Please note that as of October 2021 the War on Wildlife Project is no longer being updated

Badger Crowd | High Court Challenge

The Court of Appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice has awarded renowned ecologist and wildlife campaigner Tom Langton (with whom we’ve recorded a couple of very insightful podcasts over the last four years) permission to challenge an important aspect of the 2020 “Next Steps” Bovine TB eradication policy. Tom is a professional conservation ecologist with experience in wildlife justice, and has helped bring Natural England & Defra to account in tribunals & High Court trials over badger culling since 2017. Cruel, unnecessary badger killings will massively increase from now until 2026, with huge new cull areas. Already 140,000 badgers have been shot and this will now double to around 280,000. Following on from these culls, there is a little mentioned long term policy to expand the extermination of badgers locally with reactive-style culling of 100% of badgers. This will be happening in and around our woods, fields and nature areas, perhaps even close to where you live, with multiple side effects and implications. It just has to stop.

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Badgers | Shooting starts tonight

After a brief pause the quiet that settled over the countryside in spring is about to be shattered as the free-shooting of a protected species begins again. The pause in killing was presumably to allow badgers to have a breeding season, which is both deeply ironic and nauseating given that adults and young animals will be slaughtered in the coming months: Defra’s legally mandated nod to animal welfare for a few months does nothing to mitigate the massacre that is about to take place on their watch AGAIN. Pro-cull lobbyists often mock the feelings of pro-wildlife folk on social media. A particular favourite is to say this is about science not emotion. What a telling trope that is. The UK is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. We are disconnected from Nature and from wildlife. And all the time we are being told that data matters more than how we actually ‘feel’ about wildlife and the environment. Important decisions are of course based on data but when it comes to the mass killing of badgers it won’t matter whether massacring every single one of them helps ‘cure’ a disease that impacts an industry that we all know we could actually exist without – the fact is that it ‘feels’ abhorrent, it ‘feels’ totally wrong…

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Guest Post: Jane Smith | All Our Wild and Precious Lives

“Is there such a thing as wildlife? There’s definitely such thing as the Earth. There’s also such a thing as life on Earth. But doesn’t ‘wildlife’ imply an us-and-them situation? Are we ‘tamelife’? All of our human and pre-human ancestors came from the wild. But at what point did they stop being wild life, to become something else? Was it when we made fire? Was it when we started to speak with words? Was it when we started to own things? Our physical and spiritual connection to other species got very lost somewhere along the line. Nowadays, Nature is so often seen as a thing ‘out there’, with wildlife taken as ‘species out there’. It’s a separation mentality, and it’s not only unhelpful but it’s also untrue.” Guest post by Jane Smith, the UK’s first elected animal rights councillor.

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Scotland | Police Officer charged after raid uncovers ‘peregrine falcon eggs’

The case reported below is ongoing so it would be wrong to speculate on it specifically, but social media regularly claims that ‘corrupt’ police are attending illegal fox hunts, monitoring shoots, and behaving as interpreters of the law rather than enforcers of it. There is undoubtedly some bias against what some officers see as ‘left-wing antis’ (us pro-wildlife folk in other words) disturbing ‘traditional countryside pursuits’ (ie those killing wildlife), does that mean all officers are corrupt though? Of course not, and it’s worth noting here that it was officers that ‘swooped’ at dawn to arrest one of their own as part of “an ongoing investigation into allegations of serious organised crime”. It’ll be very interesting to see how this case develops when it gets to court, but the last thing one of the UK’s most targeted birds needs is the very people who should be upholding the laws protecting it being amongst those actually persecuting it…

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Guest Post: Shrewsbury | ‘The Road to Ruin’

Shropshire Council is planning to spend at least £87 million, plus an unlimited overspend, on a road through the unspoiled countryside near Shrewsbury. The council says that this will reduce congestion in the town centre and thus ‘improve Shrewsbury as a place in which to live, work and invest’. Better Shrewsbury Transport (BeST) is an alliance of local organisations and individuals that have a completely different vision: we are campaigning for urgent investment in active and sustainable modes of transport that are the only effective ways to reduce congestion, poor air quality and road deaths/injuries in the town whilst transforming all our lives for the better. In their campaign against the plan, BeST have now been joined by over 3,000 objections to Shropshire Council, objections from 2 climate change/zero carbon groups in Shropshire and Shrewsbury Town Council. Guest alert by Dorothy Harrison.

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Lead shot is poisoning Europe’s raptors

The shooting industry has been dragging its heels for years (and years) about replacing lead shot with something less environmentally toxic. Non-toxic alternatives like steel and bismuth exist but getting the industry (especially here in the UK) to acknowledge them is incredibly difficult (the alternatives are still fatal to whatever they shoot, but of course that seems to bother them even less than spraying tonnes of a neurotoxin into the environment every year). Now a new report “Lead contamination in tissues of large avian scavengers in south-central Europe”,by a coalition of conservation organisations has found that raptors are dying in huge numbers as well. So, not content with blasting vast numbers of birds out of the air deliberately, the shooting industry is also responsible for the deaths of huge numbers of waterfowl and rare, highly protected birds of prey that the EU is spending enormous amounts on to keep safe…

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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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