Author: Charlie Moores

California | Monarch Butterflies now rarer than Starbucks

We’ve posted several times about the plummeting numbers of Monarch Butterflies. Once an abundant species that wintered in vast numbers in Mexican pine forests (check out nature documentaries from just a decade ago that showed whole trees weighed down with hibernating Monarchs), the two populations (western and eastern, divided by the Rockies) are vanishing in an extinction reminiscent of the Passenger Pigeon or Buffalo. Once such an integral part of the landscape, literally billions of Monarchs were found right across North America. In 2020 the western Monarch was thought to be functionally extinct, and according to recent estimates just 2000 overwintering western Monarchs were counted this year. Eastern Monarchs are headed in the same direction and have declined by more than 80% over the past two decades. Most of us will have seen Monarchs at some point, or seen videos of them shimmering in shards of sunlight. It’s an incredibly depressing thought that if you haven’t and you want to, you really don’t have much time left…

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Hunt Investigation Team | Government Call for Evidence on Snaring

Snares are routinely used throughout the UK but members of the public often don’t know the scale of the cruelty they inflict. Snares are thin wire nooses, set by famers and gamekeepers to catch mammals such as foxes and rabbits. Snares are a very old form of “pest control” – a phrase and practice which is massively outdated today. Snares are causing suffering and death on farmland and shooting estates up and down the country. Often, reports circulate in local news and on social media – we need YOUR HELP to compile them to submit as evidence in the government’s call for information. We need to show the carnage in our countryside, caused by cruel snares. We need to advocate for the animals, killed and injured in the traps. We need to fight for a ban on these outdated devices.

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The National Trust and Trail Hunting 2021

There is no such thing as so-called ‘trail hunting’. It was invented by fox hunts after the passing of the Hunting Act 2004 (which banned hunting with hounds) and is a smokescreen for illegal fox hunting – even the Masters of Foxhounds Association seems to agree with that. Hunts up and down the country routinely break the law, cause chaos on main roads, use violence against monitors (who are only present to stop wildlife crime taking place), lose control of their hounds, and use terrier men to illegally block or interfere with badger setts. Hunting can sue us if it can prove otherwise – it can’t, and it won’t anyway because the last thing it wants is to have its filthy laundry dragged through the courts…So why does the National Trust, one of the nation’s most respected conservation charities and one of its largest landowners, allow so-called ‘trail hunting? Because its Chair (and soon to be former Chair) used proxy votes at the Trust’s AGM in 2017 to vote down a proposal that the National Trust should stop issuing licences to hunts to use their land. The Trust has been forced to explain its highly contrary position of protecting wildlife while facilitating hunting ever since, referring questions on social media to the disingenuous “Our position on Trail Hunting” page on its website.

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Update | Western Hunt and Mini’s Law

In mid-May we posted a ‘kudos’ to Keep the Ban, the excellent campaigning group fighting to stop illegal fox hunting. KKeep the Ban had been working hard to keep a petition in the news which had arisen from a disgraceful incident where out of control hunt hounds (belonging to the Western Hunt) had mauled to death a pet cat called Mini in a quiet residential street in Cornwall. A so-called ‘huntsman’ (you can draw your own conclusions about what sort of ‘man’ this was) was seen to throw the body of Mini into a neighbouring garden and walk off. Come forward to the present and some welcome news. A huntsman has been charged by Devon and Cornwall Police in connection with this incident. John Lanyon Sampson, aged 55, of St Buryan, is due to appear before Truro Magistrates’ Court on 22 July where he will face charges of criminal damage and being the owner/person in charge of a dog dangerously out of control in a private or public place.

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Tree feller fined for destroying an active bird of prey nest

A ‘tree feller’ and a ‘bird of prey nest’. The headline from the Stroud News today tells just half the story, because the bird of prey in question was a Goshawk (one of the country’s rarest birds of prey – and a species loathed by shooting estates) and the ‘tree feller’ (or ‘agricultural labourer as he’s described in the report) took out just one tree in the wood, and that one tree contained the active nest. It’s hard to miss a large raptor’s nest (and female Goshawks are the same size as Buzzards). They are a massive pile of sticks, the ground below is spattered with ‘whitewash’, and Goshawks are noisy birds. Anyone from a tree feller to an agricultural labourer to a shooting estate manager will know damn well there is an active Goshawk pair in a woodland if they spend more than a few hours in the locale. It is inconceivable that just one tree could be cut down without the individual knowing that it contained an active nest. The RSPB Investigations Team clearly think so too, and are quoted saying in an exasperated tone, “It appears that this was the only tree in the wood to be felled and then completely removed at a time when it contained an active goshawk nest” adding that raptor persecution is a National Wildlife Crime priority and the Goshawk a priority species.

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BBC News | Old sett blockers taught new tricks

A BBC News report this evening is headlined “Men deny interfering with active badger setts in Devon”. On the surface it’s a rather typical tale of ‘terrier men’ (who stand out even amongst a group of thuggish lawbreakers as one of the nastier forms of illegal fox hunters) blocking the entrances to badger setts. Now, badgers are protected by law of course. That has never stopped terrier men, who (allegedly, m’lud) routinely block badger setts to stop foxes disappearing underground (where they will be flushed out by the terriers who are also routinely scarred for life in fights with badgers) or to net emerging badgers for illegal badger baiting. Badger setts are protected by law too. But only if they’re active. This case is still going through the court so we won’t speculate on outcomes (even though the terrier men don’ deny blocking the sett with the hunt paying for lawyers who apparently couldn’t care less about badgers – or why defend these notorious thugs? – it’s likely they’ll get off). Same old, same old frankly. What is perhaps more interesting, though, is the language that the defendants use in court now and that is referenced to in the article from the BBC.

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Jonathon Seed | Police seek CPS advice over aborted PCC election

It’s not been a good few months for ex-foxhunting, red-faced would-be Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Jonathon Seed. Having dodged question after question about his past chasing and killing wildlife, having decided that ‘only ‘trolls’ talk about hunting’, and having merrily told anyone who would listen how he would follow a Countryside Alliance-type line and would crack down on hunt monitors, he was undone by a drink driving charge thirty years old – which ruled him out of even standing for PCC in the first place. The cost of running in an election when he or his team should have known that he was ineligible is now being investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service. To be completely fair to Mr Seed, he has repeatedly insisted he had declared his 30-year-old conviction to the party in his application for the role. But here he is, with the CPS possibly thinking that, “wouldn’t you think that one of the criteria for being a PCC would be having some basic knowledge of the eligibility rules”.

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Peterborough protest over city hunting festival

Hello Peterborough Council, this is the 21st Century calling…demanding to know what the actual f are you doing supporting a grubby lobby group like the Countryside Alliance and violent hunt thugs by hosting a so-called Festival of Hunting this month? Fox hunting was banned by the Hunting Act, everyone and their dog knows that ‘trail hunting’ is a smokescreen for illegal fox hunting, that hunts break the law every day they go out, This is a world of harassment and intimidation, of threats and aggression, a disgusting throwback to a time when ecology was poorly understood and wild animals were thought to be little more than furry (or feathered) machines acting on instinct and incapable of fear or affection. Get your act together and get this celebration of cruelty and lawbreaking banned – as your taxpayers and residents want you to.

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