Most pheasants sold for food ‘contain lead shot’

“Almost all pheasants sold for food in the UK contain toxic lead shot, scientists have found.” The quote comes from the BBC News website which is reporting this morning that – as most of us suspected all along – the voluntary five year phasing out of lead shot by the rapacious shooting industry was – well, five years behind schedule. At least that’s the obvious concluson when “of 180 birds examined by the scientists, 179 were shot with lead”. So shooting has done nothing about lead shot. That won’t be a huge surprise to anyone, but does it matter if ‘food’ repeatedly advertised and sold as ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ contains lead shot (and do read Rob Sheldon’s tireless questioning of Sainsbury’s on this very subject)? Of course it does, because, as we and countless others have repeatedly said, lead is toxic in even tiny amounts.

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BOFF! THWACK! KAPOW! The Golden Eagle Satellite Tagging Group sorts out the SGA

In a typically thorough and measured Raptor Persecution UK post, Ruth Tingay discusses the ridiculous PE01750, a petition submitted by Alex Hogg on behalf of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee. Ruth describes how papers have been published on the ECCLR Committee’s website, including a formal response to the petition by the Golden Eagle Satellite Tag Group (GESTG), a research group established in Scotland by scientists as “a forum for data exchange, tagging coordination and general cooperation”. In her words the GESTG “takes apart the SGA’s petition pretty much line by line and eviscerates it “. Boy, do they ever…

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Hunting Office | No foxhunting before 29th March

The so-called Hunting Office (which ‘runs’ fox hunting out of its HQ in Cirencester, and which was burnt badly when webinars discussing how to use ‘smokescreens’ to avoid being caught hunting were leaked by the Hunt Saboteurs Association) has been quiet of late – presumably a combination of not wanting to mess up again now that one of its webinar guests is due in court for “intentionally encouraging or assisting others to commit an offence under the Hunting Act 2004”, and the welcome fact that hunting has been temporarily shut down during the current lockdown (something it inexplicably avoided last time around). However a 22nd February update on their website advises “registered hunts” that “hunting activities will not resume before 29th March.  We will keep all hunts updated regarding the evolving restrictions which will be in place after that date.”

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Lockdown: birding vs shooting?

An interesting debate is taking place on Twitter right now, discussing why it is that shooters are able to go out and kill birds during lockdown while birders (of all sorts from ‘I like to look at birds while I walk’ to ‘I want that Northen Mockingbird on my list and I want it now’) aren’t allowed to just go and look at them. We 100% agree that travelling hundreds of miles during lockdown to congregate somewhere just to see a rare bird is an undeniably stupid thing to do. We are birders ourselves (and used to twitch regularly) but there’s no excuse for breaking the law and risking spreading a dangerous virus like Covid-19 under any circumstances. But this isn’t about a handful of birders behaving irresponsibly. The larger and more pertinent question is surely this: why is there a seeming disparity between the way birders and shooters are treated? How do shooters (and fox hunters before them – they managed to circumvent the ‘Rule of Six’ back in the autumn remember) seem to usually get what they want (which with the best will in the world is simply to be allowed to kill even more wild animals)?

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(To the surprise of no-one) banned poison found on Leadhills Estate

To the surprise of almost no-one a large quantity of banned poison has been found on the Leadhills Estate, a South Lanarkshire shooting estate notorious for wildlife crime (though no doubt somewhere in the offices of the SGA they’ll be considering saying it was a plant). The poison was discovered by a League Against Cruel Sports investigator carrying out general field research in July last year on ‘Deadhills’ as it’s been dubbed (and anyone who’s visited this depressingly silent slab of grouse moor and wondered where the hell all the wildlife was, will understand why). Police Scotland has confirmed the poison was – again to the surprise of no-one – the ‘professional’s’ weapon of choice against birds of prey, a banned substance hazardous to humans and wildlife alike which is illegal to keep or use in the UK: Carbofuran. As we and countless others have pointed out, just a few grains of carbofuran sprinkled on to a rabbit corpse makes for an illegal but cheap and highly toxic bait.

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Hen Harrier | ‘Epic journey’ not the real story

A recent article in the Lancashire Telegraph – reprinted below – is interesting, and perhaps not for reasons that are immediately obvious. We already know that Hen Harriers regularly make the ‘epic journey’ across the Channel, for example, and we already know that the crossing is dangerous. No, what is particularly striking is that a journalist whose social media feed doesn’t ordinarily feature wildlife (that’s an observation, not a criticism in any way) is covering an RSPB press-release and taking ‘ownership’ of a bird on behalf of a county which the vast majority of its residents (if they’re typical of everywhere else) won’t have even heard of…Partisan or not, anything that encourages local residents to think about Bowland’s harriers as ‘theirs’ is a very welcome step forward. Hopefully it will encourage an interest in the birds and – having learned about them – a desire to protect them.

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Lead shot will finally be banned in wetlands

It’s about bloody time – but why has it taken so long? That would be because of foot-dragging, heels dug in, brains disengaged resistance by shooters who time and time again have refused to give an inch because as far as they’re concerned an inch may as well be a mile. There are lines these ‘conservationists’ (as they’re so fond of describing themselves) simply will not cross for fear of having to give up their guns and stop the killing. Such is the ‘they’re all out to get me’ paranoia amongst members of the so-called ‘shooting community’ that has stopped even sensible changes like not using lead shot being made (see our post from almost exactly a year ago for more details – Shooting and Lead Shot). That’s not quite how BirdLife International puts it in a press-release today of course, but we at The Wow Project would like to think that in their most frustrated (and perhaps most unguarded) moments, the good folk who actually have to confront this ignorant intransigence on a daily basis might just agree with the sentiments…

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Happy Second Birthday Wild Justice

Personally I find what might loosely be called ‘conservation’ to be disappointingly staid and risk-averse. So many decisions about how our countryside should be run are being determined by a handful of environmentally-damaging industries, and conservation doesn’t seem to know how to respond. The shooting industry, for example, has normalised killing on an enormous scale and has gone virtually unchallenged for far too long. Our larger, flatter-footed organisations are reactive, determinedly neutral even when they are being scavenged on by the likes of BASC (or indeed the NFU). It’s rare that something like Wild Justice comes along that is straight away so instantly appealing and that ‘feels’ like a new approach to old problems (rewilding is another, perhaps, which similarly seems to look at things differently and say, ‘There are better ways of doing this‘). Challenging bad wildlife and environmental law (which is what Wild Justice does, rather than, as those industries allege, take an oppositional stance just because they’re ‘antis’) is simple enough that it makes you think ‘How come that’s not been done before‘. But while Ruth Tingay, Mark Avery, and Chris Packham make what they do seem easy, it’s really not.

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