Posts Tagged ‘Shooting Estates’

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.

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.

image2

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.

image4

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.

image3

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.

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.

 

 

 

I’d said I’d be back and here I am and I have to say it’s been a funny few weeks.

Except of course I’m not laughing.

Approximately 6 weeks ago I was woken early Sunday morning by a banging on my door. Bleary eyed I looked out the window to be greeted by the sight of a police van parked outside my house and two officers at the door.

I opened it where upon they confirmed my identity and asked if they could come in. I asked if they had a warrant to which they responded that they didn’t. I then told them I wouldn’t allow them access to my property. At which point they said they would then arrest me regardless, which after I put on some clothes they did. They then searched my house and removed a number of items including my phone, my custom built PC, a camera, a portable drive and some other totally unrelated and nonsense items like a baseball cap, knee supports (years of sport leave you with bad knees) and my rucksack. I was then taken to the police station where I sat, bored out of my skull for 6 hours with nothing more than a couple of cups of water. I’m a vegan, and so should have been offered something suitable to eat as they have a duty of care and have to provide food for all dietary requirements but this didn’t materialise until my lawyer arrived whereupon they managed to produce a disgusting beans and potato microwave ready meal. I would have been happy with some bread and hummus which could have easily been purchased as there is a large Tesco’s directly opposite the police station but they wouldn’t do this.

I was being arrested in relation to the story I published while ago and regarding the Woodland of Death (see here and here). It would seem this had annoyed the right people and the right people had obviously taken this up with the police. Clearly they were unhappy that their wildlife murdering ways had been brought to the attention of the general public and the following outcry had forced them to do something they were unhappy with and so demanded some sort of retribution. The location, Spitals Wood which is part of Quickswood Farm near Baldock in Hertfordshire, is I believe part of the estate owned by the Marquess of Salisbury. Now the police are constantly complaining of lack of funds and ability to respond to crime, even to the point where they are now no longer responding to some burglaries and only issuing a crime number for insurance purposes. However if someone is linked (even tenuously) to the destruction of snares (which are banned or severely restricted in other EU countries) and fen traps (of which some were illegally set – will they go after the Gamekeeper as well?) then they must face the full force of the law. The authorities went to some lengths to find out who I was, shame they can’t put the same effort into other crimes. The charge was officially 19 counts of criminal damage, amounting to around £400.

Quickwoods Farm

Quickwoods Farm

£400. I wonder how much the police time and effort cost to arrest and investigate someone who merely reported on the matter and brought it to the attention of the general public. A general public which are generally appalled by such barbaric devices. The £400 claim is a complete nonsense anyway, the snares were home made and cost pennies to produce and the fen traps cost £4.50 each on line. Hardly crime of the century regardless of who committed it. Was this truly in the public interest, would the police be so eager to investigate damage to your home in the same way? Why did it take a petition signed by thousands, significant public pressure plus complete and clear video evidence of the incident for the CPS to finally decide to act when a saboteur was ruthlessly run down and seriously injured by a hunter on a horse? The crimes are not even remotely comparable in terms of severity and yet the police were keen to act on one and hugely reluctant on the other.

Do you think this is right?

Draw your own conclusions.

I was questioned under caution with my lawyer present. My replies were “no comment” to all of them. As my lawyer said, “It’s not illegal to report on crime or take photographs, you could have taken a picture of a big pile of heroin, doesn’t mean it was yours or you had anything to do with it”.

So I was finally released by some less than pleased officers (I think they had the impression they would get a quick result) without a PC, a phone and all the other items. No doubt they had a good old rummage through everything and gained some nice intelligence. I was confident they wouldn’t find anything else which would connect me to the incident as everything I had was already in the public domain and as expected I received a call from the solicitors yesterday (17/9/15) informing me that no further action would be taken and I could collect my possessions.

Would you consider this a proper use of tax payers money?

So here we are. Of course this hasn’t had one iota of an impact at all on what I do, I’m still hunting the hunters and currently heavily involved with fighting the cruel and unnecessary badger cull down in Dorset. I’ll update you all on that in the coming weeks. Perhaps in the mean time you might like to take a walk around Quickswood Farm this autumn, pay special attention to Spitals Wood. They may have removed everything for the time being but Leopards can’t change their spots, I expect they’ll be back to their killing ways soon enough. There are plenty of footpaths and rights of way but be aware, shooting estates are built on death and suffering, you probably won’t see any wildlife, except for Pheasants of course.

Thanks to Bindmans for their legal help.

Here’s a reminder of the devastation.