Author: Charlie

No, Woodcock and Snipe are NOT the same species

An odd thread appeared on Twitter over the weekend, which was started by Scottish campaigner Andy Paton but soon derailed by – well, it was hard to tell really…Andy had quite rightly pointed out that shooters were being asked not to go out killing endangered hard-weather movement birds like Woodcock and Common Snipe, because of – er, the hard-weather. Which makes huge sense if you’re actually interested in the conservation and protection of wild birds, but of course not so much if you’re a shooter and all that matters is the opportunity to blast a few half-starving birds out of the sky that have had the misfortune to arrive in the UK from regions to the north and to the east where the ground has frozen over meaning they can’t feed. The ‘odd’ part of the thread was the ‘contribution’ (which is being kind) from Phil ‘Beware the Woke’ Woods, who rashly decided he was the right person to teach Andy a lesson in ornithology, declaring in sneering terms that “Woodcock and snipe are the same bird and it is not endangered”. They’re not, and they are…Anyone can make a mistake, but why leap in like this…?

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Cheshire West | ‘Trail Hunting’ to go under the microscope

Cheshire West and Chester Council has announced plans to set up a cross-party group to examine ‘trail hunting’ in detail. The move has been heavily criticised by a number of Conservatives on the group (apparently because they appear to think the Council can only concentrate on one thing at a time), but – reaching for the pro-hunt lobbyist playbook – has been welcomed by the pro-hunt lobby group ‘Countryside Alliance’: they are quoted in the report below saying that, “the local rural and trail hunting communities would hope to be able to provide input for this group to maintain balance and ensure it is not driven by prejudice”. The CA are evidently trying to appear ‘reasonable’ (a bit difficult after 15 years of slamming the Hunting Act and denigrating the many pro-wildlife members of those same rural communities). They may think that’s the clever option, but as they may learn, once statements have been put on the record they can come back and bite you. If “the local rural and trail hunting communities” were to detail exactly what they do (or more importantly list exactly what they know that they can and can’t do under the Hunting Act), it would be extremely hard to defend themselves if they were then subsequently caught out hunting again. The CA may just be giving local hunts enough rope to hang themselves with…

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Appeal | Help find Oxfordshire illegal fox trapper

On December 24th horrific photos emerged from near Abingdon, Oxford of a fox dragging around a spring-loaded ‘gin trap’. The animal must have been in agony and in shock, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Rescue (OWR) spent the night with other concerned local residents looking for him/her so that they could remove it. Traps like these – which have incredibly powerful metal spring jaws and cause significant injury and pain – have been banned for use in the UK since July 1958. Unfortunately, though, it is still legal to sell these disgusting traps as ‘antiques’ for display purposes only, which means there are still plenty in circulation. Whoever set this trap needs to be prosecuted. Finding out who that is, is of course not easy, but a fund has been set up and the ‘go fund me’ appeal which is linked to here has been set up to add to that reward (and kudos Christine Hoxworth for taking the initiative).

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Ban Snares in Wales

Snares are horrible things – steel nooses that are banned in many countries, but not here in the UK. Why would that be? Because the shooting industry uses them. Thousands upon thousands of them. They’re cheap to make, easy to use, light to carry, quickly replaced if you can’t quite remember where you left them. They’re basically an easy, low-skilled way to kill (or maim/injure) wildlife. And the shooting industry loves them. the industry may try to greenwash its use of snares and its considerations for animal welfare, wild animals – whether predator or prey animals – don’t behave passively under stressful conditions. Frightened, trapped animals will always try to escape. The internet is awash with images showing animals that have been almost cut in half by snares, that have died wrapped up in them, that – rather than sit and pass the time of day reflecting on how nice it is not to run around for a change – have tried to gnaw off their own limbs to escape them. The following petition is aimed at securing a ban in Wales, but is open to all of us to sign.

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Interesting parallels

Last night the world watched in astonishment as a mob, whipped up by a sitting President, vandalised the seat of power in the heart of Washington. Talking about US politics is generally outside the purview of this site – though Trump’s trashing of environmental protections has featured several times – but there are interesting parallels here with an issue we do talk about a great deal: fox hunting, and in this case specifically ongoing claims that the Hunting Act is undemocratic (so in practice can simply be ignored) and the threatening behaviour of some hunt followers (which has never been properly reined in by hunting’s elite). Hunts would prefer a ‘what happens in the countryside stays in the countryside’ dynamic, but that’s not how the world works anymore. Routine use of mobile phones, of cc TV, and increasingly of drones, is capturing more and more incidents of fox hunting and acts of aggression. Lawbreaking by hunts and the violence that follows them around has now been covered widely by everyone from bloggers and social media influencers to mainstream media journalists. It is vehemently opposed by the public, and there is no evidence whatsoever that the neutral observer seeing the cruelty, illegality and violence of fox hunting is ever converted into a passionate pro-hunt supporter. The flow is one way.

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Wild Justice | ‘Wilful Blindness’ petition in court soon

Wild Justice themselves put it perfectly on their blog: “This is a surprise…”. Not because the cause doesn’t deserve its day in court, but because a VERY long time has passed since this petition elapsed. Never mind that, though, on January 25th Wild Justice will be fighting for wildlife again – and no doubt (sadly) running headlong into the same selfish lobbyists who would stand up for shooting wildlife even if the country was on its knees and almost shut down entirely by a pandemic…

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National Lockdown | Hunting Season on hold

It’s official – at least, even the self-important so-called ‘Hunting Office’ (of leaked webinar infamy, and which says it is “the executive arm of the Governing bodies for Hunting with hounds” – which of course the Hunting Act 2004 says is illegal), has acknowledged that fox hunting is on hold while the laws governing the latest national lockdown are in place. Could this mean the end of fox hunting entirely? Hunts are under huge pressure (both financially and from constant monitoring), and the public is more and more aware of the widespread and organised criminality that is rife within fox hunting, but many fox hunters are used to breaking the law and feel impervious. While they certainly could usefully spend the time changing from fox hunting to drag hunting (which is entirely legal and does not involve killing animals) they will be back, but every ‘season’ sees hunts fold and this is probably the best chance in years to finally get this barabaric, cruel, and illegal activity shut down for good. We have an idea to help that happen…

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Petition Response | “Change outdated laws to prevent forest felling when baby animals are in nests”

Like many other people we recently signed a petition asking the government to tighten up laws around tree felling to protect breeding / nesting wildlife. The government’s response is not exactly newsworthy – in essence, “no change needed” – but it does provide us all with a handy guide to wave under the noses of contractors we suspect might be breaking the law (unless those contractors work for HS2 who appear to have been granted licences to do pretty much whatever they like to whatever they like and seem immunised against any legitimate protest). As the government acknowledges in its response, “While illegal felling rates are relatively low, evidence suggests that they are increasing” – we all clearly need to be aware of the law and be prepared to challenge illegal work on hedges and trees whenever we see it taking place.

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