Posts Tagged ‘Owen Paterson’

As you may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here and that’s because I took my annual pilgrimage north of the border to watch some wildlife on the western isles. However a lot has happened while I’ve been away so it’s time for a bit of a catch up.

Obviously the election result must have been a shock to those at the Countryside Alliance who thought they would get enough pro-hunt tory MP’s in place to push a repeal of the hunting ban through. No doubt old Bonner was crying into his cornflakes on the 9th when he realised that all the leafleting and lobbying by hunt lackeys was going to count for nothing. As I pointed out previously, Cruella De May’s support for a repeal was in fact political suicide and despite claims by some pro-hunt tory MP’s to the contrary this indeed was the case and the fact they can’t come to terms with this show’s their complete lack of understanding of the British voting public. This arrogance and indeed that of May was another major stumbling block for them. While Labour and Corbyn in particular were making all the right noises and actually talking to the people the tories were relying on a noisy, privileged blood sport minority to do their bidding. It was also hugely refreshing to see so many younger voters registering and getting involved. Make no mistake this played a significant role in the results and it bodes well for the future.

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CA predictions – hilariously wrong

Of course there will be more to come from this election result. The repeal free vote will be omitted from the Queens speech today (along with several other poor manifesto decisions), while the coalition of chaos argue among themselves and do dirty little deals in an effort to stay in power. This was effectively the last chance for the pro-hunt lobby to get their way. The repeal is dead, long live the ban. Now is the time to move on and get it strengthened and properly enforced.

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Micheal Gove or Harry Enfield?

Micheal Gove is also now the new Minister for Defra and the 4th minister in that position since I started writing this blog. Looking back I’m not sure who was the worst although Paterson took some beating for comic sound bites & quotes. Gove claims that policies including the badger cull will be looked and decided on from a scientific stand point. The problem there lies with the out of context and cherry picked science supplied and the power of those with influence over that department. The badger cull will no doubt continue with the further roll outs and more innocent animals will die for no reason whatsoever other than it’s something the NFU want. Gove has a history of voting against environmental protection issues and I don’t expect his tenure to improve the current situation.

A bit closer to home I’m still waiting for a date when the Fitzwilliam case will finally be heard. If the other side were delaying in the hope for a repeal then that threat has now passed and I’ve been told to keep the whole of August free so hopefully we can get these murderers into court and a guilty verdict secured.

We’ve also had some success against the Mink/Otter hunts locally. These people really are the lowest of the low, putting a pack of hounds through a delicate environment like a water course is nothing more than environmental vandalism and it’s clear to anyone with half a brain that Otters will be the main quarry as the Mink have been largely displaced now by the returning Otter. I was also pleased to see the UK Wild Otter Trust come out with a statement regarding this.

The full statement:

MINK HUNTING

“As a leading charity dealing with the European otter, we are concerned that mink hunting can & does cause issues for otters. The hunting act of 2004 bans the hunting of mammals with dogs whether they are native or not including mink. The control of any predator if required should be done in the most humane way – hunting with dogs is not. Unfortunately, this type of hunting still continues and therefore poses an ongoing risk to the otter.

UKWOT would question the methods used during illegal mink hunting as the dogs would not be able to distinguish between an otter or a mink. There are several points that require intervention by the law because it will cause disturbance to otters at the holt, place of rest or shelter and of course will disrupt its territory. There is also a very huge risk that the “mink hounds” will “accidentally” take an otter but of course that would be covered up. Do we believe that these packs actually hunt mink? No, we don’t but having proof is paramount to any such investigation and subsequent prosecution. The UK Wild Otter Trust would not hesitate to take legal proceedings should this ever be proven against any such hunting packs and we will never endorse this barbaric act”.

Hunting is still firmly in the public eye and while this is certainly not the beginning of the end I would suggest that it could be the end of the beginning. There’s still plenty of work to do, but it will get done, make no mistake.

Today, Thursday 21st July MP’s will debate a ban on the manufacture, possession and use of snares in the UK. The motion was tabled by Labour MP for Lewisham West and Penge, Jim Dowd. The text of the motion is as follows:

“That this House notes the indiscriminate and cruel nature of snares, the failure of previous attempts at voluntary and self-regulation amongst operators, and the continued suffering caused to thousands of animals every year by these traps; and calls on the Government to implement a full ban on the manufacture, sale, possession and use of snares at the earliest opportunity.”

Now regular readers of this blog will know of my personal hatred of these devices along with all the other cruel and indiscriminate devices of death in the arsenal of the gamekeepers employed by shooting estates across our green and sometimes not-so-pleasant land. The text of the motion is spot on. There is no self-regulation amongst the users and, by-and-large that’s because they are often well out of the way of prying eyes and there is little chance of discovery. And let’s face it, gamekeepers don’t do the job they do because they have concerns for animal welfare.

According to figures from Defra’s own studies 1.7 million animals fall victim to snares in the UK every year. 1.7 million, that’s a pretty bloody big number by anyone’s reckoning. Imagine all that wildlife that wouldn’t have to suffer . . . and it’s not only wildlife that suffers, domestic pets are often caught and, if not discovered will also end up on a stink pit or thrown away somewhere discrete so they aren’t discovered by their owners.

There are 2 types of snare, the self locking which is illegal to use (but still turn up) and the free running which is intended to only hold the victim until the keeper comes along and smashes it’s head in with a blunt instrument. The animals caught suffer huge distress, continually pulling against the device and causing themselves horrendous injuries, some animals will even attempt to gnaw their own limbs off in an effort to escape. They are so cruel even badger hater and previous Secretary for the Environment Owen Paterson MP (remember him?) said this: “I am completely convinced that trapping and snaring are hideously cruel”.

I almost had to have a lay down after reading that.

Animals at Risk Snaring Infographic

Graphic courtesy of LACS

Now no doubt there will be lots of shouting in their defence from the shooting industry along with bogus claims that they provide a service to the environment and in fact have a positive impact on biodiversity but we all know that is complete codswallop. Shooting estates, be they Pheasant, Partridge or Grouse are black holes for our wildlife, in particular mammalian predators and birds of prey. All these species are persecuted relentlessly and banning snares will be one small step in the battle to save more of our native species. Some species like the Hen Harrier are now virtually extinct from England, this is solely due to the persecution they face at the hands of the shooting industry, an industry which takes everything and yet puts back nothing. Here’s reminder from my own story, Woodland of Death.

 

I watched the debate, Jim Dowd put forward a compelling argument despite the best attempts from some parties who’s ignorance was beyond a joke. The new Parliamentary Under of Secretary of State for DEFRA, Dr Thérèse Coffey, responded by saying a new code of conduct will be published. Really? What’s the point in that? The old code of conduct was never adhered to and I doubt this one will be. So if you’re out and about in our countryside and you see one of these devices . . . well, you know what to do.

Petition to ban snares.

Petition to ban Driven Grouse Shooting.

Jim Dowd

Jim Dowd during the debate.

 

 

 

If you have any interest in wildlife or indeed animal welfare you’ll have no doubt seen much of the media coverage both in the national press and on TV with regards to the unscrupulous method in which the Tory Government are trying to repeal the hunting ban via the back door. Brain May has been his honest best by telling it how it is by calling these people “lying bastards”. Now any supporter of hunting can try and justify their actions by claiming it’s pest control but the simple fact it they hunt for fun, if it wasn’t fun for them then they simply wouldn’t do it. Brian crossed verbal swords with Owen Paterson on Sky News recently and while good old Owen bluffed and blustered his was through with only multiple repetitions of the pest control claims Brian shot him down with hard facts. Foxes are not pests, I’ve said this plenty of times before and I’m not going to go over it all again but what I will do is highlight a few instances that prove the pest control justification of hunting is a total lie.

Encouraging Foxes. Some year back a national newspaper came into the position of a letter sent by the Masters of Fox Hounds Association to 800 hunt masters and the chairmen warns of a nationwide “shortage of foxes”. It also urged that landowners should be encouraged to breed more foxes to solve the “problem”. The letter came to light when the Sunday Mirror obtained a copy of an email sent in response to it by Simon Hart, chief executive of the pro-hunt Countryside Alliance. In the email to Lord Daresbury, chairman of the MFHA, he expressed his concern that if the letter was leaked, “we would be ridiculed in Parliament, the Press and in all parts of Britain where hunting is firstly population control and secondly recreational.” He added: “I do want to re-stress that the Alliance is here to play its part in securing hunting’s future but we cannot do this if the core arguments are undermined. I am one of those who has never been happy about our reliance on the ‘pest control’ case, partly because so few people understand that control is not always the same as extermination – in fact it rarely is.” He calls the letter – which he says “advocates the artificial enhancement of a pest species for purely sporting benefit”“politically naive”. He says the letter’s suggestion that hunt masters “should be firmer with subscribers ‘who do not keep foxes’ dismays me”.

Artificial earth in Cambridgeshire.

Artificial earth in Cambridgeshire.

Artificial Earths. Moving on from what’s outlined above it seemed many hunt subscribers did indeed take action to encourage foxes. The Stop the Cull organisation have been releasing images on social media over the past few days of earths that have been constructed to encourage foxes to breed. These are not exceptions either, it would seem they are numerous and widespread. Footage secretly obtained by the HSA and shown on prime time news by ITV also showed the Cotswold Vale Farmers hunt no only providing a suitable breading earth but feeding the foxes with chicken carcasses and eggs. This would of course enable foxes to produce larger litters and so have more young foxes to hunt come the autumn.On hunt day this means many hunters would know exactly where to find a fox and so would send in their dim witted lackeys and their terriers to flush them in front of the hounds and block up any other holes where they may escape, including badgers setts which is illegal in its own right.

Upland farmers losing livestock. This was the repeated line spouted by Own Paterson on Sky News. Hard working, good old honest, salt of the earth upland farmers (OK I admit I embellished that a bit but that was the impression he was trying to achieve) are finding it hard to survive due to massive losses by aggressive foxes. This is another downright lie. By Defra’s own studies (weren’t you boss of Defra once Owen, you know, when the Badgers moved the goal posts?) lamb losses are below 1% (0.8% to be precise) and chickens a mere 2%, hardly earth shatteringly large numbers. Foxes will no doubt scavenge on the carcasses of dead lambs but actually taking and killing healthy lambs is a complete nonsense. Have you ever seen a breeding ewe defend her offspring? No fox would even attempt taking one on when there are easier meals to be had. The simple fact is that it is down to poor husbandry that so many casualties occur.

Even some hunters are disgusted. Clifford Pellow was a huntsman for 23 years before turning his back on the practice. The Daily Mirror published his story (13/07) with some horrific claims of cruelty but for the point in question here regarding pest control he has to say this: “It is nonsense and lies to say hunting has anything to do with ­controlling a pest in the countryside. When I worked on a farm, it was more effective to flush foxes out with two sheepdogs than with a pack of dogs. It’s got to be the worst method of fox control. There are more foxes killed on the motorways than killed by hounds. The hunting fraternity have a lot of excuses for hunting but not one ­justification. The only justification is to kill something at the end of the day.”

So as you can see and as Brian May so eloquently put, they really are a bunch of lying bastards.

UPDATE: The Tory’s hope of winning on the hunting amendments could be scuppered as the SNP throw their weight behind the no vote.

The Scottish National Party Westminster Group met this evening and decided to vote against the Tory Government’s attempt to relax the ban on fox hunting south of the border in Wednesday’s vote.

SNP Westminster Group Leader Angus Robertson MP said:

“We totally oppose fox hunting, and when there are moves in the Scottish Parliament to review whether the existing Scottish ban is strong enough, it is in the Scottish interest to maintain the existing ban in England and Wales for Holyrood to consider. 

“We are in a situation where the Tory government are refusing to agree to any amendments to improve the Scotland Bill – which are supported by 58 of Scotland’s 59 MPs – and imposing English Votes for English Laws to make Scotland’s representation at Westminster second class. 

“In these circumstances, it is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban – in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is – just as we will vote against the Tory welfare cuts next week, and appeal to Labour to join us.”

I wonder what vitriolic, literary vomit James Barrington will come up with in response to this news?

UPDATE#2: David Cameron has now withdrawn the amendment vote knowing he’d lose it. This looks like an attempt to delay until he can get through the English Votes for English Laws legislation which would effectively end the possibility of the SNP voting on such matters. Whatever democracy we had is now dead.

UPDATE#3: Wow, things are moving quickly. It would now seem that even if the EVEL legislation was brought into effect the SNP would still be able to block any move to weaken the Hunting Act. We won the battle. Now lets make sure we win the war and consign these evil people to history and get hunting with dogs completely banned and properly enforced.

We all knew it would happen sooner or later but perhaps what is a surprise is the method Cameron is attempting to use and the speed in which the story developed.

If the information being leaked to the media is to be believed it was looking increasingly unlikely that Cameron would get what the Countryside Alliance were aggressively lobbying for through the house. A total repeal of the Hunting Act was looking like it may be in serious trouble as MP’s from all sides were distancing themselves from something which obviously had so little support from the general voting public. However Cameron, in an effort to push through with his manifesto promise has chosen a somewhat unscrupulous method of watering down the current legislation without risking a potentially damaging free vote on a repeal.

The solution for him involves amending the Hunting Act by statutory instrument. This would allow hunting for pest control purposes, using an unlimited amount of dogs to flush a fox to waiting guns. Of course calling the fox a pest in the first place is up for debate, most with any understanding of wildlife and ecology will know the fox has an important part to play in the food chain and can in fact be hugely beneficial to farmers by naturally controlling the numbers of rodents and rabbits that chomp their way through millions of pounds worth of crops each year and quite frankly if you can’t protect your livestock from a small wild dog then perhaps you really shouldn’t have the responsibility in the first place. Of course it’s been proven beyond doubt that hunting with hounds is an inefficient way of killing any animal, this is nothing more than a back door approach to appease his sponsors at the CA and save face by avoiding an embarrassing commons defeat.

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How these changes would affect how the hunts operate would in fact be minimal in real terms but would muddy the waters enough to make prosecution even harder than it is already. Regardless of the number of hounds allowed once flushed the fox would have to be shot. Any continued chase by the hounds would then be in contravention of the law and this is the crux of the matter. The whole point in fox hunting is the protracted chase and the kill. This is where the hunters get their kicks, the “thrill of the chase”. It would also mean the hunts would have to employ a number of gun license holders who would have to be in a suitable position to kill the animal once it bolted which, when you consider the fluid nature of hunting, would prove to be totally impractical.This whole situation also has the makings of a complete disaster. Most shotgun license holders probably couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo let alone a fast moving fox, throw into the mix 30 or so hounds in hot pursuit and a bunch of sabs hell bent on preventing any killing and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what could happen next. The boys in blue would also be getting increasingly twitchy with all those firearms knocking about, especially considering how easily the hunts and their lackeys like to get violent when someone interferes with their idea of fun.

It’s somewhat odd then that such a staunch supporter of fox hunting, our old friend Owen Paterson supports such a weakening of the act. He’s on record as stating that shooting foxes is not a good way of controlling them as often the shooters aren’t good shots and many will die from their injuries over a period of time (although that didn’t seem to bother him when it came to badgers). We can only surmise that he must now be doing the fastest U turn ever in an effort to support Cameron who now seems think it’s safe and humane. Of course that’s neither here nor there as it has nothing to do with animal welfare in the first place. The whole issue has an overwhelming political stink about it. Bury the issue behind the first Tory budget and go in by the back door and hope no-one notices. If ever you had any doubts about the integrity of the Government and Cameron in particular then this issue should answer everything you needed to know.

Sign the petition here.

Write to your MP regardless of their stance on the matter. Find out yours here.

Stop the Cull – Protect the Foxes

UPDATE: Having now had chance to read and digest the amendments to the act it would seem things could be more serious than I previously perceived. If this gets approved it would in effect make the act utterly pointless and give a free reign to those who like killing things for pleasure with little no risk of prosecution. Please contact your MP, contact the SNP and encourage them to get involved and if you can get down to Westminster next Wednesday and make your feelings known in person.