Posts Tagged ‘Snares’

 

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

After I’ve returned from my few days each week in the North Cots cull zone I take a little time to contemplate and analyse what has been occurring and see if I can make any sense of it. The last outing stood out due to two incidents, one which was hugely saddening and another which was just bizarre.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with things on social media you may be aware of the badger we found that have been caught in a snare. Now while the snare was of the free running type and thus technically legal they are still barbaric, indiscriminate and cause horrendous injuries to the animals caught in them. What was more insidious (and possibly illegal) in this case was its placement, no more than 20 metres from a sett and close to where badgers would access the nearby fields. Best practice (what a joke eh) guidelines state snares have to be checked every morning first thing and non-target species released although I doubt any gamekeeper would attempt to release an angry badger, it’s fate would most likely be terminal.

As is the case here these guidelines are often ignored which means any animal caught will suffer a drawn out and painful death. We cannot comprehend the suffering involved. The injuries suffered by this poor badger meant there was only one humane option. Thanks to everyone who came to our aid and the Vale Wildlife Rescue for compassionately ending it’s suffering. We are currently in discussion with Gloucestershire Badger Trust and the local police about the device although I doubt anyone will be brought to justice.

If you ever find an animal trapped in a snare please don’t attempt to free it yourself. We had the relevant restraining poles, cutters, covers and boxes needed to effect the rescue along with the relevant animal handling experience. Contact your nearest wildlife rescue immediately and stay with the animal. If possible try and cover it to keep it as calm as you can while you wait.

If you find any snares on your travels please make an informed decision on what you should do with them.

14522964_10154524201887230_4729001092660298818_n

Why aren’t snares banned?

Next up was a story broken once again by Stop the Cull (see here). It was predicted early on in the cull that the culling companies had limited resources at their disposal and this included the cages used to trap badgers. It’s been well publicised that activists are finding and neutralising cages in large numbers, but these numbers seem to have been dropping off over the last few days however the discovery of cages which had previously been ‘pixied’* and then crudely repaired perhaps sheds some more light on the matter.

wonkycage

Clearly not going to catch anything.

Are the culling companies so short of cages they are resorting to these drastic measures? Obviously these cages wouldn’t function as intended although they were still baited and set to trap. Some were held together with wire and bailing twine, some quite frankly looked so ridiculous one wonders why they bothered. Whatever the mindset of the person wasting their time with these devices they aren’t going to catch any badgers. As Stop the Cull say, it really is a tragic farce and time Natural England stepped in to end it.

stringcage

Well pixied, broken welds held together with string & wire.

We’re into the final days in the original cull zones but the new areas have no real time limit and can go on well into the winter. Our best hope now is the arrival of cold weather which will limit the badgers activity above ground. There’s still time for you to get over there and save lives. Shooters are still being found and seen off regularly and no doubt there’s probably a few more bits of metal for the pixies to reshape.

* Pixied is a term meaning the woodland dwelling forest pixies had found and squashed the cage.

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.

CA

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.

13901434_1429052107121341_7724095467751396893_n

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.

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.