Author: Charlie Moores

Spain’s hunters agree to temporarily stop killing endangered bird

And the emphasis is on ‘temporarily’ – for just one year. Just one year for Turtle Doves to slightly recover enough to ensure that Europe’s notoriously ignorant and utterly selfish poachers have more Turtle Doves to kill in 2022…because you can be 100% certain that they will be back out after showing ‘restraint’ for one miserable season before they blast as many Turtle Doves out of the sky as they can. And it’s for this that conservationists are saying, “The engagement of the Spanish hunting community will make a significant contribution to help save this Globally Threatened species”? The putting down of the guns and not slaughtering a massively declining species ever again would be true engagement, but when conservation’s victories are so small I guess we have to take them where we can…

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Peregrine chicks taken in Peak District nest raid

Another godawful headline (this time from the Derby Telegraph) for the ‘authorities’ that supposedly run the Peak District National Park – a supposedly protected landscape blasted by grouse shooting and a bottomless pit for wildlife crime and raptor persecution. No, there is nothing in the newspaper report that specifically points to grouse shooting for the removal of yet more Peregrines – it could have been Mark Avery’s fabled ‘nurses on a day out’ enjoying a spot of falcon theft what done it – and it could have been linked to pigeon flyers or wealthy falconers – but the fact is that the ‘dark peak’ area of this blighted part of the countryside is notorious for its gamekeepers and their tight hold over everything that comes in or out of the grouse moors, and (as Bob Berzins memorably put it in a stinging post on Mountain Hare persecution in the very same ‘national park’ just yesterday), “There is no video footage of gamekeepers shooting mountain hares but then again there’s no footage of them shooting raptors either. So we’re left to explain the gaps in our skies, our missing birds and mammals…Spend time in the uplands and it’s obvious what’s happening”.

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Guest Post | Mountain Hares – Can they survive alongside Driven Grouse Shooting?

“The fate of mountain hares is subject to the same spin, falsehoods and lies we hear regularly from those champions of conservation: the grouse shooting Industry. Just as every gamekeeper is supposedly a friend of raptors, we also hear they’re the friends of hares. A propaganda video from the Gift Of Grouse has a caption of “There’s no shortage of mountain hare on land managed for grouse shooting due to predator control and healthy moorland” – all in an area with a well-documented history of large scale mountain hare killing. Some of the online moderators at Hare Preservation Trust thought the video showed hares being rounded up for slaughter and wanted the video to be deleted. Instead it was the moderators who were removed from their posts. The list of species which gamekeepers leave alone is a short one indeed: waders of course, but not much else. For raptors, statistics are selectively used: for a bird like peregrine, they’d happily quote the thriving populations in the White Peak, not the lack of birds in the grouse shooting Dark Peak. Merlin are generally left alone – sometimes weighing as little as 160g they’re not seen as a threat to grouse..” Guest post by Bob Berzins

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Wales | No to badger culling

While Wales is more famous for the endless hordes of sheep that lay waste to its hills and vallies (there are around three times as many sheep in Wales than people), Wales also has substantial numbers of cattle – and not insubstantial numbers of badgers. Here in England that would mean the NFU nodding across the table to their colleagues in Defra to wave through more badger killing to allegedly tackle bovine tuberculosis (bTB), a respiratory disease of cattle of course. But in Wales they have different ideas. Fortunately. In fact, Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has recently set out a clear plan of attack to tackle bTB, which puts the blame on cattle – and farmers – for spreading the disease. Highlighting the Welsh Labour Government’s commitment in its election manifesto, which is now confirmed in their ‘Programme for Government’, Mr Drakeford stated on the floor of the Senedd that ‘Culling of badgers will not happen in Wales’. The Programme itself states that the Government ‘forbid the culling of badgers to control the spread of TB in cattle.’

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Great news – it’s becoming too risky to buy a grouse moor

As the evidence has mounted up, as the wildlife crime, the climate issues, the deliberate targeting of predators, the wanton slaughter of grouse, and the campaigning has become impossible to ignore, the tide has turned against grouse shooting. Governments are looking at licencing estates. Land owning utilities and local councils are banning burning and looking for more environmentally-friendly ways to use moorland. Rewilding grouse moors so that they do public good and function as intact ecosystems, working for the climate rather than against it, looks increasingly viable. The upshot is that potential grouse moor owners are becoming more reluctant to invest in grouse farming. It’s always been difficult to make a profit from killing Red Grouse, but now buying a grouse moor is becoming risky too. Would-be owners simply don’t know what new laws might be brought in before they’ve been able to take money out of the moor. It could become harder to sell your ‘look at me’ asset in the future as well. Grouse shooting is buckling under the pressure…

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Update | Help stop badger culling adding to England’s Biodiversity catastrophe

Excellent news from the desk of one of the UK’s busiest ecologists – Tom Langton. Tom was recently given permission (after much pushback from Defra), to challenge the so-called ‘badger cull’ in the High Court and set up a crowdfunder. After a slow start the fund raising is going really well, and the challenge has been moved forward because of the government’s plans to move forward with supplementary killing of protected animals across large areas of the country. And the bit about England’s ‘biodiversity catastrophe’? Astonishingly for all our self-congratulations about being a ‘country of animal lovers’, we have lost so many of our animals (and plants) that the UK as a whole is one of the most nature-depleted countries n the world and a recent report from the RSPB, using data compiled by the Natural History Museum, published ahead of last week’s G7 Summit, found that the UK is the worst nation in the G7 for the volume of wildlife and wild spaces lost due to human activity. Which is yet another reason why we need to be protecting what is left of our biodiversity.

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Equipment Fund – next steps

As we wrote last week, we were recently offered a donation to help tackle the war on wildlife. As we explained in that post, we felt that the best way to use this generous donation might be to set up an ‘equipment fund’ to help smaller groups (many of which we know from experience are made up of a handful of highly-committed individuals often having to fund their extraordinary work themselves) buy items to use in the field like video cameras, trail cams, night vision scopes, GPS Units, recording equipment etc. We pitched that idea to the internet and (we’re pleased – and excited – to say) it’s received really positive feedback. So that’s what we’re going to do. The next step, then, is to give you some more details and a few T&Cs, and – if you feel they are right for you or your group – for you to apply.

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WCL | DEFRA fails to set target to halt decline of nature

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the government’s plans for the Environment now that we have left the EU and No10 is redrawing itself as wildlife-friendly. Last month, George Eustice, the current Environment Secretary promised a “Net Zero equivalent for nature” through a “legally binding target for species abundance for 2030, aiming to halt the decline of nature”. This ‘promise’ followed an apparently successful campaign for a “State of Nature” target to halt nature’s decline by 2030, which was supported by 70 organisations and over 180,000 people who signed an e-petition. Halting decline seems like a reasonable step to take, doesn’t it? We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, after all, but apparently that is imposing too many demands on business for Defra, which has slid an amendment into the Bill requiring the ‘slowing’ of decline instead. What does that mean? Slowing to half of what it is now? 99% of what it is now? 1% of what it is now? That doesn’t seem to be clear but ‘slowing’ is one of those ‘kicking the can into the long grass’ phrases, that are pretty much open to interpretation.

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