Biodiversity? The UK is losing it fast

We’re often told that we need positive messaging to turn the UK’s biodiversity crisis around. Talk about the good things rather than endlessly focussing on the bad. There are a few positives of course, like the 1026% increase in the Red Kite population between 1995-2014. Pine Martens are recovering and are being seen in counties right across England, Wales, and Scotland. We’ve far more Large Blue butterflies than half a century ago. But then again, Red Kites were almost persecuted to extinction here. Ditto the Pine Marten. The Large Blue was officially declared extinct in 1979. What we’re calling recoveries are numbers building up from almost zero. In the meantime…well, in the meantime a lot more of our wildlife is disappearing fast…

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North Yorkshire | Peregrine found shot at Selby Abbey

North Yorkshire. A region blighted with grouse shooting estates. A region on its way to becoming synonymous with wildlife crime. Even the local newspapers recognise the appalling record for raptor persecution of this part of the UK: In July last year the Yorkshire Post printed a list of SIXTEEN raptor persecution incidents from just January 2018 to July 2020 under the heading ‘North Yorkshire – a black hole for raptors‘. In October of the same year the Post quoted a frustrated Guy Shorrock, a senior and highly-respected member of the RSPB’s Investigations Team, saying that “North Yorkshire sadly has a diabolical reputation for the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of birds of prey. I have been picking up the bodies of raptors for nearly 30 years, and in the current ecological emergency, this cannot continue. Our wildlife needs better protection.” Our wildlife needs better protection. But as yet another bird of prey dies in North Yorkshire, just how convinced are campaigners and activists that anything will change anytime soon? Not convinced at all.

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Petition | Mini’s Law (Public and Animal Safety Bill 2021)

Kudos to Keep The Ban for pushing this campaign so hard. Hunts have been illegally killing foxes for years, but they are also responsible for animals swept up by hounds as collateral (particularly in residential areas where hunts and hounds regularly cause absolute chaos). We’ve reported on a number of incidents on this site (see – ‘Out of Control’ | Another pet killed by hunt hounds and ‘Out of Control’ | Another pet killed by hunt hounds for recent examples), and now a law is being proposed that would prohibit any activity involving hunting hounds, such as so-called ‘trail hunts’ and hound exercise, taking place in a residential area or in any other public place. Hunts are likely to ignore any new law just as they ignore the Hunting Act, but at least the next time an incident occurs there could be legislation under which the hunt involved could be charged.

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As two more Hen Harriers ‘disappear’ it’s time to roar not whisper

So, Cumbria Police are appealing for information following the disappearance of two male Hen Harriers, in what is typically described as ‘suspicious circumstances’, from the RSPB’s reserve at Geltsdale. Two more highly protected birds that the RSPB, the RSPB’s members, and birders everywhere cherish and thrill to. It’s become common to describe wildlife crime as ‘underpinning’ the operation of grouse moors, but as these two Hen Harriers – both male, both apparently provisioning nests on the Geltsdale reserve – ‘disappear’ maybe it’s time we started to say that wildlife crime is actually the scaffolding that keeps the whole dodgy edifice from falling over. Shoot operators can not make the vast profits from farming grouse that they want if there are birds of prey on the farm too: and rather than obey the law, admit that other species have a right to survive in the uplands, birds of prey are (in far too many cases) simply eradicated. Our NGOs must drop the ‘neutrality’, the studied politeness, and understand that while the opposition in the corner might look fierce, there are millions of us out here who will get in the ring and fight like tigers alongside them – but only if and when it looks like there is fight in them too.

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West Midlands Hunt Saboteurs Drone Appeal

The – er, somewhat robust language used in the following appeal may not be to everyone’s taste. but frankly illegal foxhunting is enough to make even a nun look to the skies and utter the odd curse word, so we’re just going to copy and paste the appeal and let you good folk out there decide for yourselves whether the Warwickshire Hunt are a bunch of ********* or not…whatever the case, however, monitoring hunts from the air as they try to create a smokescreen on the ground is without a doubt a great way to keep an eye on them. And if they’re doing nothing wrong then – great – the evidence is there for all to see as well…

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Guest Post | Clive Swinsco: Badgers – Defend Brock’s Clan

“Badgers are innocent! Unfortunately, however, their jury have been bribed and their judges are corrupt; therefore the mass execution of badgers continues. Political? Of course it’s political! Bloodsports are the ruling class “at play” and property development is one way the rich increase their wealth – Badgers are problematic “on both counts.” In spring 2020 (Vol. 38 No5) BBC Wildlife magazine published the article “Badgers – Out of the Woods?”…I responded in May – my letter was never published. There can be no doubt that the continued “official” killing of badgers by this government has given a killers/baiters “charter” to every sadist, hunter, ignorant farmer or mindless thug in the country; a carte blanche to persecute and kill any badger anywhere It’s what happens when you treat a species with abject contempt and cruelty ‘Out of the woods’? Certainly not. Not by a long way.” Guest post by Clive Swinsco

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Conservatives – the party for animal welfare?

Tens of thousands of words will be written in the coming weeks about the Queen’s Speech (QS, which of course is not written by the Queen but by a team of government advisors) and its ramifications for animals. All animals from wild, farmed, companion, and captive. Trapped and hunted. Imported and exported. And no matter who you vote for there were undeniably some very good elements to it. Is this a genuine step-change in how we treat animals? Some of the suggested measures should be easy enough to get through (the ‘primates as pets’ lobby can’t be very large and outside of a few restaurant owners who in their right mind would fight a ban on the import of shark fins or the sale of foie gras) but movement on snares (which shooting is almost addicted to), the badger cull, lead shot, and enforcing legislation on sentience will be far harder. If we keep the pressure up who can tell, but right now – despite some good words in their Action Plan – the jury is surely still out…

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English Heritage, Trophy Hunting and Muntjacs

Trophy hunting. Whether you support it or not (and there are nuanced arguments to be had about land use and a local community’s ‘rights’ to exploit what they see as natural resources – or what the rest of us call sentient beings), at least it doesn’t take place here, in England, in the ‘nation of animal lovers’ as George Eustice, who as Defra’s Farming has always supported the slaughter of badgers for the dairy industry, said after the Queen’s Speech. Only of course it does. It perhaps first really came to people’s attention when notorious ‘hunter’ (‘hunter’ as in walks up to animals and shoots them) Larysa Switlyk flew into the UK from Florida in 2018, went off to Islay (a stunningly beautiful part of the world), gunned down some tame goats, and bragged about it on social media. And now thanks to Bedfordshire Against Trophy Hunting’s expose of English Heritage, we have yet another example of the gurning, smirking ‘hunter’ that so many of just really, really dislike…

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