Author: Charlie Moores

Wales | Hedgerow netting that stops birds nesting

Another Spring, another use of netting to stop birds from nesting so as not to inconvenience (or cost) a developer – this time from Powys in Wales. Why would anyone net a hedge? Because while active nests of almost all bird species are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (see Nesting birds and the Law), stopping them from nesting in the first place is not. So, as a pre-emptive strike (and often even before the development has been given permission to go ahead) developers are putting up nets (or recommending others do it). And what a handy excuse it’s becoming. Note in the article below the either breathtakingly ignorant or breathtakingly mendacious claim that netting a hedgerow “should not be interpreted as pre-empting the planning process”. Over-use of pesticides, intensive agriculture, an obsession with ‘tidiness’, massive habitat change, and now determined efforts to stop our birds from nesting. Little wonder why we are living in one of the most nature-depleted regions on the planet…

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Petition | No fun for Nature – Save Swanscombe Marshes

The Swanscombe Peninsula is home to a remarkable mix of habitat of high value to wildlife – these include grasslands, coastal habitats, brownfield features, scrub and intricate wetlands. Known as Swanscombe Marshes, this urban wilderness is home to thousands of species, including over 250 invertebrate species which are rare or under threat. As well as abundant bees, butterflies and beetles, Swanscombe Marshes is one of just two places in the UK where you can find the Critically Endangered Distinguished jumping spider (Attulus distinguendus). It is home to Nightingales, Cuckoos, Marsh Harriers and a thriving population of Common lizards, thanks to its array of rich habitats. But all of this is now threatened by the proposed London Resort theme park.

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Petition | Protect Mountain Hares under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

On March 1st this year Scotland’s Mountain Hares received protection (on paper anyway). Thanks to the efforts of Green MSP Alison Johnstone, new regulations mean that it is ‘illegal to intentionally kill, injure or take Mountain Hares without a licence’ (as we pointed out in Scotland | Mountain Hares are now a protected species the ‘without a licence‘ clause is of course extremely important here. How easy it will be to get a licence and, crucially, how strictly Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH, the licence-issuers) will ensure that licence criteria are adhered to will be a vital measure of how seriously this legislation is taken). The actions in Scotland now leave the isolated populations of Mountain Hares in England and Wales unprotected. Especially unprotected on grouse moors in the Peak District where the hares there survive under the same gamekeeping regime as their Scottish counterparts. Mountain Hares could easily be given adequate protection by an amendment to the Wildlife & Countryside Act, the primary legislation which protects animals, plants and habitats in the UK. Which is exactly what the Hare Preservation Trust is asking for in a new petition launched yesterday.

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Gamekeeper filmed using Eagle owl to lure Buzzards to their deaths

The remarkable RSPB Investigations Unit has – as the title of this post – states, filmed a gamekeeper on a grouse moor using a decoy to shoot two Buzzards. Just say that out aloud: a professional hired by a shooting estate has been filmed using a tethered owl to shoot two protected birds of prey. Two crimes in one short sentence: using a tethered bird as a decoy is illegal, and – oh, yes – so is killing Buzzards. Gamekeeper. Grouse moor. Wildlife crime. And trolls on this site wonder why we and others are so outraged by the mindset of shooting and its employees. If they haven’t quite got it yet, it is because driven grouse shooting is underpinned by criminality and that criminality is undertaken by gamekeepers…

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Neonicotinoid seed treatment will not be used on 2021 beet crop

An emergency authorisation for the use of neonicotinoid seed treatment Cruiser SB on this year’s sugar beet crop will now not be used, after analysis of aphid populations by scientists. Three neonicotinoids (or neonics as they’re often known) were banned in the UK for outdoor use after their impacts on bees and other pollinators could no longer be denied by the agricultural industry. Cruiser SB, made by Syngenta, contains the banned neonic Thiamethoxam, a potent toxin that a 2017 report in the journal Scientific Reports said altered “honey bee activity, motor functions, and movement to light” and which was reported almost a decade ago to have “high toxicity to birds if directly consumed”.

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Guest Post | George Millins: Sizewell Nuclear Reptiles

“Plans to build twin fission reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk are a monstrous insult to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Already a broad range of objections relates to how construction plans with thousands of workers will swamp this fragile place. There are safety concerns and plans for a permanent uranium isotope storage dump on the side of the beach. This lies next to a coastal sandbank that was formed by a storm surge in 1953 that has halved in size since 1995. The idea that the station will form an island in the sea is a distinct possibility, not a guess or a worst-case scenario. The effects of new roads and road traffic is a particularly nasty way in which wildlife is fragmented and then depleted in a landscape.” Guest post by George Millins

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Petition Update | Save last North Shields nesting kittiwakes – Remove the netting!

The netting off of nest sites is becoming a real blight across the UK, as the #NestsNotNets Twitter campaign has been detailing. Why is this happening? Nests of almost all wild birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and amendments) as we have explored extensively in our ever-evolving post Nesting Birds and the Law, but in most cases nest sites are not. If developers or local authorities can stop nests from being started, then technically they are not breaking the law. It’s a ridiculous situation and is being exploited time and time again. One of the most notorious examples – thanks to excellent work by local campaigners – is the disgraceful deterrent measures being used on ledges used by (Black-legged) Kittiwakes along the Tyne River in North Shields. Daniel Turner launched a petition on Change.org last year, calling for the removal of all bird-deterrent netting. He has been posting regular updates on the petition page, and has just posted this tenth update.

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Bangladesh | National Ketoprofen Ban

The Oriental White-backed Vulture of India and southeast Asia was so abundant up until the 1980s that it was considered one of the most common large birds of prey in the world. Once numbering several million individuals, just a few decades later it was listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered after an almost incomprehensible 99.9% decline.Iin Asia especially vultures have been almost wiped out through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like Diclofenac, which are routinely given to cattle. Vultures scavenging on the carcasses of cattle that have been recently treated with the drug, develop gout, kidney failure and die within just a few days. Diclofenac was banned over a decade ago, but was quickly replaced with a similar drug, Ketoprofen, which is also deadly to vultures. So the ban reported by SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) is a significant step forward…

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