Search Results for: shooting

Yorkshire Water bringing grouse shooting to an end

There are a number of ways to end the scandal and disgrace that is industrialised grouse shooting, from books like Dr Mark Avery’s ‘Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands’, Hen Harrier Day, blogs like Raptor Persecution UK that focus on wildlife crime, and targeting landowners that allow wealthy shooters to use birds as live targets on a day out in the uplands. The latter is the approach that Wild Moors (formerly known as Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors) has been taking – and it is beginning to pay off in spades! Luke Steele and the Wild Moors team (working with the League Against Cruel Sports) have been focussing in particular on Yorkshire Water, one of England’s largest landowners, who lease out upland moors to grouse shooting tenants. Over the last couple of years, Wild Moors have been asking why would a corporation that says it has the environment at the very heart of its concerns want to be associated with an industry that is underpinned by wildlife crime, regularly sets fire to threatened habitats causing degradation of carbon-storing peatlands, and causes flooding downstream.

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Guest Post | Mountain Hares – Can they survive alongside Driven Grouse Shooting?

“The fate of mountain hares is subject to the same spin, falsehoods and lies we hear regularly from those champions of conservation: the grouse shooting Industry. Just as every gamekeeper is supposedly a friend of raptors, we also hear they’re the friends of hares. A propaganda video from the Gift Of Grouse has a caption of “There’s no shortage of mountain hare on land managed for grouse shooting due to predator control and healthy moorland” – all in an area with a well-documented history of large scale mountain hare killing. Some of the online moderators at Hare Preservation Trust thought the video showed hares being rounded up for slaughter and wanted the video to be deleted. Instead it was the moderators who were removed from their posts. The list of species which gamekeepers leave alone is a short one indeed: waders of course, but not much else. For raptors, statistics are selectively used: for a bird like peregrine, they’d happily quote the thriving populations in the White Peak, not the lack of birds in the grouse shooting Dark Peak. Merlin are generally left alone – sometimes weighing as little as 160g they’re not seen as a threat to grouse..” Guest post by Bob Berzins

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Defra’s ministerial farming and shooting merry-go-round

The rumour mill suggests that George Eustice MP will not be running Defra for much longer, as Carrie Johnson apparently thinks that he is too close to the farming lobby (ironically he has received criticism for being too close and (from the NFU) for not being close enough), and is not taking sufficient action on animal welfare. Downing Street hasn’t commented yet, but surely, now, with even world leaders beginning to glimpse how the world might look with runaway climate change and public opinion more strongly against slaughtering protected animals than ever before, if Eustice were to be demoted he would be replaced with someone with genuine environmental credentials? You’d think, but the most likely candidate appears to be Chief Whip Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood, who has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change and in 2018 told a rural conference that “shooting should be proud of its contribution to the countryside and the environment. It is a positive story that deserves to be told” – this despite the widely reported wildlife crime underpinning shooting and its environmental impact (from lead shot to burning, flooding, and the release of over 50 million non-native birds every year).

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Badgers | Shooting starts tonight

After a brief pause the quiet that settled over the countryside in spring is about to be shattered as the free-shooting of a protected species begins again. The pause in killing was presumably to allow badgers to have a breeding season, which is both deeply ironic and nauseating given that adults and young animals will be slaughtered in the coming months: Defra’s legally mandated nod to animal welfare for a few months does nothing to mitigate the massacre that is about to take place on their watch AGAIN. Pro-cull lobbyists often mock the feelings of pro-wildlife folk on social media. A particular favourite is to say this is about science not emotion. What a telling trope that is. The UK is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. We are disconnected from Nature and from wildlife. And all the time we are being told that data matters more than how we actually ‘feel’ about wildlife and the environment. Important decisions are of course based on data but when it comes to the mass killing of badgers it won’t matter whether massacring every single one of them helps ‘cure’ a disease that impacts an industry that we all know we could actually exist without – the fact is that it ‘feels’ abhorrent, it ‘feels’ totally wrong…

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Red Kite shot near Cotswolds shooting estate

A Red Kite (a protected species of course was shot close to the village of Salperton in the Cotswolds, about eight miles east of Cheltenham, on March 12th. Who would want to shoot a Red Kite? There are few details at the moment, but interestingly the local police released a tweet (see above) with two hashtags that presumably suggest where their thoughts lie: farming and shooting. alking of the shooting industry, anyone living locally will have had beels rung by the mention of Salperton. Yes, it is a village near Cheltenham, but it’s also the location of Salperton Park, and if you Google ‘pheasant shoot salperton’ – well, suddenly a possible connection between pheasants and blasting down a Red Kite (which will possibly have been scouting out a nesting territory in March when the shooting took place) emerges…

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Lockdown: birding vs shooting?

An interesting debate is taking place on Twitter right now, discussing why it is that shooters are able to go out and kill birds during lockdown while birders (of all sorts from ‘I like to look at birds while I walk’ to ‘I want that Northen Mockingbird on my list and I want it now’) aren’t allowed to just go and look at them. We 100% agree that travelling hundreds of miles during lockdown to congregate somewhere just to see a rare bird is an undeniably stupid thing to do. We are birders ourselves (and used to twitch regularly) but there’s no excuse for breaking the law and risking spreading a dangerous virus like Covid-19 under any circumstances. But this isn’t about a handful of birders behaving irresponsibly. The larger and more pertinent question is surely this: why is there a seeming disparity between the way birders and shooters are treated? How do shooters (and fox hunters before them – they managed to circumvent the ‘Rule of Six’ back in the autumn remember) seem to usually get what they want (which with the best will in the world is simply to be allowed to kill even more wild animals)?

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Staggering biomass of birds released by shooting industry

“We estimate that around a quarter of British bird biomass annually is contributed by Common Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges, and that at their peak in August these two species represent about half of all wild bird biomass in Britain.” In what world does that make sense? Leaving aside that they’re actually quite beautiful birds, Pheasants contribute absolutely nothing to the countryside. It takes years to get permits to release just a handful of Beavers into our rivers – they were once widespread here and they create valuable habitat while increasing diversity. It’s proved almost impossible to get permission to release Lynx – another species once here in good numbers that could help restore woodland understory by preying on Roe Deer. Wolves? Forget it. But the shooting industry can casually release a huge army of non-native pheasants that prey on everything from seeds, berries, leaves and insects to declining adders and lizards.

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Shooting | The ‘I was set up’ script

The RSPB Investigations Team have just posted a graphic blog looking at a wildlife crime that apparently – er, isn’t…The difficulties of obtaining prosecutions have been discussed many times before. Without anyone witnessing and recording an individual committing a crime, lawyers will typically fall back on the ‘not enough evidence’ defence. They don’t need to do much more than that. It may be bleeding obvious that an illegal trap used to catch raptors set on the fence of a pheasant shoot is going to have been placed by the gamekeeper (or an employee of the shooting estate) but that’s not enough – no matter how often it happens in exactly the same circumstances. Without video evidence – like the recording of the Goshawk killing on the Duchy of Lancaster’s estate in July – perpetrators of wildlife crime just keep getting away with it. What is particularly striking about this case, though, is that the gamekeeper involved didn’t just retreat into silence, he claimed that he was ‘set up’, saying that “the spring trap would not fit on the post next to where the dead kite was hanging”.

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