Author: Charlie

RPUK | FIFTYONE Hen Harriers missing or dead since 2018

Raptor Persecution UK are by now, as far as most people are concerned, the most accessible – and certainly most current – talliers of just how many Hen Harriers have ‘disappeared’ or been confirmed illegally killed on grouse moors. The site has today updated their list again following a response earlier this month to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request made to Natural England. In their most recent post they put the figure at a staggering fifty-one recorded dead or missing Hen Harriers – and that’s SINCE 2018. We don’t want to tread on RPUK’s toes in any way (though we’ve been assured many times by Dr Ruth Tingay that all she wants is to get the information out there and seen by as many people as possible) so we suggest heading over to the RPUK website immediately – but to summarise what they’re saying today is that they began compiling this astonishing and disgraceful roll-call of dead protected birds in 2018 because that is the year that the ridiculously self-important grouse shooters decided they would graciously stop illegally killing Hen Harriers and welcome them back to the moors instead…

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Wiltshire | Hunting Office seeking to influence Police and Crime Commissioner elections?

According to a new website called ‘Hunting Leaks’ (which was set up to help instigate multiple GDPR claims against the Countryside Alliance, a fascinating story in itself and well worth reading), the Hunting Office (the infamous ‘leaking like a sieve’ hunting coordinators that developed a series of seminars designed to help fox hunts make themselves appear legitimate – fifteen years after the Hunting Act came into force) are apparently raising funds to influence outcomes in the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections. We know this because Hunting Leaks has provided a link to the minutes of a Hunting Office meeting where this was discussed last year. So what to make of the Hunting Office raising funds to help get people like, for example, Jonathon Seed into office? Mr Seed was until relatively recently the only candidate standing for the role of PCC in Wiltshire, a largely rural county with a large number of active fox hunts. Including the Avon Vale Hunt (which often hunt around Lacock in Wiltshire) – of which Mr Seed is a former huntmaster…

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North Yorkshire | Yet another Buzzard found shot

Another day, another dead Buzzard. Hard to believe that all birds of prey have been protected for more than sixty years. How have we come to this? We live in a denuded country with such small wildlife populations they should be a national embarrassment but where killing wildlife is still an everyday event. Law enforcement is spotty and convictions are extremely rare. On the huge grouse farms in our so-called ‘national parks’ wildlife crime underpins driven grouse shooting (it’s unprofitable if birds of prey aren’t illegally stopped from taking Red Grouse). Pheasant shoots routinely complain about the ‘explosion’ in raptor numbers. Even our major nature charities won’t condemn the very same shooting industry that wants licences to remove ‘nuisance’ Buzzards…

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Suffolk | Police investigate illegal poisoning of a buzzard

A report emerged yesterday of a joint agency investigation by Suffolk Police, Natural England, and the RSPB Investigations Team into yet another killing of a Buzzard. There are few details at the moment (with no mention on the Suffolk Constabulary website), but a tweet from Suffolk Rural & Wildlife Policing said that several guns had been seized along with the ‘professional’s’ weapon of choice against birds of prey – pesticides (a few grains of Carbofuran sprinkled on to a rabbit corpse makes for an illegal but cheap and highly toxic bait). Suffolk, a county stuffed with shooting estates, has form when it comes to killing Buzzards. In February 2018 two buzzard corpses were reported to Suffolk Constabulary in an incident described by naturalists as “appalling and abhorrent.” The bodies were found in woodland known as Little Carr, “on the edge of a shooting estate” on the banks of the River Dove, near Hoxne.

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Wild Justice | Wales : further success on general licences.

“Wild Justice would like to thank BASC for their intervention in this case. In our opinion, BASC’s presence did nothing to change the course of this court case, which hinged on the law, except that it made it abundantly clear that BASC wished the licences to be interpreted in a much broader way with none of the restrictions of time of year or location that NRW, Wild Justice and now the court understand them to have. We thank BASC for demonstrating the impacts of the vagueness of the current published NRW licences.” A classic ‘burn’ from Dr Mark Avery, who is incredibly good at gently letting you know that he is in fact more intelligent than you are (as we can personally attest!). We can just picture his studied innocence when BASC come back at him – as they will – as he explains yet again that if you want to kill wildlife you should at least do so within the terms of the law…

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Nottinghamshire | Police investigation into killing of Buzzards

This news report from Nottinghamshire proves just how important it is for all of us to recognise a ‘crow cage trap’ when we see one. Depressingly, traps like these are legal when used correctly, but they litter the countryside and are especially common on grouse moors. They are used, as the name suggests, to catch corvids. A number of different traps exist: this is a ladder or letterbox type, and very simple to use. They’re often baited with a ‘call bird’, usually a corvid, which will have been trapped earlier and stuck inside this thing until the trap operator thinks it has done its job and is then killed. The decoy bird attracts the curiosity (or territorial aggression) of other corvids in the area. They will climb around the trap to explore it, find their way in through the narrow slats in the centre to get to the bird (or to food placed inside the trap), but be unable to get out again as their natural impulse to escape danger is to fly: with wings spread they can’t pass through the slats again.

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Badger Trust | Defra badger cull challenge response ‘meaningless’

“Once again we see a response with the same old platitudes and soundbites being rolled out. The vagueness is astounding, exposing what surely is a lack of a real plan, which in itself is unsurprising given that the badger cull to date has failed to deliver any robust results.” That’s Jo Bates-Keegan, Chair of Badger Trust, quoted in the charity’s latest press-release. No doubting there what she and the Badger Trust thinks about the Defra led ‘strategy’ to wipe out England’s badgers in a failed attempt to protect the dairy industry from a cattle disease. Hundreds of thousands of badgers dead, corpses of badgers thrown into sacks and dumped like trash, cattle still dying of Btb (before being sent to the slaughterhouse anyway), a former Farming Minister, George Eustice, seemingly wedded to the ‘slaughter and see’ approach, and far too many in the dairy industry refusing to properly address problems with biosecurity on farms or to embrace vaccination (ironically now seen as the best way out of another disease in the news lately)…

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Glastonbury Festival bans hunt stewards

“We can confirm that this group will not be stewarding at Glastonbury in the future, and that we have fully vetted our list of stewarding groups to ensure that there are no other hunting organisations represented on it.” Excellent news as fox hunting takes yet another hit. Glastonbury Festival has scrambled to respond to an avalanche of adverse comments on social media by no longer employing members of the notorious Mendip Farmers Hunt as stewards, who in the past had been working alongside (presumably unknowing) teams from Oxfam and Greenpeace. The link with Glastonbury – which has always sold itself as ‘green’ despite founder Michael Eavis’s well-documented support for the badger cull – was detailed after a member of the hunt lost a memory stick which included details of all current hunt members and its financial statements. The fees previously paid to the hunt stewards by the festival had effectively been subsidising the hunt itself. As meeting minutes also found on the memory stick show, the Hunt is in a financially poor state and already lamenting the loss of income the pandemic was causing them, a situation that all hunts must be facing as more and more ‘dates’ are cancelled and riding out fees lost.

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