Posts Tagged ‘Deer’

I bit of a long post today but please bear with me as it needs a detailed write up to do the subject justice.

You may remember last October (see here) I reported on an incident where four hunt saboteurs were arrested for Aggravated Trespass whilst coming to the aid of a Roe Deer which had been attacked by the hounds of the Surrey Union hunt. The defendants only had the welfare of the injured animal at heart and so entered the private land to aid the animal as best they could however the deer was subsequently destroyed by a member of the hunt. The case was heard this week and before I give the outcome I thought it best to go over the evidence supplied by both the prosecution and the defense.

The original police statement at the time was as follows:

“Surrey Police officers attended a location near Ewhurst on Saturday 25 October where the Surrey Union Hunt were taking part in an organised trail hunt.

At around 1pm, a small number of protestors entered onto a field adjacent to the hunt which was on private land. The group were warned by officers that they were trespassing and although given a clear direction to leave, they remained on the land.

Three men and a woman were arrested at the scene of suspicion of aggravated trespass contravening section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and taken into custody. They were later released on conditional bail until November 21 and 22.

During the hunt, a deer was injured and subsequently had to be humanely put down. Officers at the scene investigated the circumstances and enquiries remain on-going. *The deer was discovered in a ditch which was bordered by brambles and barbed wire which early indications suggest may have caused the injuries it sustained.

There were no injuries on the deer or other evidence to suggest it had been attacked by the hounds. At this time no offences relating to the injuries sustained by the deer have been established.”

Before we cover the police statement which show’s a complete lack of knowledge and impartiality in it’s own right we’ll go over the statements provided. First of Mrs Dunsden (described in the statement as Hunt Leader) who states:

“The hunt was a trail hunt where a they had a previously scented trail for the hounds to follow. No live animals where to be hunted and if the hounds caught the scent of a live animal the master of the hounds would call off the dogs as per agreed procedure”. She goes on to note that “Protestors were present and some had their faces covered”. One particular part of the statement is quite interesting: “The hunts leader and members have provided statements confirming that hounds did not the hunt the deer and when they realised they had found a deer the hounds were called off”.

First off everyone knows the pre-laid scent trail story is nothing more than a cover to give an alibi for illegal hunting. It’s even been admitted as such by an anonymous huntsman in an article published by the Economist and the Surrey Union have killed again since this incident. This is why the hunting act needs to be strengthened to do away with this ridiculous situation and we need to have a police force which isn’t lead (or paid off) so easily by the hunts.

Regarding the second point and in terms of the case this is irrelevant and purely there to add a negative context with regards to the saboteurs.

Lastly the dog is a natural predator and a pack of dogs has a unique mentality which makes it more likely to want to hunt. Foxhounds are selectively bread to hunt, it’s their sole purpose in life and those that don’t make the grade are disposed off (usually a bullet to the head). Upon sighting or scenting a prey animal they will give chase, acting purely on instinct. I’ve seen fox hounds chasing deer many times, often beyond the control of the huntsman. I even supplied footage for the defense of this nature. But the question is, if the hounds weren’t hunting the deer why would they need to be called off? Surely if they weren’t hunting the deer it would have been ignored? Do we really think the hounds found a deer and then just stood there staring at it?

Hounds rioting on a Roe Deer

Foxhound, not chasing a deer.

This leads to the part of the statement by the police where they suggest the injuries caused to the animal were from barbed wire or brambles.

Well, the police are certainly not experts in this matter however Andrew Knight BSc. (Vet. Biol.), BVMS, CertAW, DipECAWBM (AWSEL), PhD, MRCVS, SFHEA – Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Winchester certainly is. In his independent report he states:

“The deer was also recumbent on its back. A large (approximately 4 cm) puncture wound was visible in the groin region, and the surrounding fur was matted with fluid and clearly bloodied, demonstrating marked, recent trauma. The large size of the puncture wound, and the amount of bleeding evident, were highly consistent with a dog attack.

The appearance of the skin and fur in this case were very strongly consistent with such causation. The likelihood of alternate causes such as fences, barbed wire or brambles vary from extremely unlikely to completely implausible”.

So the expert opinion clearly states that the injuries to the deer were not caused by any brambles or barbed wire. The negligence however doesn’t end there. The deer, now clearly in significant distress and unable to move is now subjected to considerable torment. Many sabs have wildlife care experience and those on the scene were the best placed to deal with the casualty before professional help arrived however, they were being arrested and the deer was left in the hands of possibly the least qualified person available, the hunts terrier man. These people deal in suffering, they care little for their own animals (who in their right mind would send their dog down a hole to fight another animal?) let alone a wild one in a state of severe distress and badly injured.

Having seen the police video of the incident I’m in no doubt all those present were grossly negligent and in no way acting with the best interests of the animal at heart. It was picked up by it’s legs, roughly handled, knelt on and at one point they also attempted to force it to run away. It was clear to anyone with half a brain that this animal was going nowhere and was showing all the signs of extreme stress.

Andrew Knight continues: “Additionally, it was clear at this stage, and shortly afterwards in the video, that the deer was unable to bear weight on it’s right hind leg. This occurred despite the close presence of humans, which would normally cause any wild deer capable of doing so, to flee. Such inability to weight-bear indicates very serious injury. When such injury has been inflicted from trauma, as in this case, the most likely cause is a fracture.

The footage also showed this deer displaying open-mouthed breathing and rapid breathing. These signs indicate a very high level of distress. Given the deer’s physical state the most likely cause of this would have been extreme pain. Due to the large number of pain receptors in the membrane immediately adjacent to bone, fractures are extremely painful. Another likely cause would have been extreme fear in the close presence of people whom the deer could not escape, which would have been even greater had the deer been recently attacked.

Despite the deer’s obviously severely injured and distressed state, there were several instances of inappropriate handling which would have worsened its condition. At one stage the deer was moved by being lifted by its legs and subsequently hung by its limbs. This would have been intensely painful if a fracture had been present, and would have probably added to the deer’s injuries, through tearing, stretching or weakening ligaments and muscles, and potentially further displacing bones or bony fragments. It would also have worsened the deer’s respiratory difficulties. In another example a person restrained the deer by kneeling on its chest, which would have been very distressing and may also have interfered with breathing, which was clearly already taxed.

The unfortunate deer

The unfortunate deer, note the blood and fur at the scene.

This deer was obviously severely injured. It should have been gently approached, and the eyes covered to simulate darkness. Noise should have been kept to a minimum. The deer should have been maintained in a natural position and gently covered with an appropriate material to maintain warmth, whilst awaiting veterinary attention. Should movement have been deemed necessary the deer should have been gently moved into sternal or lateral recumbency (ie, lying on its belly or side), and gently carried, perhaps on a stretcher. None of these steps were implemented in the video footage I viewed, and veterinary attention did not appear to have been requested by phone or in any other way.

Instead, medical assessments appear to have been made by a person described in the video as a terrier man. Without any reasonable attempt to examine the deer, such as gentle palpation, and apparently based on visual examination alone, this person attributed the deer’s obviously distressed state to it’s being “tired,” and declared the deer to be “unfit.” “I think the easiest option is to dispatch it,” he said. This was indeed one of the easiest options, but it was certainly not the best option. Far from being unfit, this deer appeared to be in good body condition. It is entirely possible that after appropriate veterinary attention this deer might have eventually recovered from its serious physical injuries, allowing its release back into the wild.

Instead of giving the deer this chance, it was shot with a captive bolt pistol. In such animals the target area containing the brain is quite small, and the correct location is sometimes misunderstood. If the target area is missed, extreme pain and a prolonged death can result. Accordingly, immediately after use of a captive bolt pistol, death should be confirmed via a stethoscope (detecting the absence of a heartbeat), and by confirming signs of death such as lack of breathing, pupillary dilation, and lack of ocular reflexes. No attempt was made to conduct any such examination in this animal. Instead, only seven seconds after being shot, the deer was once again hung by its legs and moved. If the deer had in fact remained conscious at this point, this experience would once again have been extremely distressing”.

So we have an animal that may have been destroyed unnecessarily, that was handled very badly by an unqualified person after being attacked by dogs which was being denied by the hunt. The situation doesn’t get any better.

Having read through all the witness statements including those from the police and spoken at length with the defendants one thing becomes abundantly clear. The police were acting on claims from the hunt and ignoring all word from the saboteurs present about the situation that had arisen. The police took the hunt at their word and failed so completely in seeing the bigger picture that a sentient mammal suffered the most unnecessary of ends. Yes the defendants were on private land and yes they had been asked to leave however the hunt were clearly acting in contravention of the Hunting with Dogs Act 2004 and an animal had clearly been attacked by the hounds of the hunt. For a Section 69 to be applicable you have to be interfering with a legal activity and this obviously wasn’t the case. Coming to the aid of an injured animal could also in no way be construed as unlawful interference, the hunt were obviously clearly aware of what had transpired and were desperate to cover it up and so the best way to do this was with the aid of the police present at the scene. With only the welfare of the animal in their minds the defendants ignored the warnings issued by the police to leave in an attempt to attend to the injured animal and were subsequently arrested.

Pro hunt comments on Facebook

Pro hunt comments on Facebook

As the defendants were being arrested they were cuffed and paraded in front of the hunt support where they were photographed by a hunter who passed them on to a certain Joanna McCarthy with a message to share them far and wide. She then proceeded to published them on social media in a pro hunt group and the usual barrage of insults and threats towards those being arrested was soon to follow. This kind of totally unprofessional policing once again implies the police are indeed way too close to the hunt and acting on their behalf regardless of the evidence in front of them and as you can see from the comments in the image above, the pro hunt lobby are showing their true light.

The case was heard over the 24th and 25th of March.

I can now confirm that all the defendants were acquitted. It was also noted in court that had the defendants been allowed access to the animal the outcome may have been significantly different.

Judge Turner concludes:

“All of you contribute immensely to society not only in the working lives but in your free time. [on the day] You deserve high praise for managing yourselves and your behaviour.” and “(name removed)”: you are a remarkable man.” ALL NOT GUILTY

This is of course excellent news but the fact it actually made it to court is, too the say least an unnecessary waste of time and money. Perhaps in the future the police will listen to the right people and more importantly than any costs incurred, animals lives can be saved.

 

Our wildlife is under constant pressure. Pressure from development and the demand for new land due to human expansion, the pressure of modern farming where if it doesn’t make money it’s considered a nuisance and the pressure of those who treat the environment as a plaything, to do with as they wish regardless of the long term consequences. This malevolent force is the same which releases millions of non-native birds into our ecosystems every year, with little chance of survival, purely for the benefit of a very small demographic with the sufficient funds and a love for killing, so they can be blasted from the sky purely for the enjoyment of killing a living thing. These people of course would never do their own dirty work, that is of course down to that most strange and disturbed individual better known as the Gamekeeper. Their sole purpose in life is to protect their valuable crop of Pheasants (or Grouse depending on where you are in the country) from anything which they perceive may do them harm or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Raptors suffer hugely at the hands of Gamekeepers, illegally persecuted with little chance of retribution although the RSPB and similar organisations are doing their best to bring these people to justice and with some success although seem to fail to take on the shooting industry directly. However what isn’t seen is the tragically legal persecution of our other species which goes on out of sight of the public. A grotesque yet common practice of trapping and snaring anything which just happens to inhabit the same piece of woodland where the pheasant pens are located.

S1170003

A detailed report with video and photos came into my possession which has to be put into the public domain. A small section of woodland was discovered which contained no less than 7 Larsen traps and various other cages (some containing live Magpies, designed to catch Corvids), over 10 Fen traps all set and some baited with eggs (these are designed to kill Weasels, Stoats and Rats) and most disgustingly 8 free running snares secured with breeze blocks or other heavy items. Snares are massively cruel and indiscriminate. Anything can become trapped in them and will then go on to suffer a slow and agonizing death or if they’re lucky something slightly less offensive in the form of the Gamekeepers shotgun or blunt instrument to the head. Deer, Foxes and Badgers can all fall prey to snares and family pets are just as likely should they wander in these areas. All of the devices described surrounded a Pheasant pen which in turn was surrounded by lots of shooting towers. Even though the pens were empty of Pheasants, the traps were still in operation.

The images are somewhat disturbing. The stench of death I’m told, will stay with those who were there for a long time to come. If you think this is an acceptable way to treat our wildlife then stop reading now, go back to reading your Daily Mail and prepare to vote UKIP or Tory in May. For everyone else with a decent level of compassion to our fellow beings I suggest you get involved and start to make a difference. Soon our wonderful and diverse countryside and the wildlife that lives in it will be diminished beyond a sustainable level, to be replaced with a sterile environment, overrun with a hapless non-native species and only good for those who like to kill things for fun. This is happening all over the country, what we’ve witnessed here is just a microcosm of the organised and systematic destruction of our native species. This is the true impact of the shooting industry and it’s time to make a change.

Sign the petition to ban snares here.

Oh dear. Not what you’d call good PR in light of recent news stories regarding the Royals and their wildlife saving credentials (also reported here) however I doubt any of those involved actually give any kind of a toss. Over 7000 wild birds and animals were killed on the Windsor Estate last year, figures from FIO request by Animal Aid show.  It really is staggering the level of killing that goes on, not just in the Royal parks and gardens but throughout the countryside. It’s endemic of the attitudes of those employed to manage these estates, it’s a killing culture and until that changes then the slaughter will sadly continue.

The Killing Fields?

The Killing Fields?

Let’s have a look at the numbers.

Pigeons 3,901, Rabbits 1,161, Jackdaws 772, Squirrels 325, Crows 191, Foxes 159, Rats 145, Muntjac 127, Parakeets 118, Magpies 70, Roe 56, Rooks 55, Hares 28, Jays 9, Moles 9, Mink 3.

Now let’s analyse the so called justification used for all that killing.

Foxes – Killed to save game birds. Well here we go again. I’m getting a bit fed up with this argument. Millions of pheasants are intensively reared each year and released into the countryside with little hope of survival if they’re not blasted out of the air by a toff wearing tweed or Barbour. Losing a few to Basil the Brush isn’t going to make any kind of a dent in the profits and removing a self-regulating (population wise) native predator is counterproductive as well as morally repugnant.

Corvids (Crows, Magpies, Rooks and Jays) – Removed (pfft . . . slaughtered more like) at the request of tenant farmers. I’ll tackle these all in one go as they’re very similar. Corvids are highly intelligent and capable of advanced problem solving and using tools. Because of this they’re highly adaptable and successful. They tend to get demonised (even by some bird watchers) for their egg & young bird predation (particularly the Magpie) however they’re not the cause in the decline of our songbird species. That’s largely due to habitat loss and modern industrial farming methods. They also eat lots of what farmers would deem as invertebrate pests so getting rid of them is a huge case of shooting yourself in your welly boot clad foot from the farmers point of view. Again, no justification there.

Moles – Killed to preserve the formal parks and sports ground. You can remove Moles humanely without the need to kill them and if you’re do damn precious about your lawn put an underground Mole fence round it to stop them getting in in the first place. A humane Mole trap only costs a fiver or so and I’m pretty sure the Royal estates aren’t short for a bob or two.

Hares – Just shot for sport I guess. I’ve covered this already (see link in first para) so won’t do it all again but despite a biodiversity action plan in place to reverse the trend in their decline they have little protection and while the estates are managed by a pro shooting manager then little will change.

KILL IT & KILL IT SOME MORE!

KILL IT & KILL IT SOME MORE!

Pigeons & Rabbits – At the request of tenant farmers. While common as species I doubt they do any real significant damage in the grand scheme of things and can’t help but think most were shot for the enjoyment of shooting a living wild target. It’s easy to put bird scarers up that’ll keep hungry beaks away from your crops.

Deer & Squirrels – At the request of the foresters. Well the Grey Squirrel is an invasive species but it’s here to stay now and while they can cause some damage I doubt killing them will be particularly effective. I think if they were encroaching on the native Red Squirrel habitat then there could be a justification but sadly the Red was pushed out of that part of England a long time ago. The killing of Deer will be justified by claiming a lack of apex predators to control numbers. Apex predators’ humans decimated a long time ago. We’re now just moving down the food chain as species bite the dust one by one. It’s a totally unsustainable process and has to stop.

Just to note, the Crown Estate’s net revenue surplus (profit) for the year that ended 31 March 2013 was £252.6 million. The Windsor portfolio is valued at £204million. I think they can afford to change.

While I’m having a whinge I noted that during the NFU conference this week (minus Paterson who still in hiding and wimping out) that farmers were still keen to get on with the slaughter of a protected species. Not only that but expected the tax payer to foot the bill. Well they can fuck off quite frankly. I’m not going to pay for you to free up land so you can make more money. George Useless sitting in for Paterson claims any decision on the roll out of the cull will be based on science, that’s it ladies and gents, you heard it first here – THERE WILL BE NO CULL.

But their science seems to be different from everyone else’s.

A final note about Gavin Grant who will step down as Chief Executive of the RSPCA due to a health issue. Gavin was often claimed by those who sought to discredit the organisation (The Countryside Alliance & its support) as controversial and leading the RSPCA into animal rights. Well cruelty is a right every animal should not to have to suffer regardless of whether it’s Tiddles the tabby, Flossy the sheep or indeed a Fox. Hopefully his replacement will be equally proactive and I hope Gavin returns to full health soon