Posts Tagged ‘Chris Packham’

A guest blog this week, written by Tom Fitton.

“I like Mark Avery…he doesn’t sit on the fence, and he doesn’t pull his punches…If only significant others were of the same ilk – but they’re not. In these risk-averse, politically correct and cowardly times they are responsible for putting the ‘con’ in conservation”. – Chris Packham 2014

Let us set the scene: “With the shooting season over, we hunted three days in the first week of February, and from our meeting at Throwley on the 3rd to Plumford on the 24th we accounted for one hare each on nine consecutive days, the best of which were Throwley, Betteshanger (more dreadful weather) and Barfrestone, where we had a superb hunt from Barfrestone almost to Knowlton and back, then towards Elvington and back before accounting for her in Fredville Park. This fine sport must in part be attributed to the hard work of Stuart Sillars, our huntsman, whose many hours of hard work with the hounds throughout the year has certainly paid off this season” (2004).

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The Brown Hare – Hunted by the Blean Beagles

Michael Bax was elected as a trustee at Kent Wildlife Trust in 2013 and subsequently, to the prestigious position of Chairman at the same organisation the following year. The account quoted above is taken from the Blean Beagles end-of-season report, 2003-2004 and published in Horse and Hound magazine. There is no debate that Michael Bax was still ‘Joint Master’ of the Blean Beagles in 2003, a position he held since 1991, having served as ‘Huntsman’, prior to this from 1971. If we take Kent Wildlife Trust’s word, rather than the official documentation that is Baily’s Hunt Directory, ‘the hunting fraternity’s bible’, as Dave Wetton puts it (Wetton, 2017), Bax left the Blean Beagles in 2005, whereas Baily’s state he only left in 2016; eleven years after the Hunting Act, which prohibits the hunting of hares with hounds, came into force.

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Stuart Sillars, mentioned at the end of the article, continues to serve as not only Huntsman for the group, but also Joint Master and ‘Hare Conservationist’. He also happens to be a colleague of Mr. Bax’s at the business run by Bax, BTF Partnership.

Whether or not, Bax left the Blean Beagles in 2005 or 2016, he continues to support bloodsports despite leading a conservation charity he allows a driven-pheasant shoot to take place on his land (Young, 2017). Pheasants are a non-native species to the UK. They were introduced by gamekeepers in the 17th century for so-called ‘sport’. Native wildlife often suffers on land in which a driven-pheasant shoot takes place due to the style of land management used by gamekeepers.

Bax also fundraises for the slaughter of birds across Kent, all whilst serving as the Chairman of a wildlife conservation charity. In 2014 and while Chairman of Kent Wildlife Trust, BTF Partnership sponsored an auction for the shooting of birds and also personally donated a ‘tide flight’ (the shooting of wading birds and ducks at the changing of the tide, when they are most active) (BTF Partnership, 2014). This shoot was donated to an area in Kent known as ‘Greenborough Marshes’. Greenborough Marshes is an environmentally-sensitive area of land and disturbance to this area has been well-documented by both Medway Council (Medway Council, 2015) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC, 2001). Disturbance to this area has also been reported by ornithologist, Tony Prater, during the ‘Birds of Estuaries Enquiry’, sponsored by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildfowl Trust. ‘Shooting [is] excessive in some areas…of the Medway…Greenborough Marshes [is] continually under threats of reclamation’ (Prater, 2010). At the same auction, Bax’s business partner at BTF Partnership, Richard Thomas, donated a pheasant shoot with the statement ‘Expected bag 50-75 pheasants and possibly an unlucky duck’. Whilst Britain still uses toxic lead shot for ammunition, as well as being terrible for the conservation of threatened species (many amber-listed and red-listed species live on the Greenborough Marshes), it is also terrible for the environment, polluting our waters and effecting further water-based creatures on top of the birds that are shot. Lead, as well as preventing the growth of both plants and animals, has a terrible effect on human health. Exposure to lead can lead to problems with the nervous system, kidney function, the immune system, the reproductive system and can also cause cardiovascular problems.

In 2016, Bax personally conducted an auction in order to raise funds for the shooting of ducks on the Isle of Sheppey, with the highest bid reaching £1,600 (2016).

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Mike Bax

 

BTF Partnership also sponsor the Ashford Valley Tickham Fox Hunt (Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt, 2017). A terrierman for the Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt was caught on film disturbing a badger sett in 2013 (North West Hunt Saboteurs, 2013). Also, in 2013, one of the Joint Masters of the hunt, Brian Fraser, a neighbour of Bax’s, was jailed for the possession of a shotgun without a licence (BBC, 2013). It is likely that the Ashford Hunt killed a fox with hounds in September 2017 (East Kent Sabs, 2017). Another fox-hunting group sponsored by BTF is the Southdown and Eridge Hunt (The Pony Club, 2017). This hunt has a conviction for the stabbing of an anti-hunt protestor (KentOnline, 2015).

BTF Partnership also publish an ‘Events Calendar’ on their website, with a list of all kinds of hunting events (BTF Partnership, 2017). Whilst several hunting events are listed in this calendar, the one that stands out to me is ‘Woodcock shooting season’. The Woodcock is an amber-listed species. The Chairman of a Wildlife Trust, should be calling for, at the very least, a moratorium on the shooting of birds such as Woodcock, not advertising their shooting. For the Trust to appoint Bax to their board of Trustees, they legitimise and endorse the activities that he promotes, contrary to the conservation of wildlife.

Kent Wildlife Trust have received thousands of complaints with regards to Michael Bax, whether that be via email, social media, or telephone and that is not including the signatories to my petition (see here). 

They have also received complaints from conservationists such as Chris Packham who said:

“Come on Kent Wildlife Trust join us in the 21st century and employ people who truly wish to preserve wildlife, rather than those who ever found joy in killing it”.

 (Packham, 2017). As well as Packham, politicians, animal welfare organisations such as PETA, members and conservationists, including the Hare Preservation Trust and Anneka Svenska, have all called for Bax’s removal. Unfortunately, for Kentish wildlife and those who wish for wildlife to thrive, these calls have been disregarded by CEO John Bennett and his board of trustees. One of the two Vice-Chairs of the Trust is Charles Tassell, who also happens to be Michael Bax’s business partner at Rural PLCWhen articles appear in papers criticising Michael Bax, another Trustee, Martin Garwood, writes in to attack those who democratically and peacefully oppose Michael Bax’s Chairmanship. I suppose, as the Board of Trustees elected Bax in the first place, this should come as no surprise. For any healthy organisation to be successful, opposing views are imperative. This is not the case with Kent Wildlife Trust, in which they are shut down. The trustees are showing their unsuitability to be holding positions of trust, which is exactly what their job title implies. Unfortunately the twenty or so nineteenth-century minds that head the Trust are tackling twenty-first century problems. The twenty have overruled the 160,000. Hunting has never been more unpopular, as shown by the results of a 2016 poll taken by IPSOS MORI (2016), yet Kent Wildlife Trust hold a ‘neutral’ view on the subject. Neutrality is not acceptable when it comes to the Trust fulfilling its mission statement and neutrality over hunting will not benefit wildlife only the continued slaughter of it. However, the Trust’s appointment of a lifelong bloodsport enthusiast to Chair their board of trustees and their subsequent stubborn defence of him, puts their neutrality into extreme doubt. As a side note you may not be surprised to learn that Kent Wildlife Trust took the side of the hunter over the red-listed and protected hen harrier, during the 2016 debate over the future of driven-grouse shooting, fuelled by ornithologist, Dr. Mark Avery’s petition to have the environmentally destructive bloodsport banned. In simpler terms, the Trust sided with a bloodsport enjoyed by c. 15,000 people, over science-based conservation (in contrast to their mission statement).

For those of us who oppose bloodsports and oppose the Trustee’s running of Kent Wildlife Trust, I implore you, to stand up for nature, for wildlife and for twenty-first century wildlife conservation. Do not be silent. Be loud, be proud and let your voices be heard, just as Joe Hashman, of Hounds Off did at the Trust’s 2017 AGM.

 

References:

‘Foreword’ in Avery, M. (eds), Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands, London, Bloomsbury, p.7.

(2004), ‘Blean Beagles’, Horse and Hound, p.47

Wetton, D. (2017), ‘Wildlife Trust’s ex-Huntsman boss’, Kent Messenger, 20 Apr [Online]. Available here.

BTF Partnership [Online]. Available here

Young, M. (2017) ‘Thousands call for wildlife chief to be sacked for letting bird killers shoot on his land for 10 years’, Daily Mirror, 2 Jun [Online]. Available here

Medway Council (2015) Bird Disturbance in North Kent’ [Online]. Available here .

(2016) ‘Record numbers are game for challenge’, Kentish Express Ashford & District, 21 Jul [Online]. Available here.

BTF Partnership (2014) Kent Game Bird Challenge Shoot and Sporting Auction [Online]. Available here.

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (2001), Medway Estuary and Marshes [Online]. Available here.

Prater, T. (2010) ‘Eastern England’, in Prater, T. (eds) ‘Estuary birds of Britain and Ireland’, London, Bloomsbury, p.160.

Ashford Valley Tickham Hunt (2017) Local Businesses [Online]. Available here.

North West Hunt Saboteurs (2013), Man accused of badger sett disturbance to appear in court following investigations by the League [Online]. Available here .

BBC (2013) Kent huntsman Brian Fraser jailed for gun offences [Online]. Available here

East Kent Sabs (2013) [Online]. Available here.

Pony Club (2017) Eridge Hunt Branch of the Pony Club Annual Show [Online]. Available here.  

KentOnline (2015) Saboteur ‘stabbed’ at Southdown and Eridge fox hunt near Tunbridge Wells [Online]. Available here.

BTF Partnership (2017) 2017 Events Calendar [Online]. Available here

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While the Countryside Alliance and the shooting lobby frantically clamor to produce some kind of evidence to support their claims that shooting is good for conservation (see here) the rest of us can see with our own eyes that shooting estates and Grouse moors in particular are only really good for one thing, shooting Grouse, lots and lots of Grouse. Claims that predator control (control always means killing but that doesn’t sound quite so acceptable) benefit other species is in fact just a secondary consequence of what the main purpose really is – to produce an unnaturally high population of Grouse.

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Grouse moors don’t have balanced ecosystems. While the Hen Harriers and raptors in particular are the main species for concern we shouldn’t also forget that all predatory species are persecuted, some legally, some not. Foxes, Stoats, Weasels and Badgers will all fall victim to the traps, snares and gamekeepers guns. Mountain Hares will be killed in their thousands (see here) just because the shooting lobby believe they have the potential to spread disease to their precious Grouse stocks. This kind of slaughter is immoral in the extreme and once again highlights the lack of empathy and Victorian thinking these estates and their employee have.

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A massacre, nothing less.

Of course this kind of species eradication will have a cascade effect on the ecology of that environment. Golden Eagles will have to target other species to find food or move away from the area (is they haven’t already been poisoned or shot). We cannot let this kind of mentality to continue.

So what can you do?

It’ll be the 12th of August on Saturday. Among the shooting fraternity it’s known as the Glorious 12th – the opening day of the Grouse shooting season (Mark Avery wrote a book on the subject with a more accurate title “Inglorious” see here). It will also be the day that thousands of people will march from Cavendish Square to Downing Street to show their disgust that Grouse Shooting, Badger Culling and Hunting with Hounds still takes place. Why not go along and lend your support. There will be a whole host of speakers from all corners of conservation, politics, public figures and wildlife protection. See the speaking list and order below. I’m sure it will be a great day.

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Cavendish Square – 1pm to 1.30pm

Mark Avery – wildlife writer and campaigner

Philip Mansbridge – Director IFAW UK

Natalie Bennett – Former Leader Green Party

Mark Jones – Associate Director Born Free Foundation

Nigel Palmer – Save Me

Paula – Hunt SABS Association

 

Richmond Terrace – 2.45 – 3.30pm

Chris Packham – Naturalist & Broadcaster

Peter Egan – Actor & Animal Welfare Campaigner

Will Travers OBE – President Born Free Foundation

Philippa King – Acting CEO League Against Cruel Sports

Portia Landry – Hunt Investigation Team

Dominic Dyer CEO Badger Trust

 

Alternatively if you don’t want to travel to London and you fancy a walk in the countryside why not go to a Grouse moor. Take the dog for a walk, bring some friends, hell if it’s a nice day take a packed lunch and make a day of it. Many are open access and there are public rights of way. What you might see are lots of expensive 4×4’s, posh folk wearing tweed or Barbour coats and flat caps, you might also bump into me. What you won’t see are any raptors or mammalian predators. They’ve all been killed. If you happen upon a shoot why not go and voice your objections in a polite manner, explain to them that their actions are unacceptable in a modern society. It would also be a huge shame if their days shooting was ruined and they’d wasted their thousands of pounds to be there.

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Gamekeepers stink or midden pile.

The wild areas of this land and the animals that live there are under threat. Iconic species will be wiped from existence if we don’t take back control from a vociferous and well funded tiny minority. We have the power to make change and it has to start now.

 

I like Chris Packham, he’s my kind of naturalist.

On TV he doesn’t beat about the bush and paint nature as some kind of children’s book where it’s all fluffy bunnies and cutesy pie. It’s warts and all, predator and prey and the real circle of life . . . and death. Another fine trait he has is he’s prepared to stand up and be counted when it comes to highlighting the injustices that occur in our countryside. He’s prepare to take the fire from the heavy hitters in the wildlife abuse industry and face them off using solid science and sound arguments.

Of course the “nasty brigade” as he so eloquently described them are now seriously irked and have taken it upon themselves to tarnish his considerable reputation via his employers, the BBC (and not for the first time). Apparently the BBC and Springwatch have editorial guidelines which prevent them from engaging in debate on controversial issues. However Chris isn’t on Springwatch discussing these issues but independently as Chris Packham the naturalist and the last time I looked it wasn’t a crime to express an opinion. Tim Bonner the Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance released a statement complaining bitterly, it is a rambling, slightly desperate attempt to justify their claims using words like “obsessive” and “extreme” when describing Mr Packham.

CA

It always amuses me when these people start these frothy mouthed rants, Boner . . . sorry Bonner is famous for them. They mostly consist of long winded diatribes lacking in any real substance. They paint themselves as the traditional land managers, guardians of the countryside no less while generalising wildly that anyone with compassion and an alternative point of view is some kind of demented and dangerous terrorist on a par with IS. Well, they certainly don’t fool me and I’m pretty sure the only people who enjoy having this much sunshine blown up their arses are their animal abusing cohorts and lackies. The simple fact is times are changing. The CA may be big, rich and powerful but these Victorian attitudes to our landscape belong in the past and it’s only a matter of time before they go the same way as the dinosaurs. Chris Packham is only telling it like it is and that scares the crap out of them.

Of course this is all the more relevant right now after the Government refused to ban snares yet again (see here) even though the only MP’s to vote against the proposition were pro-hunting and shooting, like Simon Hart (member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and also, unsurprisingly Chairman of the CA) but also that the start of the Grouse shooting season will be soon upon us, the inglorious 12th. The series of short videos made by Chris and showing the real price of Grouse Shooting are hugely effective and gaining significant coverage. He’s also urging Marks and Spencer to stop selling Grouse on the basis that the management of the moors from which they are shot is unethical.

It’s very hard to argue against what are undoubted the facts. These include the failure of Hen Harriers to breed in the Forest of Bowland once again, an area which should be their stronghold, purely due to illegal persecution from Gamekeepers. Shooting estates and Grouse moors in particular are wildlife wastelands, raptors and mammalian predators are conspicuous by their absence, they are man made environments designed purely for the benefit of raising an unnatural level of game birds, game birds which will be shot, for fun, by a very small minority.

These are the facts and as such are undeniable. It doesn’t matter how many teddies you chuck out your pram they are never going to change.

Ban Driven Grouse Shooting

For more info visit the excellent Raptor Persecution UK

UPDATE: Chris Packham’s management have just issued this statement.

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The nasty brigade show are showing their true colours once again. As one person commented, “they don’t like it up em!”. Indeed they don’t.

A week or so ago an email from a Ben Kaye dropped into the Accidental inbox. He asked if I’d do a review for a book he’d created along with illustrator Stu Jones which was to be released shortly (25th June) by the Badger Trust at Lush in Oxford Street. This would make a pleasant change I thought and certainly something new for yours truly to get involved with. It had already been endorsed by the likes of Chris Packham and Nigel Marven along with the CEO of the Badger Trust, Dominic Dyer. I had no idea what to expect but is described thus:

“Raised on fireside tales of “The Ones Who Walk Above”, a young badger leaves his loving home on a quest to find the truth behind the legends. Many adventures lie ahe􀀈ad as he searches for the mythical “Promised Land”, but,􀀊will his curiosity end in sorrow, or lead to salvation for the creatures that call the countryside their home?

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I eagerly downloaded the pre-release copy and opened it up.

What I was faced with was a delightful children’s book, illustrated in a charming and distinctive manner. As someone with a design background I really appreciated the aesthetic style that Stu Jones had employed. In among the full-page illustrations were the words of Ben Kaye, short verses that form the perfect symbiotic relationship with the images that paint their own literary picture.

What makes this stand out however is the message. It’s not all sugar-plum fairies and fluffy bunnies. It pulls no punches, is extremely moving and the reader is left in little doubt who the bad guys are. The realities of our countryside are spelled out in a manner which everyone, bold old and young will appreciate and understand and I take my hat off to the producers for doing it this way. I sent the author my quote below and I support this endeavour 100%.

“This is the reality of the British countryside and the struggle of it’s inhabitants to survive, illustrated beautifully to go alongside the poignant narrative. This is much more than just an illustrated children’s book and a tale of a badger and I hope it will inspire a new generation of wildlife warriors to continue the fight for our natural heritage”.

AA

http://www.theoneswhowalkabove.com/