Posts Tagged ‘Care for the Wild’

I spent the majority of today in the company of over 2000 people who came from all over this great country of ours to show their indignation at the disastrous wildlife eradication policy that is the Badger cull. Victoria Square in central Birmingham was the chosen location and it was heart-warming to see people from all walks of life coming together for a single cause.

Protestors march through the city centre

Protestors march through the city centre

This Government policy, led by the worst environment secretary for decades (Owen Paterson) has taken both political and environmental poison to appease the corporate interests of the National Farmers Union alongside that sinister organisation the Countryside Alliance, and are hiding behind a cloak of deceit and lies, misleading the general public that the justification was the control of bovine TB. The real reason, I believe was that the large landowners wanted unopposed jurisdiction over the countryside, they wanted to do what they dammed well pleased, have dominion over all they surveyed like the feudal land owners from centuries past. After the Hunting Act of 2004 became law they lost some of this power and saw the opportunity to get some back via the extermination of a protected species in order to free up land for other use and to satisfy their own sick bloodlust.

Pete Martin from GABS

Pete Martin from GABS

Unfortunately for them they didn’t take into account the Great British public. The anti-cull movement became the largest animal rights movement in Europe virtually overnight. Today was just one of many demonstrations that have taken place throughout the country. There were fine words from Dominic Dyer (Care for the Wild), Pete Martin (Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting), Drew Prattern (Wildlife Activist) plus many more along and with live performers and stalls . . . it was certainly a spectacle I was very happy to be part of and great to catch up with friends I’d made in the cold and muddy fields of Gloucestershire. Hats off to the organisers and all those involved. Hopefully a few more can be added to the list of those who are now more aware and willing to get involved.

Dominic Dyer addresses the crowd

Dominic Dyer addresses the crowd

I hope, as it now seems the Government will finally see some sense, remove Paterson, severe the ties of power to dictate policy from an unelected corporate entity and take control of the situation by abandoning the cull policy. Our wildlife is precious and should never suffer at the hands of those with an agenda of destruction and corporate greed.

It’s time to take note, the people have spoken.

This Saturday (22nd February) there will be a big rally and demonstration against Owen Paterson’s (or more accurately NFU’s) ludicrous wildlife eradication policy better know as the Badger Cull. This is likely to be the biggest turnout since the amazing scenes last June in London which was largely ignored by the mainstream media, most notably the BBC. It promises to be an excellent event with speakers including Dominic Dyer from Care for the Wild who is a fine orator and an expert in the subject at hand. I was interviewed by a BBC Wildlife Magazine journalist in Gloucestershire last autumn during the cull and they confirmed that Dominic has a huge amount of credibility within the media due to his background and knowledge from both sides of the fence. I’ve spoken to him personally as well and his passion is truly infectious.

So get over there if you can, wear black and white to show your support, make lots of noise and have a good time. Most importantly show that the Great British public are not prepared to sit idly by while corporate interests wipe out our natural heritage. I’ll see you there

Two things caught my attention over the last couple of days.

First of all I get updates on my Facebook feed from lots of different sabs groups across the country, they’re usually filled with similar incidents of abuse, threats and violence but also the good news that some people are still prepared to get out there and take direct action against those that want to kill our wildlife for fun and that that action is generally effective. However a report from the Norfolk & Suffolk group was really quite upsetting and regards a large Hare shoot that took place on the Raveningham Hall Estate.

Now the Brown Hare is a nationally declining species. Modern farming methods aren’t generally that conducive to flourishing wildlife and the poor Hare is suffering more than most. It has, as a species precious little protection from the law and that’s something which has to change unless we want to see it disappear from our fields for good. It’s a gracefull and elegant animal adapted to wide open spaces and does no damage to anyone, my wife holds a special place in her heart for them and we have a lovely painting hanging above our stairs depicting a pair of them. So seeing a line of tweed clad men in wellies blasting away recklessly at driven Hares is not something that should be acceptable for modern society. The sight and sound of a squealing Hare, kicking in it’s death throws will stay with anyone with a ounce of compassion. The sabs tried hard but ultimately many died that day. Although the animals will be eaten it’s nothing to do with killing for food, it’s the enjoyment of the act of killing which is fundamentally wrong. There is always a huge outcry over images of trophy hunters with big game from Africa, and rightly so but this is no different and has to stop before our fields become completely sterile, once they’re gone, they’re gone.

This poor Hare died in the arms of this sab after he ran in front of the guns to try and save it.

Which brings me to my second point.

Prince William and his father, good old Charlie released a video message as global ambassadors for protected species regarding the illegal ivory and Rhino horn trade. Now that’s great but unfortunately the Prince was also recently in Spain on a shooting estate with gun in hand killing Wild Boar and Deer. Hardly the right impression created there sunshine, kind of makes you look like a massive hypocrite. If you really want to create some kind of realistic credibility you really need to put down your gun. Dominic Dyer, spokesperson for Care for the Wild sums it up nicely, he says:

“We are disappointed that he chose to go hunting on the Duke of Westminister’s estate. We think it sent out the wrong messages and does raise concern about his interest in hunting on one side and wildlife protection on the other.

It’s not illegal what he’s doing. But it can seem somewhat hypocritical. And he may come into contact with people on these hunting trips who are involved in killing elephants or rhino in terms of trophy hunting – a good example of that is Spain’s King Juan Carlos, who had to step down as patron of the WWF about 18 months ago after being pictured shooting an elephant in Botswana.

Who you associate with can sometimes undermine your role.

If he wants to be a global ambassador to protect endangered species across the world, the best thing he can do is hang up the hunting rifle and only do shooting with a camera.

If you want to be a global ambassador to protect wildlife it’s not good to be going hunting. There might be a real value in him drawing a line under it and saying ‘I want to be seen as a dedicated conservationist’.”

Wills should listen to that advice.

Finally great to see a good turnout at the Stop the Badger Cull march in Shrewsbury over the weekend. I’ll see you in Birmingham on the 22nd.

I’ve avoided any direct comment on the badger cull so far but I just can’t hold back any longer. The war of words with claims and counter claims between the sides has been going on for some time now since Natural England revoked the license in Gloucestershire due to insufficient numbers of badgers killed. We were told by the Government minister (yes it’s that Owen Patterson again) that an independent panel would gather all the information from the cull and then reside over the humanness, efficiency and effectiveness of the killing policy although only for the orignal 6 week period and not the ill advised extensions. Now the Government has always claimed the policy was based on science and yet no independent scientist would back what the Government was telling us, far from it in fact. The trials conducted by the previous Labour government (The Krebs trial) concluded that culling could make no meaningful contribution to the reduction of Bovine TB in cattle and in some cases actually make the situation worse. Still it pushed ahead in spite of all the highly respected opposition.

The latest development came from animal charity Care for the Wild with an estimated cost of well over £7 million. The figures bear up to close scrutiny and now the policing costs have been released it’s fairly clear they’re accurate. Total police costs of almost £2.5 million are double what had been estimated. Defra of course are claiming these figures are misleading blaming wide scale criminality and intimidation from the protestors.

Quite frankly that’s a load of shite.

I spent many days and nights in the cull zone and from what I personally experienced or heard from reliable witnesses the only type of behaviour fitting that description came from the cull operatives and their supporters. I’ve been targeted with IR illuminators, had explosive devices detonated close by, been intimidated (well they tried to anyway) and verbally abused by farmers, know people who’ve been driven at with a real risk of serious injury, threatened with violence and had property damaged. It got quite nasty at times out there and the Police by and large did nothing except stop and search anyone they didn’t like the look of.

When you consider the price for the killing of each badger comes in at £4100 you begin to wonder what the point of it all was. The cost to vaccinate is miniscule by comparison. The policing costs in Gloucestershire alone exceeded £1.7 million which is half a million more than the total cost of the Welsh Government badger vaccination programme . When you consider the complete and utter failure on all counts you start to ask yourself if the control of Bovine TB really is the reason behind all this. I have a horrible feeling this is the NFU, in collaboration with the Countryside Alliance and the Tory elite who want to repeal the hunting act trying to regain control of the countryside in some manner. Half the land involved in the cull in Gloucestershire didn’t even have cattle on it, but was in fact owned by large shooting estates and filled with Pheasants. Badger setts are protected by law, I wonder how many land owners/game keepers/farmers wanted to do something else with that land but were unable to due to a badger sett.

Makes you wonder . . .

Additional

It has to be noted that although it was said that none of the badgers killed would be tested for TB (Owen Patterson claimed in the Commons they were all very sick when shot) a source within Defra has confirmed that a number were.

No infection was found in any of the badgers.