Tag: shooting

Botham declares war on the RSPB

The charmless ex-cricketer and now spokesperson for shooting ‘Beefy’ Botham (the nickname was apparently to do with his fighting physique when a professional player, but most of us now assume it refers to what’s between his ears) has stunned the world (not really) by announcing in the ‘irrelevant-out-here-in-the-real-world’ Daily Telegraph that the country’s shooting lobbyists, all of which sing roughly the same tune when it comes to blasting little birds out of the sky and destroying what they inaccurately refer to as ‘vermin’, are grouping together. Well, swipe me, we never saw that coming, what a masterstroke etc etc. Having been practically inseparable for years anyway, the lobbyists and the gamekeepers – presumably in the face of falling memberships – will be a mighty force (again, not really) loudly holding on to their anachronistic values of wildlife slaughter in the face of climate change, massive biodiversity loss, and a public that is realising just how important healthy ecosystems and nature actually are. It will be fascinating to watch this unholy alliance bickering amongst themselves as, for example, the CA says something so utterly stupid that even BASC can’t go along with it, or representatives of the Scottish Gamekeepers once again reveal their more thuggish and thoroughly unpleasant side on social media and threaten to drag the whole ship further onto the rocks. We’d feel sorry for them if – oh, strike that, there are no circumstances whatsoever where we wouldn’t enjoy watching this ‘alliance’ implode…Perhaps the most striking few lines of an otherwise forgettable and highly predictable run through of Beefy’s gripes is his declaration of war on the RSPB – a charity with more than a million members and (somewhat bewilderingly to many of us) a history of trying its damnedest to work with shooting. There could be any number of consequences of this ignorant attack. but here’s two to think about…

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Tree feller fined for destroying an active bird of prey nest

A ‘tree feller’ and a ‘bird of prey nest’. The headline from the Stroud News today tells just half the story, because the bird of prey in question was a Goshawk (one of the country’s rarest birds of prey – and a species loathed by shooting estates) and the ‘tree feller’ (or ‘agricultural labourer as he’s described in the report) took out just one tree in the wood, and that one tree contained the active nest. It’s hard to miss a large raptor’s nest (and female Goshawks are the same size as Buzzards). They are a massive pile of sticks, the ground below is spattered with ‘whitewash’, and Goshawks are noisy birds. Anyone from a tree feller to an agricultural labourer to a shooting estate manager will know damn well there is an active Goshawk pair in a woodland if they spend more than a few hours in the locale. It is inconceivable that just one tree could be cut down without the individual knowing that it contained an active nest. The RSPB Investigations Team clearly think so too, and are quoted saying in an exasperated tone, “It appears that this was the only tree in the wood to be felled and then completely removed at a time when it contained an active goshawk nest” adding that raptor persecution is a National Wildlife Crime priority and the Goshawk a priority species.

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Great news – it’s becoming too risky to buy a grouse moor

As the evidence has mounted up, as the wildlife crime, the climate issues, the deliberate targeting of predators, the wanton slaughter of grouse, and the campaigning has become impossible to ignore, the tide has turned against grouse shooting. Governments are looking at licencing estates. Land owning utilities and local councils are banning burning and looking for more environmentally-friendly ways to use moorland. Rewilding grouse moors so that they do public good and function as intact ecosystems, working for the climate rather than against it, looks increasingly viable. The upshot is that potential grouse moor owners are becoming more reluctant to invest in grouse farming. It’s always been difficult to make a profit from killing Red Grouse, but now buying a grouse moor is becoming risky too. Would-be owners simply don’t know what new laws might be brought in before they’ve been able to take money out of the moor. It could become harder to sell your ‘look at me’ asset in the future as well. Grouse shooting is buckling under the pressure…

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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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No, Woodcock and Snipe are NOT the same species

An odd thread appeared on Twitter over the weekend, which was started by Scottish campaigner Andy Paton but soon derailed by – well, it was hard to tell really…Andy had quite rightly pointed out that shooters were being asked not to go out killing endangered hard-weather movement birds like Woodcock and Common Snipe, because of – er, the hard-weather. Which makes huge sense if you’re actually interested in the conservation and protection of wild birds, but of course not so much if you’re a shooter and all that matters is the opportunity to blast a few half-starving birds out of the sky that have had the misfortune to arrive in the UK from regions to the north and to the east where the ground has frozen over meaning they can’t feed. The ‘odd’ part of the thread was the ‘contribution’ (which is being kind) from Phil ‘Beware the Woke’ Woods, who rashly decided he was the right person to teach Andy a lesson in ornithology, declaring in sneering terms that “Woodcock and snipe are the same bird and it is not endangered”. They’re not, and they are…Anyone can make a mistake, but why leap in like this…?

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A quick note to Alexander Armstrong

Now, we’re always aware at The War on Wildlife Project that we don’t have the authority to speak for any particular pro-wildlife side or group other than our own (though we have been around a lot of pro-wildlife folks for a very long time), but, ‘Xander’, you’re really missing the point. In our eyes, so-called ‘country sports’ is nothing more than killing birds and mammals that a great many of us cherish and love, and there is no difference at all between so-called ‘country sports’ and the ‘sportsmen’ who take part in it. You don’t get one without the other, do you? There is no separation here, ‘Xander’, so-called ‘country sports’ IS the people who shoot and hunt and maim and harm and kill. You are one and the same. We don’t know you, ‘Xander’, but you identify yourself as a shooter and we have seen statements like yours a thousand times, been ‘huntsplained’ to a thousand times, given that peculiarly patronising, supercilious down-the-nose look that says ‘Oh, poor you, you’ve never been shooting, have you’ a thousand times. We know what’s behind your question, ‘Xander’, and you don’t get to imply that we’re dishonest or insincere when we have been nothing but honest and sincere about our love of wildlife…

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Royal Patronages: Fit for the 21st Century?

A few days ago the National Anti Snaring Campaign released news of a Little Owl found dead in a fenn trap on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate. The trap had of course been laid by a gamekeeper to ‘protect’ pheasants – ‘protected’ until a royal shooting party wandered up and killed them of course. Much criticism was directed towards the Royals themselves. They have repeatedly been called out as hypocrites, purporting to be pro-conservation while being renowned for the huge number of birds of mammals they have shot or hunted on their various estates – Boxing Day still sees gatherings of royals of all sorts and all ages blowing birds out of the December skies – and on overseas trips. Prince Charles, president of the National Trust, notoriously called fox hunting ‘romantic’ in 2002 and was reportedly furious with Tony Blair for the Hunting Act. This isn’t an ‘anti-Royal’ rant incidentally (though it will be characterised as such): it’s much more a questioning of the ethical principles of charities that align with individuals connected so closely with – and so supportive of – shooting and hunting, royal or otherwise.

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Wildlife Slaughter | Lebanon/UK – any difference?

A team working for the Berlin-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have just uploaded a series of images from Lebanon. They show the massacre of migrating birds. Slaughter on a scale that few of us get to see firsthand. The reaction on social media is a mix of bewilderment, rage, frustration, shock…How can this be happening? How can men (it’s almost always young men) line up to blow these beautiful, evocative birds out of the sky like this? How can they show such indifference to the suffering and death? Why aren’t the authorities doing anything to stop it? Meanwhile, here in the UK…

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