Posts Tagged ‘Government’

Let’s face it, the Government are in a complete shambles. The Brexit debacle continues to rumble on with the mop topped bag of meat paste we call a Prime Minister trying to lie his way out of the biggest crises in British politics I can remember in my life time. I think this is one of the problems behind the lack of coverage of the Badger Cull this year. Defra have attempted to quietly slip in vast new swathes of our countryside where badgers can now legally be killed by those who are stupid enough to believe it will help solve the bTB problem in cattle or those who just have some pathological hatred for out wildlife, probably because they are unable to make some kind of profit from it.

I’m not going to go into all the science (of lack of) behind it all as I feel that has been covered plenty of times from lots of different sources already but what I will do is highlight just the sort of numbers we’re talking about here.

Take a look at the image below. It’s of the Emirates stadium, home to Arsenal Football Club.

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It holds just over 60,000 people. That’s a lot right?

The Government are allowing the NFU to kill up to 64,000 badgers. That’s 4000 more than the number of people in this picture. Just imagine that.

There have been 11 new cull zones added to those previously licensed bringing the number to 43 in total, an area bigger than Israel! (Guardian article)

Of course this makes it a very busy time for all those standing against it. Sabs and patrollers up and down the country are doing their very best to save the lives they can at a time when the hunts are also involved in their grubby little business of training their hounds to kill, better known as the cubbing season. Late nights and early mornings are the order of the day and now more than ever we need your help and support. Go to innocentbadger.com for more info and on how to get involved. You can also donate to our efforts by clicking the donate link in the header.

Of course we all hoped that with the introduction of a new head man at the helm of Natural England there would be some light at the end of the tunnel. Tony Juniper had previously came out as strongly against the cull on social media so it seemed we had, for once, someone who was prepared to stand up for wildlife and give Natural England the teeth it was so desperately lacking.

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However it now seems that an official position and a no doubt significant pay cheque is all that’s needed to subvert that opinion and become another lap dog for Defra and their masters at the NFU. Tony wrote a blog on his decision (see here) which has since been roundly criticised by both the general public and the scientific community alike but probably best done by Dominic Woodfield in his guest blog on Mark Avery’s site. (see here).

There is of course great work being done in the fields but it’s impossible to save them all.

Cages are being neutralised, a selection above from Devon, Cornwall and Staffordshire. Shooters are being sent packing and we’re using the best technology available to find and stop the killing, both in the air and on the ground but funds are limited and vast areas need to be covered so now, more than ever is the time to get involved. There’s a job for everyone so please, don’t sit there getting angry, get out there and help make a difference. When all other options have failed, direct action is all you are left with.

Something a little different for this blog post.

Becoming involved in the protection of wildlife through direct action can be a big step. I remember my first sab quite clearly and well, the rest as they say is history but I thought it may be interesting to get a newbies perspective after their first year on the front line against the hunters. So here it is, over to Titch . . .

I write this guest piece for MoreThanJustBadgers to mark a personal anniversary. Last Saturday was a year to the day since I first sabbed a fox hunt with my local group.
Before then, I was sat comfortably in my bubble of naivety. I had voted in the general election of 2001 guided by the prospect of a Hunting Act, having seen it pass into law I had thought that was that. Not until the Hunt Saboteurs Association managed to get into my twitter feed at the end of 2016, did I realise any differently.

Within a fortnight I was joining up with associates in the cause of animal welfare, learning the ways and language of the hunt, as well as the real reason for keeping your distance from heavily set, self-appointed, amateur ‘stewards’ (I’d have written something far less polite – Ed).

Over this past year I have been privileged to have campaigned and taken part in direct action against fox hunts, mink hunts, wild bird shoots and badger culling. I’ve witnessed untold numbers of animals escape with their freedom under the watch of sabs, and I have also sadly seen the deaths of some unfortunate creatures too. I’ve worked with people from the length and breadth of the UK, as well as activists from Europe too.

I learned that being vegan alone was not enough. Simply not taking part, allows horrors to be committed against animals week in week out. Compassionate and thoughtful people are needed to take a stand, to prevent what acts of cruelty they can, and to shine a light on what they can’t.

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The sun sets on another successful sab.

During the year I have been punched, kicked, threatened with weapons, driven at by quads and various 4×4’s, informed that I am going to be arrested, beaten up or even killed. I’ve seen friends beaten, bloodied, whipped and even arrested. I’ve spent time in muddy fields and wading streams, as well as in police interview rooms giving statements. Hunt sabbing has been exhilarating, as well as at times dangerous, but ultimately always rewarding and worthwhile.

The one constant throughout my first year of activism has been the unwavering attitudes of hunters. Every week they assemble, 11am sharp wearing the same dated outfits and following the same tired routines. They profess to be continuing their tradition, but in reality this is a rut. An endless cycle of pretence and theatrics constructed to deny the advance of time and sensibility. The same tired clichés are heard, “we’re hunting within the law, you antis spray hounds with acid and pull children off horses”, and so on. After attending a shade under 40 hunts in my first year, I have not once witnessed a trail being laid.

Policing has been variable at best. With some notable exceptions, most police officers have been content to turn their back on any reports of illegality by organised hunts, in favour of preserving public order. Of course, from a police officer’s point of view, thirty smartly dressed people riding horses in a field is perfectly good ‘public order’. Hunt sabs turning up and making a scene immediately brings that precious public order into question and on go the blue lights.

Will I still be sabbing this time next year? Almost certainly so. In five years? It’s certainly a possibility given the speed of change this country. Any further that that only time, and the House of Commons and future governments, will tell . . .

So, I’m sitting here at my desk at work, it’s Thursday the 22nd and the office is half empty. Anyone with any sense and holiday remaining has either buggered off to do the last of their Christmas shopping or even better stayed in and avoided the crowds. I’ve just finished my last job, the deadline has been met so I’m not going to start anything new. This of course give me time to reflect on the year and of course plan for Boxing Day, the biggest day in the hunting calendar.

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Looking back it would seem not a lot has changed, the Government are still ignoring the science of killing thousands of badgers for no reason at all other than the NFU want it and Defra are fudging the figures in order to claim success. Their success of course has nothing to do with the reduction of TB but just the numbers of badgers killed. They even had to massage the kill numbers down only a couple of weeks before the end of the culls as they knew they wouldn’t hit their own minimum targets. They’ve also stated that farmers will be able to continue killing and create badger free zones around beef and dairy farms. This wildlife eradication program could cause the local extinctions of the species which have been there for thousands of years and will have zero effect on TB rates, but then we all know this has nothing to do with TB. The small numbers who went out there and challenged this did an amazing job in keeping the numbers killed down as low as Defra claimed although to be honest with you I wouldn’t believe anything they published.

Hunts are still hunting illegally.

The change I’ve seen personally and from updates around the country is now they seem to feel even more immune from prosecution and pay only minor lip service to covering their own arses in the form of laying trails (or appearing to). The Government will probably try and sneak through a free vote on the repeal of the Hunting Act in the new year just to fulfil their manifesto pledge however even the most staunch supporter of hunting will recognise there’s very little chance of success. Maybe this is why the hunts are getting more blatant? One can hope that with the failure of a repeal the legislation can be changed, Scotland has just gone through a review and with public pressure perhaps something similar can happen here? Of course while we have loathsome Leadsome as Environment Secretary there would seem to be little chance of that but we can live in hope.

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Speaking of public pressure it’s been heartening to seem what the general public can achieve when they put their minds to it and shown the right course of action. PCC’s and police forces are coming under increased scrutiny regarding the policing of hunts and we are starting to see some positive results. Hunting officers have been outed and their actions called into question (see here and here). The problem however still remains a large one but steps are being made in the right direction and with the use of social media the pressure will always be on the police to be seen to be upholding the laws of the land regardless of the crime.

Speaking of crimes the Fitzwillaim hunt should have been in court by now. The original date for the proceedings was supposed to be the 5th December however further pre-trial hearings were required and now I shall have to wait until April for my day in court. The offence took place almost a year ago now and the time it’s taken is somewhat frustrating however it’s still a major achievement just getting these animal abusers to court regardless of the outcome. I have no doubt they are guilty but as you probably know proving intent can be very difficult indeed. I’ll be sure to update you when the time comes.

As usual I’ll be out on Boxing Day and chucking some sab sized spanners in one of our local hunts attempts at killing foxes. Behind all that pomp and ceremony there is a truly insidious side, something the Countryside Alliance will attempt to hide with a concerted PR campaign. You’ll no doubt see plenty of articles in the media claiming hunting is alive and well with thousands turning out to support the Boxing Day tradition. The simple fact is most of those turning out on Boxing Day won’t see a hunt on any other day. The turn outs we see every week throughout the season are without doubt dropping. Hunts like the Atherston (thanks to great work from West Mids Hunt Sabs) are literally on their knees. the Puckeridge (Tim Boneheads hunt) would appear to have only £767 in the bank and I have no doubt many others are suffering similarly. If you fancy walking off some of the Christmas dinner why not pop along to your local hunt and voice your displeasure. The details can be found here.

Well that’s about it from me. Have a good break and thanks for tagging along.

Feel like donating? Click this link, every penny goes to saving animals.

I’ve heard some far fetched excuses in my time but this one has to take the biscuit. It came from Mark Bycroft, huntsman for the Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent Hill hunt. Mark has convictions for assaulting anyone who gets in the way of his blood lust and is a serial fox killer, not exactly the sort of person you’d describe as a reliable witness. His outrageous claims were in response to the horrific video published by North Downs and Guildford Sabs of a fox the hunt had killed south of Chiddingstone last Saturday (3/12). Sabs were unfortunately only moments too late to save the animal but according to Bycroft it was all their fault.

He said; “I understand they found a dead fox in the wood but I wasn’t there at the time so I don’t know what has happened. They use hunting horns and play recordings and try to disrupt the hounds. If an incident has happened they are to blame.”

So lets look at the facts:

A hunt is in the area, the only hunt and Bycroft is the huntsman.

Hounds have killed a fox as they are trained to do.

The hounds belong to the hunt which is in the area.

Sabs are on the scene moments later and witness the kill and record footage.

Hunt staff/terrier men are aware the hounds are hunting a wild mammal.

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If Bycroft wasn’t there what the hell was he doing? It’s his job to be in control of the hounds. Blaming sabs for the incident is of course complete and utter nonsense. Their only desire is to save the hunted animal and they did their very best however they’re hardly likely to act in a way which would scupper their primary aims. Now this means that Bycroft is either completely incompetent at his job (which is possible) or he’s purposefully casting the hounds into areas looking for foxes and leaving them to get on with it on purpose so he has the excuse of not knowing anything about what is transpiring.

Except of course he knew all along the hounds were on a fox. Terrier men were observed hollering to indicate they’d seen a fox, the hounds were in full cry (making a loud baying noise) and hunt staff were nearby with full knowledge and made no attempt to call off the hounds.

Rightly this has made the national media and the evidence has been passed on to the police however despite the obvious illegality I doubt there will be any convictions resulting. Lee Moon, spokesperson for the HSA summed up;

“Mark Bycroft has previous convictions for assaulting hunt saboteurs. His hunt have also been filmed illegally chasing and killing foxes but have never been prosecuted for this due to the inadequacies of the police and the Hunting Act. We hope this time it will be different but won’t hold our breath. Whether they get prosecuted or not this video footage speaks for itself. The Old Surrey, Burstow and West Kent are a bunch of rural law breakers who think they are above the laws of the land. Well done to the sabs present who, although they weren’t able to save this particular fox have again highlighted the reality of hunting since the ban.”

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This wasn’t the only incident last weekend.

You may remember I reported on several incidents previously regarding the Belvoir Hunt (see here, here and here) and it seems they still regard themselves as untouchable. Three foxes were killed by the hunt in the same day from their meet at The Wolds Farm near Holwell. Also present on the day was the PPC for Leicestershire Lord Willy Bach along with officers from the Leicestershire force. Sabs from Northants Hunt Sabs witnessed a fox being chased and brutally killed in a farmyard near Scalford Hall. Huntsman John Holliday was present and made no attempt to stop or call off the hounds but dismounted his horse and assaulted a female sab as they tried to save the animal. It unfortunately died in the arms of the sabs at the scene.

On reporting this incident to the police they confirmed the Belvoir had already killed 2 further foxes, this time in the grounds of a nearby nursing home which was witnessed by staff and patients alike and reported by a horrified member of the public. The police also had the bodies of the murdered foxes as evidence. Lee Moon from the HSA again;

“2016 has shown the world exactly what the Belvoir hunt are like. They were implicated in keeping captive foxes, then viciously assaulting those who had exposed them. Now as the year draws to a close they brazenly hunt and kill three foxes in the presence of Leicestershire Police. Members of Leicestershire Police, including former wildlife crime officer Sharon Roscoe, are known to ride with the Belvoir and we hope this doesn’t influence any investigation. It is perhaps fortunate that the Leicestershire PCC was also present on the day to insist that this latest law breaking by the Belvoir is not brushed under the carpet.”

These incidents just show the utter contempt hunts have for the law and their arrogance by still claiming what they are doing is legal. No-one with any sense believes their lies any more and the blatant manner in which they pursue their grisly agenda time and again is a true reflection of their desire to kill and remain immune from justice. There has been a review in Scotland recently on their hunting laws and I remain hopeful that progress will be made there. The same process should be followed in England and Wales however the big difference here is we have a pro-hunt Government and an Environment Secretary who wants to repeal the act. Until these hurdles are removed it will be left to those in the field putting themselves on the line to stand up for our wildlife – The Hunt Saboteurs. Find your local group and bung them a few bob.