Well, here’s a headline and a half: “Sick hunters dump bag of dead rabbits and hare outside school“. And (in a rather sad symmetry with yesterday’s post) it’s from Yorkshire again – though this time West Yorkshire rather than North Yorkshire.
It’s worth looking at this story. First though, we’ve been criticised for talking about a ‘war on wildlife’, but let’s face it, if dumping a bag of dead animals outside of a school is not at least an indication that wildlife is not valued especially highly by some sections of society then what is (unless these ‘morons’ – and we’re quoting the police here [see below]) – are just anti-school children…)
Anyway, this is the report from the Examiner Live
Sick hunters dumped a binbag containing dead rabbits and a dead hare outside a school.
The dead wild animals, believed have been killed for fun, were discovered outside a school in Bingley, near Bradford, on Wednesday.
It is believed the doe had been nursing her young, Kirklees wildlife crime officer PC Caroline Newsome said.
PC Newsome tweeted: “Poaching is no longer ‘one for the pot’ to feed the family. Just morons, killing wildlife for fun, to be callously dumped at the roadside, for someone else to clear up.”
Incidents involving suspected animal cruelty can be reported to PC Newsome via 101 or 999 if they are in progress.
Incidents involving a dead or injured badger within the Kirklees area can be reported to Kirklees Badger Protection Group on 07745 378039.
The short report above quotes PC Caroline Newsome (and the header photo of the binbag and hare is hers). We’ve quoted Caroline Newsome before, in rather similar circumstances. She is Wildlife Crime Officer and Ward PC for Kirkburton/Denby Dale, and back in March she photographed the corpses of fourteen dead foxes ‘callously dumped, and strewn along the road side, in various states of decomposition‘.
This time it’s rabbits and a hare. Whatever the species (be it non-native mammals brought here by the Romans or the bags of dumped pheasants that regularly litter the countryside during the killing season) it’s disturbing to think that there are people wandering the same streets as the rest of us who have such low regard and complete disrespect for wildlife.
Part of the blame for that has to be laid at the door of weak legislation (drafted on behalf of the agriculture and shooting industries) that legally vilifies some wild animals as ‘pests’ or makes obtaining licences to kill them all too easy. Yes, rabbits are an introduced species and not especially beneficial for the UK landscape (in Iberia where they originally came from they’re a key component of the Iberian Lynx’s diet), but if someone had killed pet rabbits (or even lab rabbits) and dumped them in a bin bag outside a school there would be a huge outcry. Hares, of course, are introduced as well, but most people love them.
What will happen in this case? Undoubtedly very little. We wrote this in relation to the dumped foxes in March:
So what could be done in this case? We asked Caroline this on Twitter and suggested that – in reality – perhaps all we could hope for was something along the lines of ‘improper waste disposal’. That may have sounded flippant or snarky, but it was a serious question. And to her absolute credit, she responded saying that, “Whilst I’m loathed to call it fly-tipping, simply because I don’t see these poor souls as rubbish, the last person I caught fly tipping, in partnership with my local authority, had their vehicle seized and were summonsed to court.“
Wow. The perpetrator might be charged with fly-tipping. If of course they can be found (unlikely), someone within the ‘wildlife management community’ comes forward (highly unlikely), or their employer hands them over (excuse us while we fall about laughing). Doesn’t that just sum it up. Trash while alive, trash when they’re dead. Again, this is absolutely not a criticism of PC Newsome. She’s an enforcement officer not a legislator. She doesn’t make the rules. She has to do her best with whatever regulations she can. She clearly loves wildlife and this is not the answer she wants to give. But the facts are the facts, and whatever any of us might want to see done, the person/people who did this will be sitting back right now, shaking their heads at the fuss we’re making and knowing that there is close to zero chance of being charged with anything at all.
The war on wildlife is multi-pronged. There’s the ‘morons’ who just don’t like wildlife – and don’t care that other people do – and shoot, hunt, or persecute it; there are the ‘countryside managers’ who have always abused wildlife and won’t budge on their ‘right’ to do pretty much whatever they want; there’s the shooting and hunting lobbyists who push to remove or weaken the laws protecting wildlife; there’s the governments that connive with industries to water down regulations; there’s media outlets that ‘normalise’ the slaughter of wildlife. The list goes on and on.
When will it end? When the rest of us decide that enough is enough and become active. When we demand that our politicians support wildlife via proper legislation, and demand that our enforcement agencies take wildlife crime more seriously. When there is proper public debate about the value of wildlife – not its value to us, but its intrinsic value. Its right to exist without being treated as a commodity, a nuisance, an unwitting participant in an always one-sided ‘sport’, as valueless unless it somehow makes our own lives better.
When? Not just yet obviously, and certainly not simply because the lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic will ‘make us all want change’. But the pressure will continue…on here at least.