Posts Tagged ‘Stop the Cull’

A slight change of tack for me this week and hopefully there’ll be more in the future. I’ve invited some guest writers to put their thoughts and ideas out there, it’s a chance for some new points of view to be aired so I hope dear readers you’ll enjoy and maybe learn something new. First up we have the man behind Stop the Cull, badger warrior and general thorn in the side to the Government and NFU . . . Jay Tiernan.

Jay is going to explain how you can get active without getting muddy.

I’m a keyboard warrior, and you should be too.

“..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing,” – Gerrard Winstanley

What could be better than words that highlight how useless words are? Well I’d suggest petitions, one step up from a motivational quote and one step below a letter to an MP. There they sit on our stalls and littering facebook, but are they really any good and if so how can we best make use of them? Love them or loathe them there is no denying that they can be used to make people aware of a specific campaign.

They are frequently used by activists doing stalls on our high streets. When asked “do they make any difference?” I’d always reply “No, we quite often just burn them. The only use they serve is to get you to chat to me and maybe give me some money, if you want to change the world then you have to physically do something, talking about it won’t do it”. I still believe that action is the only way forwards, but my view that petitions actually work has recently changed.

Online petitions frequently don’t by themselves achieve very much, but in tandem with actions they are a useful device to raise awareness and are a key tool for modern day online activism.

stop the cull

Indeed there are a number of petitions I can think of in the last year that have done really well, that have raised awareness on an issue which has then gone on to win. Most recently was the wildlife officer who was outed as a hunt supporter. Another petition campaign that also won that comes to mind is the demand for the huntsman who rode over a sab having their charges dropped then brought back by the CPS. In both cases the petitions alone did not work, they worked side by side with other actions, with the wildlife officer there were a number of blog posts and social media posts exposing other elements of police collusion with hunters and with the hunt sab being ridden over there was a demo which gained a lot of media attraction.

So what else can we do from the comfort of our own homes that will work effectively at changing the world besides petitions?

Writing an email to your MP can be frustrating but it’s worth doing if for no other reason than to get MP’s aware of the issues that concern their constituents, you can combine any response from your MP along with the issue you are raising with a letter to your local paper and to national press. These letters are read by potentially tens of thousands of people. A comprehensive list of national press letters page contacts here:

Twitter can be great for directly contacting people, whether it’s the chief of police to let them know about an officers behaviour or to publically shame an animal abuser. Twitter trends can often be easily used. For instance #dorsethour trends every week and it’s a good time to let people in Dorset about the upcoming badger culls.

Facebook posts that highlight an issue can have a huge reach, including contact details for the people who can make a change are an important part of this, so highlighting a managing director for their companies involvement with their contact details means that the problem is quickly being addressed by a key decision maker. It can also create controversy which in turn may get picked up by main stream press. A useful resource for finding CEO’s is here:

Many people wrongly assume that it is illegal to publicise contact details for businesses or people, it isn’t and a recent industrial tribunal looking at why Natural England decision not to release certain information with the defence that it would be unsafe for those involved to be revealed was overruled. Specifically the tribunal said that it was part of the democratic process for protesters to contact by mail and phoning those who are involved in the badger cull. Big national waged animal rights groups are often afraid of any adverse publicity, we should not be.


Another easy way to get a companies attention is by highlighting their Facebook page, many small businesses have FB pages as well. Hunt Sab groups often post links to pubs where hunts meet, by giving the pubs 1 star reviews on Facebook and any other review website many pubs have very quickly decided to no longer host meets. Phone calls are also very important, I once rang up a pub that had just had press off the back of a hunt meet and was quoted as being delighted to be hosting the hunt meet. I informed the owners that I’d be organising an on-line boycott of the pub, they immediately decided to never host a hunt meet again.

It’s not just pubs that host hunts, mostly it’s farmers and those farmers are probably the weakest link in the hunting world. Whilst a number of them are die hard hunters, many farmers have no interest in having hunts rampaging over their fields and being highlighted on social media and getting calls of complaint could well be the excuse they need to pull out, meaning that they never allow the hunts to hunt across their land again.

To find phone numbers and contact details there are a number of on-line resources you can use to find out more contact details for a person or company, is probably the best but isn’t free. Google is my usual first stop, using “ “ helps refine searches. After I’ve searched a name and an address and found a land line number I’ll search that again using quotes and that will give much more accurate results. The land registry office will tell you who owns land, you can get some free information by using their map search facility.

Once you have a postcode you can start searching any planning permission requests, which in turn can give you a map of the property boundary, very useful for shooting estates or farms that allow hunting.

If a hunt loses farmers and land to hunt on, then a entire neighbouring areas within their country can also become inaccessible making the future of the hunt harder and harder. This is one of the reasons that an Essex hunt closed down in the past weeks.

To expect sabs who have been out in the fields and who are also holding down full time jobs to do all the research and run an ongoing campaign is probably expecting too much, all the supporters of sab groups can do more than just ringing up or writing reviews, we can also help out with research and exposing those involved with hunting.

Words mean nothing, action is everything.

Stop the Cull

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.