Category: Blog Posts

Operation Easter | Targetting egg thieves

While the number of egg thieves has dwindled away to almost nothing, the idiots who continue to raid nests have become extremely ‘professional’, obsessive to the point of compulsion, and can have a disproportionate impact by specifically targetting rare breeding birds – in some instances virtually removing an entire generation of rare or recently-established species by stealing their eggs. A s recently as May 2018 over 5,000 wild bird eggs were seized from a property in Norfolk belonging to a Daniel Lingham. The eggs were from 298 different species, including rare and declining birds such as Nightingales, Nightjars, and Turtle Doves. The RSPB’s Mark Thomas described Lingham at the time as a “one-man crime wave in terms of rare birds in Norfolk” whose actions had an “incredible impact on birds both regionally and nationally”. Helping stop egg thieves is something that we can all do though…

Continue reading

Big Garden Birdwatch – we’re losing our ‘common’ birds too

Lockdown, we’re told. has helped us appreciate our gardens. Stuck in our homes we have turned to staring longingly out of the window, grateful for glimpses of colour as birds like Greenfinches and Great Tits flit over our fences in a kaleidoscope of feathers…Will that last? It would be wonderful if the UK’s collective focus on the birds that do their best to survive alongside us had become permanent, because it’s not just farmland, upland, woodland and wetland birds that are in trouble – according to the results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch (BGBW), the more or less official national garden bird survey, so are our garden birds. But that is something that we can all help to turn around…

Continue reading

AXA | Insuring fox hunting

Fox hunts (and there are still hundreds operating across the UK despite the passing of the Hunting Act which banned the hunting of wild mammals with dogs almost twenty years ago) operate as businesses. Many (scandalously in our opinion) received grants to help them through lockdown – according to a report in The Independent in September last year, councils in England and Wales had by then already given hunts more than £160,000 of taxpayers’ money in grants intended to help businesses struggling during the pandemic – and those ‘businesses’ need to be insured. A recent series of posts by the campaign group Hunting Leaks has shown that insurance is being provided by AXA, a French-based multinational insurance group which reported gross revenues of €96.723 billion for 2020. Here in the UK Axa trades as Axa UK, with subsidiaries including Axa Insurance, Axa Wealth and Axa Health, and Swiftcover. We have no doubt at all that AXA and Swiftcover want to do the right thing. Many of us are offering to help them do exactly that. All they need to do is ask…

Continue reading

Petition | Protect Manx Mountain Hares

Mountain Hares, recently given limited protection in Scotland, were reintroduced onto the Isle of Man in the 1950s. They are apparently now confined to island’s northern hills and are not found in the south of the island, the central valley forming an apparently effective barrier. However the species is declining across most of its UK range, and determining the status of the island’s remaining hares has become a priority. Should the Manx government reclassify them from vermin (which they should never have been classified as in the first place) to ‘game’ (ie they can still be shot for entertainment) or ‘protected’ (animals classified as protected cannot be injured or killed under the island’s Wildlife Act)? Shooting lobbyists, including members of the Manx Parliament, would of course like to see these gentle creatures listed as ‘game’, but the Manx Wildlife Trust has said that would “not go far enough” and, that following their re-introduction in the 1950s, the Island now supports “a small but potentially vital population”.

Continue reading

Nada Farhoud | Daily Mirror’s Evironment Editor attacked online

“I’ve been called a liar, accused of being in the pocket of anti-bloodsport campaigners and not understanding the countryside because I live by the sea. And apparently I have an agenda because I like birdwatching.” The Daily Mirror’s Environment Editor Nada Farhoud describing the reaction from pro-shoot lobbyists to an article she wrote looking at moorland burning last week. As we and others predicted, shooting was bound to turn to the usual unfounded and personal attacks: she is a liar, townies don’t understand, she ‘just’ wants shooting banned, blah blah, blah. While Nada hasn’t gone into specific details it’s not difficult to speculate which other lines shooting’s attack dogs might also have crossed.

Continue reading

Snaring in the news again

Literally every week more examples of poor snaring practice are highlighted in the media. Two such examples have been highlighted across social media this weekend by the Hunt Investigation Team and Moorland Monitors. In the first, a badger was found trapped in a snare which was “wrapped around its neck”. In the second, a dog was caught on in a snare set on Access Land on Kinder – National Trust land in the infamous wildlife crime hotspot of the Peak District ‘national park’. Incidents like this are understandably always upsetting for the owners of companion animals, but let’s also acknowledge that the snare was set to do exactly what it did: trap an animal. Dogs and foxes are closely related. they share the same capacity for sentience, for fear, for feeling pain. Unlike a pet that is (under most circumstances) fed and looked after by an owner, a wild animal has no choice but to hunt to feed itself and its family though. Countless thousands of foxes are being trapped and are suffering in snares like this every week, drawn to the overabundance of prey that shoots ‘provide’.

Continue reading

Daily Mirror | Burning Britain’s moorland like ‘cutting down rainforest’

“Across the parched moors, now a tinderbox, all I can see is smoke.” That’s a line from an article published in the Daily Mirror which heavily criticises the routine torching of one of the UK’s most precious habitats simply so that a few people can blast living targets out of the sky. The article in the paper is well illustrated (while not all the images are connected with burning, they do all set the scene well) and actually reads like the personal experience it is, rather than the typical amalgam of press-releases re-written to produce a ‘balanced’ report that says little of interest. So kudos Nada Farhoud, the paper’s Environment Editor, for going on-site and seeing for herself the ecological and climate damage being wrought by the driven grouse shooting industry. The shooting industry will hate the article, and given the ferocity that lobbyists have been going after anyone who dares to question their version of ‘burning is conservation’ or ‘burning is best for the environment’, Nada’s inbox is no doubt being flooded with emails slamming her. And given the disgusting treatment meted out to Raptor Persecution UK’s Ruth Tingay by shooters defending their ludicrous pastime, no doubt those emails will contain some deeply unpleasant and offensive sentiments.

Continue reading

Podcast: Wild Animal Welfare Committee 2021 Conference Preview | Dr Pete Goddard

Back in early 2019 I attended a conference in Edinburgh organised by the charity Wild Animal Welfare Committee or WAWC which was discussing broad issues around the central theme of ‘Who are the Guardians of Wild Animal Welfare?’. I found their conference and the topics being discussed absolutely fascinating. Two years later – on April 19th – WAWC will be regrouping for another conference – this time, because of the pandemic, entirely online. I contacted WAWC and asked if we could do a preview podcast – both because I wanted to learn more about was planned and because it might hopefully inspire a few more registrations for what I am sure will be a really worthwhile day.

Continue reading