Category: Blog Posts

Quorn Hunt | Arrogant, utterly deluded, or both?

You know that lockdown thing that the vast majority of us have been so, so careful not to break – you know, because we don’t want to pass on a potentially deadly disease, because infection rates only come down if we accept that we’re all ‘in this together’, because it’s unquestionably the right thing to do, because very few of us think that the law doesn’t apply to us? Yes, that lockdown. Guess what…hunt masters at the ‘prestigious (though we would typically use ‘renowned’) Quorn Hunt appear to believe that absolutely none of that applies to them…How else to explain the utterly imbecilic behaviour of two of the Quorn’s hunt masters who got all dressed up to break lockdown and actually recorded themselves cheering on their hounds scrabbling around a foxhole or badger sett.

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Jumblebee | Raising funds for foxhunts

We’re back from annual leave and want to get back into the swing of things by highlighting a League Against Cruel Sports investigation of auction and fundraising site Jumblebee. We should say from the outset that there is no question here of Jumblebee engaging in any illegal activity, but the League’s interest has been piqued by discovering that eighteen fox hunts have held online auctions on Jumblebee’s website, raising more than £120,000. A separate auction for the International Hounds Show last year raised £83,000 for hunts around the world and the Masters of Foxhounds Association. This is a massive sum for a ‘community’ that does routinely break the law (and have been caught out again and again doing so) and which has been desperate to replace funds lost because of lockdown and the ban on meets.

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Brown Hares | Protection at last? We’ve been here before…

An article in a leading national newspaper suggests a “New move to ban shooting of hares in breeding season”. It goes on to say, “The nation’s deep affection for the hare, once a common sight in fields, is recorded in prose, pub names and poetry. Writers including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Ted Hughes have paid tribute to the UK’s fastest land mammal, while any English county will boast at least one pub with the word hare in its name. But now a failure to revive numbers after a century of decline from an estimated four million to under 800,000 has triggered moves to protect hares during their breeding season. Former agriculture minister George Eustice is introducing a private member’s bill that would make it illegal to shoot hares from February to September.” Good news, but before we celebrate too hard haven’t we been promised this before? Yes, we have. And the above quote is actually from an article in The Guardian dated 5th May 2019…

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Herald Scotland | The story of Tarras and a persecution that must be ended for good

“NOT again. Surely.” So starts an opinion piece by Mark Smith in the Herald Scotland on the death of Tarras, a young female harrier found dead last month. The Herald Scotland is the longest-running national newspaper in the world with a circulation just over 25,000. Not hugely-read in national media terms, perhaps, but look how far we’ve come. Rather than unquestioningly printing lobbyist denials and the usual guff about how shooting estates are actually ‘just like nature reserves’ and ‘no-one manages the countryside better than a gamekeeper’, the author concludes his first sentence with the lines: “You’ve probably already guessed what’s coming next, haven’t you? She had been hunting on or near grouse moors.” Yes, of course we’d all guessed. ‘Disappearing’ Hen Harriers and grouse moors are rarely NOT found in the same sentence. We’ve heard it so damn often that it’s expected now. Even national newspapers have made the link.

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Petition | Defend the right to protest

The government has published a new Policing Bill that threatens the fundamental rights of citizens and communities to have their voices heard by the powerful. It increases sentences and fines for protestors and makes it easier for the State to prosecute. The government is trying to rush this 307-page bill through without any time for MPs, their staff, or the communities that will be most impacted to understand its consequences. The creation of a new trespass offence targeted at Gypsies and Travellers will also restrict protest camps and deter access to the countryside. This bill would significantly restrict the kind of peaceful protest that was essential in communities resisting – and defeating – fracking. Note that deterring access to the countryside could also be used by the police to stop monitors and sabs protesting illegal fox hunting or the badger cull.

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Northumberland | Hen Harrier ‘disappears’ next to grouse moor

Another week, and yet another Hen Harrier has ‘gone missing’/’disappeared’/’been killed’ near the now-traditional sinkhole for ‘lost’ Hen Harriers: a grouse moor. Grouse moors, those inhospitable, largely barren grouse farms where traps outnumber native predators and birds of prey (protected by law for decades) are routinely killed by the ‘professionals’ who insist we take them seriously when it comes to the future of the uplands. This (according to Raptor Persecution UK) takes to fifty-two the number of Hen Harriers that have ‘disappeared’ in suspicious circumstances (ie ‘we know you did it, we just can’t prove it’) since 2018. Let that sink in: 52 Hen Harriers have been put down in three years. The latest, Tarras, a young satellite-tagged female less than a year old, spent her short life “hunting on [a] grouse moor and roosting either on it or just off of it” when her tag was silenced less than month ago.

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Ireland | Zero tolerance approach to hedge-cutting

We have never really appreciated hedgerows. Wildlife corridors, nesting areas, larders in the winter, refuges and places of safety, according to “Hedges’ by Pollard, Hooper and Moore, hedgerows were perhaps grubbed up or cut down at a rate of some 3,000 miles per year in the immediate post-war period (1946-63). The RSPB say that “since the Second World War, hedgerows have been removed at a much faster rate than they have been planted. In some parts of the country 50 per cent of hedgerows have gone, while others are so badly managed that their value to wildlife is much reduced”. The loss of managed hedges appears to have been halted by the 1997 Hedgerow Regulations Act. Nevertheless, as we have reported on this site many times, hedgerows are still being ‘de-natured’ by ‘tidying up’, extensive flailing or even being ‘netted’ by developers to prevent birds from nesting so they can avoid potential prosecution under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. The problem (as so often) is lack of enforcement – Unless, that is is, you live in Ireland, where (on the surface at least) protecting hedgerows seems to be taken far more seriously…

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BTO | Bird Trends 2020

The latest BirdTrends report from the BTO provides an early indication of one of the periodic revisions of the UK’s Red List (species with the highest conservation priority and needing urgent action) due to be published at the end of this year. Essentially, the report is a one-stop-shop for information about the population status of familiar breeding birds across the UK – a region already identified by a previous report as one of the most nature-depleted in the world. And it is very, very bad news indeed. Many of the highlighted species would once have not only been familiar to pre-war generations, they would have been everyday companions. Prior to the industrialisation of agriculture, their pastures would have been flower-rich meadows with massive insect communities providing seeds and protein for countless Cuckoos, Corn Buntings, Lapwings and Grey Partridges. Our woodlands, now often neglected with (in the absence of apex predators) unsustainable numbers of Roe Deer, were once composed mainly of native tree species and edged by scrub. They would have been bursting with Nightingales, Willow Tits and Spotted Flycatchers. Many of us now go all year without even seeing a single individual of any of them.

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