabs had spent a lot of money and the event  had been a great success. So there you have it, sabs are good for the local economy!

The other point of interest was the attempted detention of sabs and the level of effort in which the estate staff and farmer went to in an effort to prevent the sabs from leaving. When we arrived in the area of Bransdale moor the shoot was in the process of already packing up. The track we used was a gated road and clearly marked on the OS map as being open access. Arriving at the top of the track we were confronted by 3 shoot vehicles which blocked the track. We were informed that the police had been called and were on their way. This was fine by us. No laws had been broken and we were just monitoring the shoot vehicles leaving.

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Gotta love the 19th century attire.

At this point we decided to carry on further down the track to where it joined the road at the other end. We were followed some of the way by one of the estate vehicles however they were clearly planning something and this was revealed when we arrived at the other end of the track and faced with a recently chained and padlocked gate with an estate vehicle parked in front of it to prevent us from leaving.

Turning around we proceeded back to our original position to be faced once again with another locked gate and a further 2 estate vehicles, both refusing to move. It seemed a somewhat odd tactic, surely they would want those who had scuppered their days shoot to leave as soon as possible? We has some discussion with the staff who, it has to be said weren’t the sharpest tools in the box but seemed happy to be detaining us. With sketchy phone signal we just managed to get a call out to both the police and another sab group however it seems we would be stuck there for some time.

3 hours later and finally the shoot staff decided to leave, we took our chance and proceeded back to our original entry point. It seemed the bumpkins had been busy!

Tree sized logs from the forestry work had been strewn across the track, the next gate had been locked with a large chain and a heavy agricultural trailer parked behind it. The next gate 50 metres further along had been treated in the same manner, chained up with a trailer blocking. What amazed us was the shear effort they went to for this and the sense of entitlement that they could detain us in this (illegal) manner. It beggars belief.

 

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Farmer forced to unlock gate on the unpaved byway – photo courtesy of North Cambs Hunt Sabs

Needless say the first set of obstacles were moved quickly, and with some ingenuity, team work and a capable sab vehicle both gate and trailer were soon dealt with and we were on our way to tackling the next one fairly quickly. The red faced angry farmer arrived at this point with the police a short distance behind and then the fine sight of around 50 sabs for some moral support. Angry farmer was sent to get his tractor and directed to move the trailer and unlock the gate. Despite protestations to the contrary the police confirmed that the area was indeed open access and no crimes had been committed. Once again they had failed in their somewhat strange plans and we were free to continue our journey.

I know the Countryside Alliance had issued advice to shoots and estates in the event of disruption but I’m fairly certain this kind of reaction wasn’t part of that. You have to wonder what they were trying to achieve as it was only even going to end in one way. For us the day was a 100% success, shoots were prevented from killing, no-one was shot or arrested, we got some nice PR by just walking on the moors and the local economy got a nice boost with the influx of sab money.

Finally, while we were waiting for our chance to leave a ruddy faced shoot employee asked if we get paid, then proclaimed our employer was none other than Paul McCartney! They never seem to get it, what we do is based simply on the combined desire to save lives and right the injustice of those who take delight in abusing our wildlife.