Search Results for: pesticides

Language Matters | Guest Post: Liv Cooper

“Our society has a deep-rooted, seldom recognised, and unfounded intolerance of wildlife being what it says on the tin – wild. This intolerance is an unobtrusive destroyer of biodiversity, with a secret weapon that allows it to take hold in our minds from a young age, which is, of course, language. We’re raised on words such as’ weed’,’ pest’ and ‘vermin’, all of which have strong connotations with dirty, unwanted plants and animals that are uncontrolled and offensive. These labels wield enormous power, being able to justify actions of the destruction of a species under a simple and dangerous concept, that “they’re not supposed to be here”. Even for nature-lovers and conservationists, it’s easy to be blinded by these labels, with a lower value put on certain species from the moment you learn of them, branded with worthlessness and blame. ” Guest post by Liv Cooper

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Language Matters | Birders and ‘gamebirds’

Anyone who launches a campaign (any campaign) can be fairly certain that a) not everyone will agree with the campaign’s aims, and b) will tell you that ‘insert whatever it is you’re campaigning about’ is a waste of time. Sure, not everyone cares about (in this case) our wildlife, preferring to shoot it or ignore it rather than protect it. They’re almost bound not to agree. But ‘a waste of time’? Trying to change something you fundamentally disagree with is never a waste of time. Besides, it gives me a chance to explain in 1000+ words exactly why I think that raising a debate about the use of ‘gamebird’ is not a waste of time at all. I will say it again, in this birder’s opinion the term ‘gamebird’ has absolutely no place in birding, or in birding magazines, or in identification books. We’ll need to campaign more directly to get it confined to the waiting dustbin of history, but in the meantime fellow birders, fellow writers, and fellow activists let’s just please pledge not to use it anymore.

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Metaldehyde to be banned to protect wildlife

In a rather rare bit of good news for wildlife, the government has announced its intention to ban the use of metaldehyde outdoors. Metaldehyde is the active ingredient in slug pellets, and is commonly used as a pesticide against slugs, snails, and other gastropods. As well as wiping out slugs and snails, metaldehyde is also toxic to terrestrial mammals and birds, and acute poisoning is common in pets, birds, domestic, and wild animals including hedgehogs. Hedgehog numbers in the UK have fallen by about 50% since the turn of the century, and while research suggests that the amount of metaldehyde a hedgehog would need to consume to be lethal would be very large, there have been cases of dead hedgehogs with very high levels of metaldehyde in their system (presumably consumed via prey items).

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UK Butterflies in decline

A worrying picture of declines in many UK butterfly species seems to have emerged after record numbers of people took part in Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, a nation-wide ‘citizen-science’ survey aimed at helping “assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see”. The ‘count’ took place in July and August, with nearly 150,000 observers making 15-minute counts of butterflies in parks, gardens, woods and nature reserves across the country. Despite the high number of observers the survey reported the lowest average number of butterflies per count – 10.66 – since recording began in 2010.

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Monarch Butterflies prefer pesticide-free milkweed

Monarch Butterflies, famed for their long-distance migration, depend on finding the only food their caterpillars feed on: the Milkweed, a wildflower of fields, wetlands, and prairies. Milkweeds are not only the foodplant of Monarch caterpillars, they protect them too. Chemicals within the plant are stored in the caterpillars strikingly bright body which make them distasteful to predators. Researchers have now concluded that Monarchs prefer their larval food to be pesticide-free. As a rhetorical question that asks the absolutely bleeding obvious, ‘Do butterflies prefer not to be poisoned?‘ should be right up there with ‘Is the Pope Catholic?’ and ‘Do bears cr*p in the woods?’…

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Another poisoning in North Yorks?

A sparrowhawk has been found in Ryedale (North Yorks), according to local press reports “convulsing and clenching its talons” symptoms which would indicate poisoning. The dying bird was found in woodland near Kirkbymoorside in Ryedale, taken for veterinary care, but died a short time later. A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “…we want to make the community aware so they can take precautions to keep pets, children and themselves safe.” Haven’t we heard warnings exactly like that from the same police force only recently? Indeed we have, and that would be because of the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’…

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Two spaniels poisoned by ‘Nidderdale cocktail’

This is what grouse shooting has brought us to: the burning of rare habitats, massive use of bird and mammal traps, illegal persecution of birds of prey, and now a spaniel killed by a mix of illegal poisons with its own nickname derived from the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the ‘Nidderdale Cocktail’, “a deadly mixture of chemicals including bendiocarb, alphachloralose and the banned pesticides carbofuran and isofenphos. None of these chemicals should ever be used in an environment where domestic animals and/or wildlife could come into contact with them.

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White-tailed Eagle found poisoned on grouse moor

Grouse moors and wildlife crime. As the song says, they go together like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other. Estates simply can’t help themselves. Perhaps though, this time, they’ve gone too far. It really shouldn’t matter whether they illegally kill a Buzzard, a Goshawk, a Hen Harrier, or a White-tailed Eagle of course – all are protected, all are important – but the White-tailed Eagle is different to many other birds of prey in one important way: it is a key component of Scotland’s eco-tourism economy. It has value.

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