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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Equipment Fund – one month in…

So how – and what – have we been doing in the past month? As we wrote in the original post we are particularly respectful of confidentiality so won’t be saying which groups we’ve supported, but we can say that we have sent out kit to sixteen applicants so far, and that in terms of geographic spread that kit has gone to Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, the Peak District, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Cumbria, and southern Scotland. Thanks to our donors we have been able to provide six Guardian Body Cameras, two Badger Cages, several multi-packs of walkie-talkies, night vision monoculars, a Batbox Duet, and three Browning Trail Cams – as well as SD cards and batteries. The good news is that there is still money left to distribute, and we are still aiming to make everything as easy as possible for groups to access it.

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‘Undercover Trophy Hunter’ | Trophy Hunters lose the public vote – again

Putting my cards on the table, I have tried on many occasions to weigh up the ‘alternative’ viewpoint of trophy hunting as ‘conservation’. I can’t quite pull that off.. Yes, there is no doubt that Africa is a vast, vast continent. Many African countries do indeed have huge populations under the age of twenty. Clearly pressure on land – and wildlife – is intense. Some areas set aside for hunting undoubtedly also protect local biodiversity. And it is surely true that eco-tourism will never bring in enough revenue to support estates that in many cases are not set up for the demands of tourists or so far off the ‘beaten track’ that they will never have more than a handful of ‘bed stays’ a year. But whatever the ‘valid’ arguments, it is impossible to get past the fact that trophy hunters themselves are a disgusting bunch. They are a self-obsessed subset and palpably have zero interest in conservation beyond having more animals to kill. Permanently willy-waving, taking smug selfies to prove how ‘influential’ they are in the world of killing wildlife and determined never to be inconvenienced by the realities of public opinion, they swagger around the planet, drinking beer, and chucking the cans and blood and the guts our way whether we like it or not.

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Govt responds to snares petition

We’ve written about snares many times on this site (see – Hunt Investigation Team #SnareAware) and our opinion can be summed up fairly succinctly – get rid of them: they’re a weapon of the shooting industry, cruel, misused, and indiscriminate. The Codes of Practice governing snare use are often ignored. Which is not how the shooting lobby sees them or their use, of course. And while the government may be making many of the ‘right’ noises when it comes to animal welfare – banning live animal exports, looking hard at the fur industry, banning keeping primates – it has an absolute blind spot when it comes to killing wildlife for fun. Still, we campaigners don’t appear to be particularly concerned by the subject anyway. The petition – ‘Make the use of free-running snares illegal for trapping wildlife’ set up by Simon Wild of the National Anti-snaring Campaign – has attracted just over 14000 signatures as of today, a figure that is hardly likely to make Defra think again or worry the shooting industry in any way. But there is still time to move the petition along. It doesn’t close until November, so please have a look!

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