Posts Tagged ‘Raptor Persecution’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

You definitely won’t find a teddy bears picnic. Bears, like most of our large predators were hunted to extinction in the UK many years ago (1000 AD) and obviously not satisfied we seem to be hell bent on removing everything else predatory whether it flies, runs or slithers.

The argument that man has to take the place of the predators is also a non-starter. Ecosystems are built on evolutionary change over millions of years and these fragile food webs require natural apex predators to prevent a top down trophic cascade. One has to wonder then why, in these enlightened times are we as a species failing to understand our role and how to best minimise the negative affect our existence has on the planet.

This brings me to the point of predator persecution. The main cause is conflict with man and his interests. Some species are afforded protection but this seems to have little effect on actually saving them. It was great to see the petition to ban driven grouse shooting go past the 100,000 mark and will now be debated in Parliament, so well done to all that signed it and Mark Avery for starting it in the first place but the fact still remains that shooting estates and their keepers are the primary reason for loss of predators. Some can be legally killed including Foxes, Stoats, Weasels and  Corvids and all will meet their end in large numbers in all sorts of barbaric and grisly ways. It may be OK in the eyes of the law but from a moral and ethical standpoint its an abomination. Why should these species have to suffer just because some moron with a personality defect likes to kill a certain species of bird, that’s been artificially reared to provide an unnaturally high population, just for fun?

I’m always happy when someone redresses that balance in just a little way. I was sent these pictures (Police please note – it’s not illegal to report or publish this, I don’t want you banging on my door again) a couple of weeks ago which show both  (assumed) legal and illegal traps.

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This is a Larsen trap, complete with live Crow. The live bird will tempt other birds into the trap whereupon the gamekeeper will return and bash their skulls in with a large stick. The strict requirements for operating these traps are listed below.

The welfare of decoy birds is well-covered by law. If any of the following conditions are not being met then the trap is being operated illegally:

– Suitable food must be readily accessible
– Clean drinkable water must be available all of the time
– There must be shelter which protects the bird from prevailing weather conditions
– There must be a perch placed under the shelter
– No decoy bird can be left in a trap when the trap is not in use
– Operators can not use any live bird or animal which is tethered, or secured by means of         braces or other similar appliances, or is blind, maimed or injured.

Operation of the trap

The law is clear on how a live-catch trap must be operated.

Every trap must be physically inspected at least once every day at intervals of no more than 24 hours – and the inspection must be sufficient to determine whether there are any live or dead birds or other animals in the trap (so eg not a quick glance from a vehicle parked at a distance from the trap).

ALL Non-target species caught in a Larsen or Cage trap must be released UNHARMED immediately upon discovery.

At each inspection any dead animal, including any dead bird, caught in the trap should be removed from it.

Any birds killed in accordance with the general licences must be killed in a quick and humane manner (in Wales the general licences require that any bird held captive before being killed must be killed out of sight of other captive birds). In England a separate licence issued by Natural England is required to a trapped bird.

In Scotland each trap must carry a sign that gives the operator’s ID number and the number of the local police station or the Wildlife Crime Officer for the area.

Now just by looking I can see that several of these license requirements are being breached and therefore the trap could be deemed as illegal. Obviously there is no official monitoring of these requirements so it is no wonder that they are open to so much abuse. Fortunately for this Crow it was removed and sent for rehabilitation and release.

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The sign on top of the trap shows it’s been in use for a lengthy period but what it actually proclaims is a complete lie.

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The license restriction are clearly being ignored so the first statement is wrong for a start. The live bird isn’t being well cared for either and it’s not in accordance with the game conservancy requirements but the most galling statement is the claim that it is being used as some kind of conservation effort to encourage more wildlife.

The simple fact is you won’t find these devices anywhere else apart from shooting estates. They aren’t interested in other wildlife, the only thing are interested in is their profits from shooting and providing the highest number of game birds to shoot for their clients. Needless to say this cage was probably visited by the woodland pixies and won’t be trapping any more Corvids.

The second device is something not often seen and is indeed illegal although freely available to purchase.

raptor trap

Baited with a dead Pheasant a scavenging raptor, most likely a Buzzard or Red Kite will land on the device whereupon it will set off the spring and the net will capture the bird, alive. What happens to the captured bird next is unlikely to be pleasant. The use of this trap is currently being investigated so there is little more I can say however once again it shows what Gamekeepers and shooting estates are up to. These devices were happened upon by members of the public out walking, one wonders how many other horrors would be found on much closer inspection of these private estates (things like this maybe)? Estates which, incidentally we help pay for through farm subsidies. I for one don’t accept this kind of barbarity so dear reader if you do go down to the woods today, just keep your eyes open, you never know what you might find.

If you do find something which you believe to be illegal please report it your local wildlife crime officer or the RSPB here.

I like Chris Packham, he’s my kind of naturalist.

On TV he doesn’t beat about the bush and paint nature as some kind of children’s book where it’s all fluffy bunnies and cutesy pie. It’s warts and all, predator and prey and the real circle of life . . . and death. Another fine trait he has is he’s prepared to stand up and be counted when it comes to highlighting the injustices that occur in our countryside. He’s prepare to take the fire from the heavy hitters in the wildlife abuse industry and face them off using solid science and sound arguments.

Of course the “nasty brigade” as he so eloquently described them are now seriously irked and have taken it upon themselves to tarnish his considerable reputation via his employers, the BBC (and not for the first time). Apparently the BBC and Springwatch have editorial guidelines which prevent them from engaging in debate on controversial issues. However Chris isn’t on Springwatch discussing these issues but independently as Chris Packham the naturalist and the last time I looked it wasn’t a crime to express an opinion. Tim Bonner the Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance released a statement complaining bitterly, it is a rambling, slightly desperate attempt to justify their claims using words like “obsessive” and “extreme” when describing Mr Packham.

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It always amuses me when these people start these frothy mouthed rants, Boner . . . sorry Bonner is famous for them. They mostly consist of long winded diatribes lacking in any real substance. They paint themselves as the traditional land managers, guardians of the countryside no less while generalising wildly that anyone with compassion and an alternative point of view is some kind of demented and dangerous terrorist on a par with IS. Well, they certainly don’t fool me and I’m pretty sure the only people who enjoy having this much sunshine blown up their arses are their animal abusing cohorts and lackies. The simple fact is times are changing. The CA may be big, rich and powerful but these Victorian attitudes to our landscape belong in the past and it’s only a matter of time before they go the same way as the dinosaurs. Chris Packham is only telling it like it is and that scares the crap out of them.

Of course this is all the more relevant right now after the Government refused to ban snares yet again (see here) even though the only MP’s to vote against the proposition were pro-hunting and shooting, like Simon Hart (member for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and also, unsurprisingly Chairman of the CA) but also that the start of the Grouse shooting season will be soon upon us, the inglorious 12th. The series of short videos made by Chris and showing the real price of Grouse Shooting are hugely effective and gaining significant coverage. He’s also urging Marks and Spencer to stop selling Grouse on the basis that the management of the moors from which they are shot is unethical.

It’s very hard to argue against what are undoubted the facts. These include the failure of Hen Harriers to breed in the Forest of Bowland once again, an area which should be their stronghold, purely due to illegal persecution from Gamekeepers. Shooting estates and Grouse moors in particular are wildlife wastelands, raptors and mammalian predators are conspicuous by their absence, they are man made environments designed purely for the benefit of raising an unnatural level of game birds, game birds which will be shot, for fun, by a very small minority.

These are the facts and as such are undeniable. It doesn’t matter how many teddies you chuck out your pram they are never going to change.

Ban Driven Grouse Shooting

For more info visit the excellent Raptor Persecution UK

UPDATE: Chris Packham’s management have just issued this statement.

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The nasty brigade show are showing their true colours once again. As one person commented, “they don’t like it up em!”. Indeed they don’t.