Author: Charlie Moores

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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Dorset | Pro-wildlife group banned from agricultural show

Which brings us to Dorset’s Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show, an ‘agricultural show’ which would apparently rather butter up fox hunts than honour an invitation given to a small group that campaigns against illegal fox hunting. But there’s an added twist here. The decision to ban Action Against Fox Hunting (AAF) came after they say ‘countryfolk’ on a notorious online Facebook group threatened them with violence. Which just stinks to high heaven frankly…AAF recognise that they will be at odds with some of the elements at the Show and have taken steps to avoid confrontation. They state clearly on their website that as the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show is a family-friendly show, they had “decided to aim our outreach at children and make it about foxes, rather than hunting. We bought masks for children to colour in, and we bought crayons. We had some life-size cardboard cutouts of foxes made. We also professionally designed “Learning Boards” for children. We spent a lot of our precious donations on equipment for the stall. We planned to keep the hunting information very low-key.” It’s difficult to draw any conclusion other than that the organisers of the Show are intolerant of pro-wildlife views, don’t want to be held responsible for the actions of the people they let into the showground, and would much rather allow fox hunts to parade without opposing views upsetting the sensitive darlings.

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Consultation on extending the Ivory Act to other species

Defra have launched a public consultation which will potentially strengthen the UK’s Ivory Act, by extending protection to include all five CITES-listed ivory-bearing species (hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus).rather than just elephants as now. Hippos are targeted by trophy hunters but they are also targeted for their ivory. Narwhals (there are thought to bne just 75,000 individuals left), walruses, sperm and killer whales are also hunted for their tusks and teeth. The ivory trade is a huge threat to ALL ivory bearing species, and the UK’s Ivory Act which will be enacted later this year could be one of the most comprehensive bans on ivory trade in the world.

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Botham declares war on the RSPB

The charmless ex-cricketer and now spokesperson for shooting ‘Beefy’ Botham (the nickname was apparently to do with his fighting physique when a professional player, but most of us now assume it refers to what’s between his ears) has stunned the world (not really) by announcing in the ‘irrelevant-out-here-in-the-real-world’ Daily Telegraph that the country’s shooting lobbyists, all of which sing roughly the same tune when it comes to blasting little birds out of the sky and destroying what they inaccurately refer to as ‘vermin’, are grouping together. Well, swipe me, we never saw that coming, what a masterstroke etc etc. Having been practically inseparable for years anyway, the lobbyists and the gamekeepers – presumably in the face of falling memberships – will be a mighty force (again, not really) loudly holding on to their anachronistic values of wildlife slaughter in the face of climate change, massive biodiversity loss, and a public that is realising just how important healthy ecosystems and nature actually are. It will be fascinating to watch this unholy alliance bickering amongst themselves as, for example, the CA says something so utterly stupid that even BASC can’t go along with it, or representatives of the Scottish Gamekeepers once again reveal their more thuggish and thoroughly unpleasant side on social media and threaten to drag the whole ship further onto the rocks. We’d feel sorry for them if – oh, strike that, there are no circumstances whatsoever where we wouldn’t enjoy watching this ‘alliance’ implode…Perhaps the most striking few lines of an otherwise forgettable and highly predictable run through of Beefy’s gripes is his declaration of war on the RSPB – a charity with more than a million members and (somewhat bewilderingly to many of us) a history of trying its damnedest to work with shooting. There could be any number of consequences of this ignorant attack. but here’s two to think about…

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Tom Langton | High Court Challenge and ‘Next Steps’ Policy

“It’s such a sad indictment of the current way in which science is conducted and vested interests have infected our society.” Ecologist Tom Langton has been looking at the scientific and legal aspects of the dreaded badger culls since 2016, and this summer represents his fifth year working on what is being described as the worst miscarriage of UK biological science for fifty years. In this ‘shortcast’ (=short podcast) recorded for Off the Leash Podcasts, Tom explains a bit about the new 2020 policy and what exactly was being challenged – a challenge which, incidentally, has taken over a year of battling to gain permission for.

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Interview | Nick Weston, League Against Cruel Sports

“..to do anything other than get rid of the licences would be bad for animals…which is ultimately why we’re doing this, it’s for the animals…” Nick Weston is the Head of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports. Like everyone else at the League (and at other animal welfare/animal rights organisations) he is passionate about animals. It seems an obvious statement to make, but sometimes even seasoned campaigners get so involved in the latest struggle that we forget to make it clear why we fight, why we protest and campaign. Without wanting to put words in anyone else’s mouth, it’s because we love animals. As Chris Packham has so astutely said, we are fuelled by a sense of injustice. We detest the bullies who hurt them and loathe the organisations that work to find ways to marginalise or demonise them because we are compelled by a need to help and protect. In the following interview Charlie Moores talks with Nick about the National Trust’s position on so-called ‘trail hunting’ and the work being done by campaigners to ensure that by the next AGM (this autumn) as many members of the Trust as possible know that their charity facilitates hunting on its land and that through its licences the Trust is not just risking damage to protected landscapes but allowing animals to be harmed as well.

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Vegan Society | Planting Value in the Food System

So much of the biodiversity loss we discuss on this site results from what we eat. That might seem an odd call to make, but food production is a vast driver of ecosystem change. Human demand for food impacts the rest of life on the planet through the land we take to grow our crops, the forests we clear for oils and soya, the rivers we’ve diverted to irrigate crops, the uncountable insects and plants we’ve destroyed with our pesticides – and that’s not to mention the trillions and trillions of animals we’ve taken from the oceans or locked into factory farms. As the Vegan Society says quite correctly, “our food system is broken”. Is there an alternative though? Published on the 12th July by the Vegan Society, Planting Value in the Food System presents an ambitious but practical vision for a fully plant-based food system with the ability to help achieve climate targets, reduce the impact on our health service, improve the experiences of farmers and farm workers, and ultimately save the lives of thousands of animals.

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