Posts Tagged ‘Defra’

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.

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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.

Now I’m fairly sure most people like to get good value for money. It’s a simple fact that paying over the odds for services or products is to be avoided, it’s simple economics and applies to the man on the street right up to the Government and their policies.

The Badger Cull in England has been a financial disaster alone and that’s completely ignoring the tragic waste of life and cruelty subjected to one of our most iconic species. With the expansion in culling these costs are only going to increase but current estimations are in the region of £50 million to the public purse, that’s a hell of a lot of money by any measure.

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Of course the National Farmers Union and their stooges at Defra will churn out the now fairly standard response of; “Bovine TB is the greatest animal health threat to the UK and costs taxpayers more than £100m each year” but that’s largely an irrelevant if the policy they support won’t work and the money is simply being wasted.

Of course we’ve known all this for some time and I’ve written about the cull at length before but the news story breaking this week was from a targeted cull which took place in Wales. For those that don’t know a targeted cull will only take place in a small area on farms which suffer consistent bTB breakdowns. Badgers will be trapped and tested on site for TB, those being found to be positive will be killed.

Now for those who agree that livestock should have a higher priority over wildlife (that’s not me by the way) this would seem to be a fairly logical solution. However once the results came in it came as somewhat as a shock in more than one way.

37 badgers trapped and tested. 5 tested positive and killed. Post-mortem tests showed only 1 of these was positive and none were actually infectious.

Total Costs: £383,112

That’s £76,6222 per non-infectious badger.

Now I’m no economist but that doesn’t look much like value for money to me.

Well known biologist and extremely clever person Rosie Woodroffe summed things up on her Twitter feed.

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Rubbish blood test indeed Rosie.

Not only was this utterly wasteful in terms of value (and life) it also showed the reality of bTB occurring in livestock and the role badgers play. However that didn’t stop the pro cull numpties from trying their luck.

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We’re not really sure how Bob here managed to come to that conclusion considering none were infectious and shows their desire to just kill badgers but he was suitably corrected by the real scientist.

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Game, set and match to Miss Woodroffe.

It’s no great leap of faith to suggest that similar figures could be applied to the 35,000 badgers already killed in England, over 30,000 would have been perfectly healthy and of those tested positive, none may have been infectious which once again means that £50 million already spent killing healthy badgers will do nothing in reducing bTB and is a complete waste of money.

Your money.

And the Government want to spend  more of your money on this cruel and pointless exercise, in fact they’ve already started. The best we can do is take the most effective form of action. Non-violent, direct action. It’s time to get involved. Contact your local sab group or check here for more info.

Note: We’re working very hard in surveying potential new culling zones and will be on the front line when the killing starts. If you can’t physically help please consider helping us with the costs. You can donate quickly and simple right here: Donate

That’s the maximum number of badgers that can be killed in this horrific extension of the Governments extermination policy.

Just think about that for a moment.

That’s more than the average attendance of Spurs home matches last season. Imaging the old White Hart Lane with the stands full of dead badgers. There will be vast swathes of the south west and Cheshire where badgers will be wiped out. Setts that have existed for hundreds of years will fall silent. This iconic species relegated to the pages of history, never to return.

I started this blog back in 2014 on the back of the original culls to highlight the injustice taking place in our countryside. Now, almost 4 years and 4 Defra secretaries down the line we’re still fighting the same fight.

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The original cull zones (the so-called trials) have been extended until who knows when and with a total of 19 zones you begin to get an idea of the scale of this extermination. There has been no improvement in bTB results (an insignificant reduction in Somerset, an increase in Gloucestershire and a huge increase in Dorset) and yet the Government are wildly blundering ahead with a failing and hugely expensive policy. An expensive policy that you, the tax payer are footing the bill for.

With this being the case you have to ask yourself why this is taking place. I’ve made my point of view patently clear on several occasions and anyone fighting against this grotesque and cruel policy will no doubt have a similar opinion by what they’ve seen first hand. The Government know it’s not going to work but the NFU want it and they will get whatever they want. Badgers (they believe) are a pain in the arse for their members. Being a protected species they can’t be killed legally (although many are illegally killed throughout the year) so this cull is a way to circumnavigate this law.

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If they were really concerned with disease control do you think this trap would be left in this state?

There’s no independent monitoring, any moronic bumpkin with a shotgun and a hatred for the wildlife on their land can sign up for the cull in the relevant areas. We’ve already seen time and again that biosecurity rules are being openly flouted. This is about killing as many as possible in the 6 weeks allotted time and bugger the rules. Farms in these zones are often a disgrace, slurry is spread on the fields, animal are kept in disgusting conditions and shooting estates have no livestock anyway, just game birds to protect.

To witness these events first hand is soul destroying. No amount of lobbying, petitions and words are going to change the fact that badgers are being killed now. Sab groups across the country are working their socks off, juggling work and private lives around saving as many lives as possible, taking the action needed night and day in all weathers, whatever the personal and financial cost. The Wounded Badger Patrollers are out there walking the footpaths at night to dissuade shooters. Local people are getting involved where they can but we need more. There can never be enough. Perhaps if you’re reading this you may consider getting in touch with your local sab group and lending a hand. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, but boots on the ground are more important now that ever before.

The cruelty is making the front page in mainstream nation news (Mirror, Sun) and no doubt more will be published soon. In years to come when your children or perhaps grandchildren look back on these dark times for British wildlife and our countryside is a barren monoculture devoid of all wild things will you sit there and regret you did nothing to stop this travesty or will you explain to them you were part of a small but dedicated band of people who stood up to the immorality of the situation and took on the souless men with guns and a Government driven by greed and defeated them with compassion and the will to do the right thing?

“The only thing necessary for the truimph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing”.

Get out there. Help f*ck some sh*t up.

Hunt Saboteurs

Stop the Cull

This week I have a guest blog for you and it’s written by National Dis-Trust.  They are a group of voluntary campaigners from across the country calling on The National Trust to save their reputation & kick off the criminal hunts from NT land. They are working alongside other grassroots groups and volunteers for this sole objective.

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Convicted wildlife killers the Meynell Hunt still use NT land

Earlier this year in March, staff from The League Against Cruel Sports met with The National Trust to talk about concerns relating to illegal hunts on their land, concerns
which are shared by an increasing amount of people. The League’s statement on this meeting shows that The Trust make little effort to enforce or monitor the conditions that
the hunts agree to; instead, the hunts simply state they are adhering to the licenses, regardless of the truth. Subsequent internal discussions within The Trust, it seems, have
resulted in little change and apparently no further correspondence with The League. Subsequent to this meeting, The Trust claimed it would do more for declining wildlife – strange, then, that they rejected The League’s offer of assistance in monitoring hunts on their land, given that brown hares (a priority of conservation) sometimes find
themselves amongst the unfortunate legion of victims. We can’t imagine why they would
refuse such an offer.

If you flick around The Trust’s website for long enough, you may find their (seemingly
deliberately hidden) policy that demonstrates their unwavering faith in so-called ‘trail
hunting’ whilst conveniently omitting all information regarding their licensing of fox
hunting in Northern Ireland, where this bloodsport sadly remains legal, hence the
existence of the campaign group ‘Ban Fox & Stag Hunting Northern Ireland’. Given the
overwhelming opposition to these ‘sports’, is this not something The Trust should tell the
public before taking their subscriptions?

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There are two huge problems with their ‘trail hunt’ policy; the first is the Trail Of Lies
report published by The International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) in 2015. This
report drew on hundreds of field reports from hunts across the country and surprisingly,
99% of them failed to lay ‘trails’. The Trust’s Director-General, Dame Helen Ghosh, is
well aware of this evidence; it has been presented to her and she has read it (watch this
video of a lecture she gave as proof, from 59:30 to 63:00), though seemingly to no avail.
The second is that it is not actually legal to use fox urine to lay ‘trails’ for a myriad of
reasons, and that the supplier of fox urine that some hunts tell The Trust they use doesn’t
actually exist (shocker!). A recent Freedom of Information request to DEFRA’s Animal &
Plant Health Agency (APHA) has revealed that there have been only one license granted
for importing fox substance from 2014 onwards, and it wasn’t related to hunting. As with
the ‘Trail Of Lies’ report, The Trust are well aware of these facts.

Fox hunting, and the fate of The Hunting Act 2004 which remains the only real legal
protection for the brown hare, were huge issues in the election earlier this year. Some
Conservative MP’s who lost their seats said fox hunting was a crucial factor in the result.
The blind arrogance of those who think fox hunting has a future even led Countryside
Alliance CEO, Tim Bonner, to claim that the Conservative landslide would result in a
majority of 103 seats. The irony in this is that earlier in the year, Dame Helen Ghosh was giving talks under the title of ‘What Are The Challenges Facing The National Trust In The 21st Century?’

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So perhaps it is time The Trust heeded the message of the recent election. You need only briefly skim their Facebook page to see how little weight their defense of ‘trail hunting’ is carrying with the general public, and no wonder; fox hunting and their counterpart packs for hares or mink and otters rightly sicken the overwhelming majority of us, and few people believe in the lies of the hunt lobby anymore. On mink hunting, The Chair and Founder of The UK Wild Otter Trust, Dave Webb, recently offered an unexpected (but welcome) interjection by stating that not only did he believe that mink hunts were continuing to hunt illegally (regardless of your opinion of mink, it is illegal to pursue them with packs of hounds) but that they also implied that they considered them to be pursuing otters, which are thankfully increasing in number. He said if proof was brought to his organisation, he would begin to take legal proceedings. The National Trust, on the other hand, appear to have no objection to offering ‘trail hunt’ licenses to mink-packs.

So what can people do about this? Well, a members resolution has now been submitted to put a stop to these ‘trail hunt’ licenses on The Trust’s land. It will be put to a vote on 21st October this year, at their AGM. Anybody who has been a member for 70 days before this date is entitled to a vote, according to their regulations. We urge anybody capable of doing so to offer their votes to this end, and help us shut down ‘trail hunting’ on Trust land.