Tag: defra

Consultation on extending the Ivory Act to other species

Defra have launched a public consultation which will potentially strengthen the UK’s Ivory Act, by extending protection to include all five CITES-listed ivory-bearing species (hippopotamus, narwhal, killer whale, sperm whale and walrus).rather than just elephants as now. Hippos are targeted by trophy hunters but they are also targeted for their ivory. Narwhals (there are thought to bne just 75,000 individuals left), walruses, sperm and killer whales are also hunted for their tusks and teeth. The ivory trade is a huge threat to ALL ivory bearing species, and the UK’s Ivory Act which will be enacted later this year could be one of the most comprehensive bans on ivory trade in the world.

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WCL | DEFRA fails to set target to halt decline of nature

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the government’s plans for the Environment now that we have left the EU and No10 is redrawing itself as wildlife-friendly. Last month, George Eustice, the current Environment Secretary promised a “Net Zero equivalent for nature” through a “legally binding target for species abundance for 2030, aiming to halt the decline of nature”. This ‘promise’ followed an apparently successful campaign for a “State of Nature” target to halt nature’s decline by 2030, which was supported by 70 organisations and over 180,000 people who signed an e-petition. Halting decline seems like a reasonable step to take, doesn’t it? We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, after all, but apparently that is imposing too many demands on business for Defra, which has slid an amendment into the Bill requiring the ‘slowing’ of decline instead. What does that mean? Slowing to half of what it is now? 99% of what it is now? 1% of what it is now? That doesn’t seem to be clear but ‘slowing’ is one of those ‘kicking the can into the long grass’ phrases, that are pretty much open to interpretation.

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Defra’s ministerial farming and shooting merry-go-round

The rumour mill suggests that George Eustice MP will not be running Defra for much longer, as Carrie Johnson apparently thinks that he is too close to the farming lobby (ironically he has received criticism for being too close and (from the NFU) for not being close enough), and is not taking sufficient action on animal welfare. Downing Street hasn’t commented yet, but surely, now, with even world leaders beginning to glimpse how the world might look with runaway climate change and public opinion more strongly against slaughtering protected animals than ever before, if Eustice were to be demoted he would be replaced with someone with genuine environmental credentials? You’d think, but the most likely candidate appears to be Chief Whip Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood, who has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change and in 2018 told a rural conference that “shooting should be proud of its contribution to the countryside and the environment. It is a positive story that deserves to be told” – this despite the widely reported wildlife crime underpinning shooting and its environmental impact (from lead shot to burning, flooding, and the release of over 50 million non-native birds every year).

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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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Badger Trust | Defra badger cull challenge response ‘meaningless’

“Once again we see a response with the same old platitudes and soundbites being rolled out. The vagueness is astounding, exposing what surely is a lack of a real plan, which in itself is unsurprising given that the badger cull to date has failed to deliver any robust results.” That’s Jo Bates-Keegan, Chair of Badger Trust, quoted in the charity’s latest press-release. No doubting there what she and the Badger Trust thinks about the Defra led ‘strategy’ to wipe out England’s badgers in a failed attempt to protect the dairy industry from a cattle disease. Hundreds of thousands of badgers dead, corpses of badgers thrown into sacks and dumped like trash, cattle still dying of Btb (before being sent to the slaughterhouse anyway), a former Farming Minister, George Eustice, seemingly wedded to the ‘slaughter and see’ approach, and far too many in the dairy industry refusing to properly address problems with biosecurity on farms or to embrace vaccination (ironically now seen as the best way out of another disease in the news lately)…

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