Author: Charlie Moores

Interview: Dr Alex Lees | Provisioning: Killing with Kindness?

Charlie Moores in conversation with Dr Alex Lees, Senior Lecturer in Conservation Biology at Manchester Metropolitan University. Recently Alex and Dr Jack Shutt published a paper that was widely reported in the mainstream media titled “Killing with kindness: Does widespread generalised provisioning of wildlife help or hinder biodiversity conservation efforts?” In very simple terms, then, the paper is asking whether providing wildlife with extra resources like food and nesting sites could be having a negative impact on some declining species – which, if you feed your garden birds like I do, is – well, food for thought…

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OneKind | Fox hunting foot packs & wildlife crime on Scotland’s public land

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) submitted by Edinburgh-based wildlife charity OneKind has revealed that Forestry Land Scotland (FLS) has continued to allow fox hunting foot packs access on its land since a previous exposé in Spring 2020 (mirroring the situation in England where Forestry England had allowed so-called ‘trail hunting’ to take place despite information that hunts were breaking the law). The FOI also reveals that FLS have been unable to stop ongoing wildlife crime which has been taking place on Scotland’s public lands since 2016, and which FLS suspect to be committed by gamekeepers. External reports of ‘out of control’ hounds in the FOI also highlight just how weak Scotland’s fox hunting legislation is and why reform is urgently needed.

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Guest Post | Geronimo: All aboard the express towards scientific reason and compassion.

“The potential for false-positive results is accepted by all parties. Geronimo tested negative before import and no bTB outbreak has ever been observed at either the UK or the New Zealand farm. This use of the bTB tests and methodology have been identified to be inappropriate, scientifically flawed or leading to questionable results by a number of experts, including the test’s creator. A large group of veterinarians have also urged caution about trusting the allegedly positive results. All parties accept Geronimo poses no risk to humans or other animals, while one of the government’s own advisors previously suggested isolation and restricted movement as an alternative to slaughter.” Guest post by Mark Wlliams

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Britain’s National Parks – protecting Red Grouse for the guns

We have consistently described our national parks – supposedly the most important and most precious of our landscapes – as ‘so-called national parks’. We have said that because our ‘so-called national parks’ are – to a large extent – in fact managed not to conserve the magnificence of the Cairngorms, the Peak District, or the North York Moors, but to conserve grouse shooting (see, for example, Shooting in national parks from Dec 2019) And grouse shooting, as we’ve also consistently said – and as Luke Steele laid out in an interview we posted yesterday – is underpinned by wildlife crime (the extent of raptor persecution in our so-called national parks is shameful). is a pollutant, and is damaging land that could be key to the UK’s attempts to bring down its carbon emissions. What we’ve not had access to are figures that state exactly how much of our so-called national parks is given over to slaughtering wildlife, is covered in traps and snares, and run solely for the benefit of a tiny minority of shooters and their lobbyists. Now, though, Rewildling Britain (the charity set up to “expand the scale, quality and connectivity of our native habitats”) has produced research that does just that.

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Interview | Luke Steele, Wild Moors

Charlie Moores talks with Luke Steele about grouse moors, upland rewilding, and the role peatlands can play in carbon storage. Luke is Executive Director of Wild Moors, the recently renamed organisation that has sprung up from Ban Bloodsports on Yorkshire’s Moors, a group founded in 2014 with the stated aim of ending grouse shooting on Yorkshire’s moors “to free the way for these spaces to be managed in a way where their full potential can be reached”.  Wild Moors very much continues that work, but has broadened its scope beyond Yorkshire to help create a new vision of uplands across the UK. In the lead up to the ‘Inglorious 12th’ – the start of a season where ‘sportsmen’ visit degraded moorlands to use Red Grouse as live targets – Luke and Charlie look at the failing grouse shooting industry, positive movement by Yorkshire Water on the management of its land, and a brighter future for our uplands and its wildlife – but they begin by discussing the rebranding of the group.

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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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#TrailHuntLies | Terrier men convicted of badger sett digging

Terrier men are the thuggish ‘enforcers’ of the hunting world, revelling in their reputations as intimidators of peaceful, law-abiding hunt monitors. Their ‘job’ is to send terriers down holes to flush out foxes so that hunts can continue the chase. They also go out in advance of the hunts to beat people up (sorry, that would be libellous) to illegally block up badger setts so that foxes can’t get away (so that hunts etc etc). Little wonder that Hankinson pointed out that having these people on a ‘trail hunt’ does wave the biggest and reddest of big red flags that the hunt is quite happy to break the law (‘screw the Hunting Act we’re here to kill foxes’). The sordid world of the terrier man has rarely been uncovered for public view. but in yet another blow for the hunt lobbyists who perpetuate ‘trail hunt lies’, two of the brotherhood of badger diggers and dog fighters have appeared in court. And everyone from the BBC to local media have learned a little bit more about a ‘job’ that needs to go the way of the bear baiter and the vivisectionist.

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