Posts Tagged ‘Foxes’

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, that’s largely to do with being fairly busy at work and also not wanting to sit in my studio in front of a computer wearing my pants and sweating like George Adams in Peterborough Magistrates Court. However my desire to comment on a recent news story was enough to put fingers to keyboard once again (that and more reasonable temperatures).

The Hunt Investigation Team were the people behind the now famous Herefordshire Hunt Fox Cub case, and while undertaking a new investigation of the Barlow Hunt in Derbyshire they were contacted by someone with regards to the persecution of predators which was being undertaken by known local bloodsports enthusiasts within the Peak District National Park. This program of predator control consisted of a vast network of Larsen traps (invented in Denmark where incidentally they are now banned for being inhumane) and the shooting of foxes at a time when both species would have dependent young that would no doubt starve.

Now this sort of thing is common practice on heavily managed Grouse moors where maximum bags of Grouse mean big financial benefits to the owners of the shoot however in this instance the organisation who commissioned this cruelty was in fact the RSPB.

This isn’t anything new, the RSPB carry out culling of certain species on their reserves if they deem that they represent a critical problem to endangered birds or present a risk to the habitat however in this instance it would seem they excelled themselves. Killing one animal to save another is, they claim a last resort however it would seem in this case they were employing the very people that they are meant to oppose.

You have to ask yourself how can they fight against the culling of Ravens on one hand and with the other massacre their close relatives with another? The population of foxes is in severe decline (41% since 1996) so why are these wonderful animals being further persecuted by a so called environmental charity?

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A Curlew on the Isle of Mull

It all comes down to the Curlew.

The Curlew was cited as the reason a dodgy collective of shooting interests got together (Strathbraan Community Collaboration for Waders (SCCW)) and was granted a license to kill Ravens in Scotland, something the RSPB rightly challenged although this has now been suspended after being proven to be devoid of any scientific justification and anyone with an IQ above 30 would know this was more about protecting Grouse than Curlew.

The Curlew is, it seems top of the list of birds that require action to prevent the further decline in their population. However the RSPB themselves will claim that the biggest threats to the Curlew are environmental. Both harmful farming methods and poor land management are the reason the Curlew has suffered so much. Exterminating predators that may or may not impact on the current population is not an acceptable course of action to take and certainly one many of their members will feel uneasy about.

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Perhaps it should read “giving some nature a home, others a bullet”?

I’m lucky enough to have seen many Curlew, nearly all while on Holiday on the Isle of Mull. While Mull doesn’t have foxes it does have a very healthy Raven and Hooded Crow (a very close relative of the Carrion Crow) population along with many raptors and other mustalid predators. So what makes them so successful there?

The ideal environment for them, ample nesting sites and feeding opportunities with little or no disturbance from humans.

As far as I’m concerned everything has a right to life, killing one species to save another is, in my eyes a very slippery slope indeed and even more so when the people doing the killing are those which you oppose in every other aspect of your work. Rather than undertaking these hugely questionable practices they should be concentrating on restoring the habitat and rewilding the very areas that are so poorly managed. When the people at the HIT got in touch with the RSPB the response they got was poor to say the least (you can read the whole story here). You would expect an organisation with these kind of huge resources to respond properly and at least attempt to offer some kind of justification but it appears they are above all that. There’s no doubt they do some good work but many people, including myself will now be considering their membership in light of these disgraceful practices.

UPDATE: It seems the RSPB have responded after the pressure was mounting on them to provide some sort of explanation. You can read it here. Quite frankly it falls well short of the mark and judging by the comments they will be losing many members and the money which goes with them.

Interestingly one comment highlighted an article by the excellent George Monbiot and gives an insight into the thinking of the RSPB and the problem with their “solution”. You can read it here.

You may remember the story from September (see here) involving the serious injury to a sab caused by a red coat from the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt when he deliberately rode her down while she had her back to him. To add insult to injury the hunt support then blocked the attending emergency vehicles, wasting valuable time in treating her potentially life threatening injuries.

They have of course been carrying on hunting regardless and last Saturday evening had their hunt ball with a days hunting prior to donning the party frocks and toff togs. Of course being an organisation that refuses to accept violence in any form the Hunt Saboteurs thought it might be a nice idea to remind them of this fact on one of their biggest days of the year.

Around 100 sabs, from groups as far apart as Cornwall & Norfolk and everything in between got together in a show of solidarity to let the hunters know they’re still in our sights and we don’t back down from intimidation. The hunt panicked on the day when they saw the fleet of 15 or so vehicles arrive. The call went out to get as many of “their boys” in as possible, but a few bumpkins acting tough really aren’t anything to worry about. It was a busy and tiring day, but absolutely worth it.

I’d go back tomorrow if the call went out. Enjoy the video.

Complete change of target this week and a new one for myself personally as various sab groups targeted the Grouse Moors around Holmfirth.

Grouse shooting is legal, however killing an animal purely for the pleasure of doing so is clearly repugnant for an normal person with a moral compass. Ignoring the fact that the Grouse will die in huge numbers the intensive management of the moors is massively detrimental to many other forms of wildlife. Any bird or animal which could possibly compete with the Grouse are systematically exterminated, regardless of protective status. Even for the poor old Hare can suffer as it has the potential to carry disease which could affect the Grouse. Foxes, Stoats, Weasels, Corvids and Raptors all suffer at the hands of game keepers as they raise artificially high numbers of Grouse for the financial elite to blast from the sky while dressed in tweed and flat caps. The biodiversity of grouse moors is severely lacking compared to those which have no shooting and yet the shooting industry will always claim they’re acting for the good of the environment.

Tweedtastic!

Tweedtastic!

This is of course complete nonsense. The Hen Harrier is a prime example. This wonderful raptor will soon become extinct in England if action isn’t taken. It’s currently protected and persecution of this bird carries a severe sentence however gaining a conviction against those committing the crimes is hugely difficult when the habitat is miles of open moorland. This is why shooting estates need licensing. Birds found illegally killed or nests destroyed should immediately mean the estate on which it occurs loses its license for that season. Hitting them where it hurts, (in the pocket) is the only message they’ll understand. What’s even more galling is the fact that we’re paying towards the upkeep of these estates as our taxes go towards the millions handed out in land subsidies. Something from which we get nothing in return. Even the licensing of shotguns is subsidised by us. Something which Cameron personally approved.

So it kinda feels good to ruin the fun of these people.

Please sign the petition to ban driven Grouse shooting if you haven’t already. Click 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