Posts Tagged ‘Gamekeeper’

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.

Hen-Harrier_RN

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.

hare-cull

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.

20638288_1327240374053916_4926492627151636910_n

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.

Stink pile 1

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.

 

 

It’s been a busy week news wise in the world of wildlife protection but 2 main stories caught the eye. First off was the release of evidence showing the wanton destruction of wildlife by gamekeepers connected to the Grouse Shooting industry in the Peak District National Park including the illegal killing of Badgers. This was release by H.I.T (Hunt Investigation Team), the same people who exposed the South Herefordshire Hunt when  they fed live fox cubs to the hounds at their kennels.

The footage they released is very disturbing and shows the level of persecution our wildlife is submitted to all in the name of game shooting. Of course this is nothing new to me but their videos are hard hitting and combined with the fact that this is a national park and close to several wildlife sanctuaries is doubly worrying. Their undercover investigation was centered round the Moscar Estate, owner by the Duke of Rutland. Take a look at their website for the full details (link above) and more videos. It’s a great bit of work no doubt undertaken in trying circumstances and I take my hat off to them.

 

Next up was a story broke by Stop the Cull and centered around allegations that The League Against Cruel Sports were going to lay off all their investigators and had been infiltrated at the highest levels by pro hunt supporter. This of course led to all sorts of arguments on social media so I did a little digging myself and had it confirmed by a current LACS employee that they were going through a consultation process prior to restructuring. In the real world that just means that they were effectively on notice prior to being laid off.

STC then released an anonymous email which had been sent to them. See below:

The recent events at The League Against Cruel Sports and the attempt to get rid of investigators has caused a lot of distress, anger and confusion for LACS members, those that are just against bloodsports, animal rights campaigners and staff members themselves. As somebody who operates within the league and has a first hand account of day to day events I felt that I must intervene and clear up one or two points. This is not an official statement as you will see below.

> > > > First, many of the staff at the League are a great dedicated team of people, working hard to help protect animals from bloodsports, but it only takes one or two in a high level position, with their own personal agendas, to cause a company or organisation to go off target and here is a sad example below.

> > > > Much comment on social media has been made of the Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Goncalves, but you should be looking at the person who really is controlling the league at the moment, Phillipa King and question her position and motives. A person who owns horses and rides among a fox hunting community, deep within hunting country in the South of England, lives an exceptionally lavish lifestyle and has never had any interest in animal protection in her life, including to present day. She came here to LACS not very long ago and her role was a relatively minor one, but then she was suddenly made head of operations, basically controlling the day to day operations of the whole organisation, including how the investigators worked. She has NO knowledge, NO former experience and absolutely NO skills in operational work whatsoever, coming from a background of modelling and other unsuited jobs, but here she is, earning well over fifty thousand pounds a year and HEAD of operations, earning almost three times as much as what the investigators earn and as Eduardo, the CEO, is sick for the next few months, incredibly, Phillipa King is now acting Chief Executive Officer.

Her decisions and general behavior has caused members of staff to reluctantly resign and many hundreds of thousands of pounds to be wasted. She is responsible for huge amounts of League money to be squandered on ill thought out ideas which come to nothing. She is now persuading the League to move away from hunting and onto other non hunting related issues. She stays at 5 star hotels and recently permitted people, working for her and on behalf of the League, to stay at the Hilton Hotel on League money.

Since Phillipa became acting CEO she has instigated and implemented the removal of ALL League employee investigators and has attempted to keep the plan from as many staff as possible until she was ready to role the plan out. The “consultation” is just a legal process before the investigators are all sacked. Phillipa has already begun employing outside source investigators who know nothing about the issues and work just for the money and not for the animals. They cost far more than the present, experienced, knowledgeable and highly motivated investigators and so again we must question her motives, not just about this but about all of her actions and decisions since she has been in the position to influence trusties, staff and even members.

Phillipa has clearly not realised the repercussions of her actions, but she will understand the damage it is causing this charity. If people want an organisation that works hard, spends prudently and gets results which actually makes a difference then people should be concerned that this person has control and influence of such an organisation.

I then decided to do a little digging on Philipa King (or Peck). It would seem she’s had no previous work experience in the animal welfare sector but in fact worked for religious organisations. Although not an issue in itself I’m always slightly concerned by religious leanings as the bible promotes dominion over all animals and many hunters seem to hold these same views. I also had a very quick trawl through the friends list on her Facebook profile and revealed an interest person (see below).

CH

This is a composite image from her facebook page, notice the likes and group membership. You would think a person like Philipa working in a senior manager position for an organisation dedicated to the defence of our wildlife would be a little more careful with the sort of friends she kept. This, to me clearly illustrates that the LACS job is nothing more than that, a job, and she clearly has no real interest in the cause as a whole. Whether she’s actually a CA plant is another matter but regardless of that it appears to be a bad appointment from someone looking in from the outside. Interestingly shortly after my discovery Philipa changed the security settings on her profile and hid all her friends.

Yesterday I received a text message from a friend who had attended the LACS AGM and she voiced her conclusions in no uncertain terms. Now obviously this is only the opinion of an individual but its interesting none-the-less. She said:

“It is my belief that they (LACS) have done a deal with the CA (Countryside Alliance) to leave prosecutions well alone. The current executives are corrupt and have deliberately done nothing with the evidence gathered by their own investigators”.

If this is indeed the case then it is a truly sorry state of affairs. The investigators at LACS are a highly professional and specialised group of people who constantly put themselves in physical danger to gain the evidence required to bring these criminals to justice. If the senior management at LACS aren’t doing anything with this evidence then its down to them and not the people at the coal face taking all the risks. If LACS were to dispense with their services they would become nothing more than a lobbying group who’s real goals would be somewhat shrouded in uncertainty. Should they outsource the investigations side of things then they would be wide open to more infiltration by unscrupulous individuals.

My own personal view is that there has been a complete loss of faith in the senior management, both Philipa and Eduardo Concalves don’t seem to trust each other and certainly have different ideas about how to proceed. The trustees have no practical experience are clearly at a loss as well and are blundering blindly down a path that could spell disaster and seriously compromise the fight against illegal hunting. I hope this situation can be resolved and LACS can get back to what they once were. However all know now is the CA must be laughing their socks off, hunts will feel empowered to continue to break the law and that can’t be allowed to continue .

lacs

While I was away on Holiday I had the chance to watch one of our most majestic birds of prey, the Hen Harrier, also known as Skydancers due to their spectacular breeding flying displays. On Mull there is a reasonable population and they are fairly easy to locate given a little knowledge and the ability to sit and observe quietly.

Hen-Harrier_RN

A stunning male Hen Harrier – photo: Robin Newlin

However as you may have heard these birds are now making the main stream news (BBC , SkyIndependent) due to their desperately low numbers in the UK and England especially. The  population survey revealed that in England (2016) there are now only 4, yes 4 breeding pairs. Hen Harriers are upland birds, they like open moorland and hunt a variety of birds and small mammals and this is why they are at risk of extinction in England. While there is suitable habitat for over 300 breeding pairs the vast majority of that habitat is managed for Grouse shooting.

hh-territorial-pairs-2010_2016Grouse shooting is big business, very big. On an exclusive, driven shoot that cost can run up to and over £1000 a gun. The shoots owners want the biggest number of birds for their clients to shoot and so intensively manage the moors to provide the optimum habitat and minimum threat to their game bird numbers. Heather is burnt to provide fresh new shoots for the birds to eat, medicated grit is put down to help against disease and predators are exterminated. This creates a completely artificial habitat where Grouse numbers are excessively high and biodiversity low.

“The reasons for the population changes are likely to be a combination of factors that vary from region to region. From previous research, it is known that the main factor limiting the UK hen harrier population is illegal killing of these birds associated with driven grouse moor management in northern England and parts of mainland Scotland” – Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director

The extermination of predators takes the form of trapping with fen traps for Stoats & Weasels, the snaring of Foxes (and probably Badgers), (Mountain Hares are shot in huge numbers in Scotland because its believed they carry a virus which can effect Grouse) the use of Larsen traps for Corvids and also the shooting, poisoning and trapping of birds of prey. While some predator control is perfectly legal (but morally abhorrent) any persecution of raptors is illegal. The Hen Harrier is a schedule 1 protected species, this is the highest afforded protection offered by law however this doesn’t stop them from being illegally killed by Gamekeepers (along with many other birds of prey), no doubt under instruction from their employers.

5600babd-29d4-41a7-8900-111753c51aa1-2060x1236

The female Hen Harrier – photo: Alamy

Due to the remote nature of Grouse moors and the solitary existence of the sociopaths that are gamekeepers, catching and prosecuting these criminals is extremely hard. Even when solid evidence is produced it seems once again that money and social standing become a get of jail free card. The Countryside Alliance, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) and the Game & Wildlife Trust will make lots of noises about how intensive management is good for wildlife and some ground nesting bird species in particular and how raptor crime is committed by just a few bag eggs but this is nothing more than smoke and mirrors are far from the truth. Sure some species may benefit from what they do but any thriving ecosystem needs a top to bottom balance of predator and prey species and managed Grouse moors are nothing like this. And the “few bad eggs” claim is complete nonsense. The science simply does not back up these claims and the illegal persecution of raptors is endemic in the gamekeeping community.

I have met quite a few keepers in my time and I’ve yet to meet one who I’d consider a ‘normal’ person. They are nearly all loner types with a pathological hatred for all predators and a love for killing things. They seem to show a complete lack of compassion and empathy – these are the type of traits exhibited by murders and there is a direct scientifically proven link between those who kill animals going on to kill people.

The most galling aspect of this is we, the tax payer are supporting this. Grouse moor owners get huge Government subsidies to the tune of millions each year and yet they provide virtually nothing in the form of food for the human population. Whether this will continue after we leave the EU remains to be seen however it shouldn’t be the case in the first place. Why should these land owners take money from the general population so a very rich minority can blast an intensively reared game bird from the sky in large numbers while our native predators and Hen Harriers in particular become extinct due to their actions. The situation needs to change before we lose this iconic species.

If you want to get involved Hen Harrier days are being arranged across the country with more to be finalised soon, see below.

harrier days

UPDATE:

The Game & Wildlife Trust has responds to the survey results. You can read it over on the excellent Raptor Persecution UK site along with their comment. When you read this you’ll understand what our wildlife is up against and I’m as blown away as the people at RPUK.

I’m back home once again after another few days in the North Cotswolds cull zone. We have a team there 7 days a week, some are resident and some, like myself come and go, fitting in work and family commitments where they can, but there will always be cover both night and day. Most of us are experienced cull fighters and we’ve developed a really good system which allows us to maximize our efforts and concentrate on the areas which need us the most while monitoring the areas which would appear to be under less threat.

We’ve also had several new people join in and while it can seem a daunting task as first they are coming on leaps and bounds and will hopefully turn into fine sabs. It’s a steep learning curve but all you need is a strong desire to do what’s rights and the rest will usually follow.

Without going into operational details I will say that we are without doubt having a huge effect and it must annoy the hell out of the other side. What is clearly obvious is how new technology is being embraced and used to maximum effect. The videos emerging showing the trappers and shooters caught in their dirty act, the use of drones, radios, night vision and thermal imagers – never before have activist had access to this sort of technology and they are making it count and the other side are playing catch up. Of course all the tech in the world can’t make up for good old fashioned leg work, field craft and experience. Sometimes nothing more than a hunch will provide dividends and lives are saved.

We also accept that there will be casualties.

We can’t be everywhere all the time, if we had thousands of people we could protect every sett in the zone but that isn’t the case and with Defra (or the NFU as they seem to dictate Government policy) abandoning the 6 week maximum duration for culling they will no doubt hit their ‘plucked from thin air’ targets. This kind of thing only goes to prove that disease control and cost are in no way relevant to this situation.

Speaking of cost there could be some good money to made out there collecting all the scrap metal in the form of flattened cages. Reports on social media from the various zones in the South West would suggest that cages are being found and destroyed in large numbers. Badgers are being found and released regularly, it’s a heart warming thing to witness. Back to the cost side of things Defra once again display their complete ineptitude by claiming they don’t know how much it costs to prepare & loan out the cage traps. Mr TBFree sent a FOI request and got the predictable whitewash as an answer in return. Read more about it here including the complete response from Defra.

If you want to be part of this please get in touch and I’ll point you in the right direction. There are jobs for everyone from cooks to stealth operatives and everything in between. More boots on the ground mean more lives saved and a big F*CK YOU to the wildlife abusers. We’re fighting a war for our countryside. Lets make sure there’ll be wild animals out there for the generations to come and not some barren wasteland, managed only for an elite few who get their perverted kicks by killing and abusing animals.