Posts Tagged ‘badger cull’

Uplands, raptors, badgers, campaign updates and Short-winged Coneheads.

August 26, 2016

Last Friday at Rutland Water listening to inspirational campaigners and naturalists.  Today back on the moors.

160826 S&C Moors hrk 347 web

The first bird of the day was a Hobby, a fantastic little falcon who breed here and then depart for their winter quarters in Africa in September.  We were fortunate with perhaps four birds seen including a juvenile.  They are aerial masters and easily take sizable dragonflies on the wing and can be seen eating their catch in the air or from a perch.  Marsh Harriers and Buzzards were the other raptors seen.

Waders were evident with Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, Snipe in good numbers as well as Lapwing on the exposed margins of pools.

The intriguing observation of the day was of a female Short-winged Conehead, spotted on the car window as I crawled along Limestone Road – where had it heralded from?  The curved sickle shaped ovipositor a good identification indicator and distinguishes it from C. discolor (Long-winged Conehead).  Records of this species are uncommon in Yorkshire but understood to be increasing although there is no mention on the YNU website of any occurrence on Thorne Moors.

SWConehead MW 160826 webConocephalus dorsalis: Image courtesy of Martin Warne.

CONSERVATION CAMPAIGN UPDATES

Readers having signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting are asked to follow this up by contacting their MPs about the possible Parliamentary debate on the issue.  Obviously bespoke letters are best but for useful pointers and guidance see Mark Avery’s ‘Firm Briefings’

Raptors, Uplands & Peatlands – Conservation, Land Management & Issues

Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September 2016: Sheffield. 

For more information see here

 

Another equally controversial topic is that of the ongoing Badger Cull which is to be rolled out to other areas.  One of the excellent but equally frustrating talks at last week’s Birdfair was that given by Dominic Dyer, Chief Executive of the Badger Trust.  This small but incredibly energetic organisation has led the campaign opposed to the unscientific Badger Cull.  Badgered to Death is a compelling read, but it is also a horror story in so much as it provides a critique of failure by Government to address the real causes of the bTB outbreaks.  Bad enough that Badgers are illegally baited against dogs, that they are now demonised by Government who have discarded their own scientific evidence and ignored their own veterinary advisers for what?  Slaughtering badgers in a cruel, inhumane and astonishingly expensive way has failed to address the spread of the disease, failed to help farmers combat the disease of cattle, that is to say bovine Tuberculosis.

Any blog reader with an interest in the Badger Cull / bTB issue is recommended to read Dyer’s critique of the sorry saga as it contains much useful background and brings focus to failure to underpin policy with evidence.

B2D

A reminder too that Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands is now available in paperback and has an additional chapter providing an update to the campaign to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting’s progress.

Back to Badgering : is £16m+ value for money?

September 19, 2015

Wednesday’s blog post talked of the newfangled thing called science (pers comm. CP).  Clearly the defra agencies and their Minister are not yet conversant with this evidence based approach?

Natural England have approved a cull licence in Dorset in addition to those already running for West Gloucestershire and West Somerset.  Apparently the applications were approved as the applications fulfilled all the criteria.  Natural England’s website appears to confirm that sufficient funds are in place to complete control operations, so does that means that no public funds will be spent on the continued culling in the two existing areas and the new Dorset licence area?  The ‘exercise’ thus far we understand is in the order of £16,777,000 which equates to around £6,775 per badger according to the Badger Trust.

In 2013 NE over ruled its own adviser to grant a licence to extend the Gloucestershire badger cull.  Four of nine NE Board members expressed severe reservations, particularly on the pivotal advice of the government’s chief veterinary officer (CVO) Nigel Gibbens. Wood said that advice was “the key” to the decision to extend.

During the meeting (23 October 2013), the minutes of which were obtained by the Guardian, Prof. MacDonald (NE ‘expert’ advice) said: “The CVO’s advice that killing further badgers would lead to better disease control is not easily reconciled with the evidence.” He added it was “hard to understand” how further trials could be licensed following the failure of the initial culls. Other board members agreed that the extension was likely to increase TB infections in cattle, with one noting “independent advice should have been sought”. The minutes record discussion of “the fact that it was difficult to predict what the disease control benefits would be”. In the end, the board voted narrowly to allow Wood to make the decision.

Readers may further recall that …. “If, as the former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson stated in 2013, the badger cull is rolled out to over 40 areas of England the costs to the tax payer could easily exceed half a billion pounds.”  How then, with the state of the nation’s finance as it is, can this be justified?  No reasonable person lacks sympathies or understanding for the stress and problems faced by herds which are infected with bTB, but why is the English Government so incalcitrant when it comes to evidence based approach?

We read that farmers need to take consumers with them, they need to engage with the public about where food comes from so that they better understand the issues.  How is a conservationist to enjoy Somerset Brie when they know that badgers have been inhumanely slaughtered as part of the ‘production process’ of getting the product onto their plate?  Visit the news page of Stop the cull to see more detail of the issue.  Each of us effectively votes through our purse, across a wide range of ethical and moral issues and supermarkets are very sensitive to market share.

Fast forward two years, Natural England’s web page on GOV.UK clearly states that sufficient funds are in place to complete control operations.  We might read into that that the farmers, landowners or shooters will be funding the operation?  Conversely we might wonder if defra (or other department) through one of its agencies might have made available the next tranche of cash?

The Badger Trust’s recent press release in part here verbatim: “The Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers.

“The public has a right to be outraged not only by the appalling waste of badgers’ lives but also the disgraceful squandering of tens of millions of pounds on a policy that will have no measureable impact on reducing bovine TB. If famers are worried about badgers then vaccinating them is not just more effective and humane, it’s also ten times cheaper than culling.”

We are reminded of Prof. John Bourne’s comment when he was the Chair of the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) on bovine TB.  Watch his informative presentation at the Badger Trust’s AGM Seminar 2015.

“I think the most interesting observation was made to me by a senior politician who said, we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers”.

PENTAX Image

Badgers suffer needlessly, are subject of digging, baiting and dog fighting and as if that isn’t enough they appear to be a particular target for the current Government and Natural England?

Greenblobpride

‘Moor’ campaigning?

January 14, 2015

Wow, who’d have thought when we started this blog that we’d pass the 10,000 views milestone?  Well amidst the recent hiaitus we did – thank you readers.  Today’s posts are a bit of a catch up of comings and goings and in the main linked to concern for the natural environment and wildlife.

Readers will have noticed that the Government released the results of the badger culls just before Christmas and it seems that the culls are scheduled to continue this coming year despite another season of failed and realigned targets dressed up by Ms Truss the Defra Minister for Environment Food and Rural Affairs when the Report was made public. The Yorkshire Post ran the headline (in the weekend farming section) Calls to extend culls after latest pilot hailed as a success.  Around the same time the Farmers Guardian reported on a failed appeal by a farmer found guilty of falsification of the results of a bTB test.   

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Of other persecuted wildlife, the Hen Harrier controversy continues.  Mark Avery in his Standing up for nature blog reports on the Mutch case.  The RSPB video  posted on another media site is sickening and one wonders if slowly there is a change in the attitude of the law around wildlife crime? It is to be hoped that it does not turn out to be like the MPs sorting their own expense scandal out?

Sightings of Hen Harrier on Thorne and Hatfield Moors appear to be down this winter but the Blacktoft roost is still attracting a handful amidst the good numbers of Marsh Harriers. One observer in neighbouring Lincolnshire commented of a coastal site “Having completed the winter roost surveys since 1982/3 this is the poorest year of any for Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl”.

Readers might also be interested (but dissappointed if you’ve not secured tickets because I see that it is sold out) in the forthcoming Eyes in the Field Conference being organised by Birders Against Wildlife Crime on 21 March 2015 in Buxton Derbyshire.  It is essential that we collectively continue to keep the issue in the public arena and the profile high, only then is there any chance of change.  Patrick Barkham (author of Butterfly Isles) writes in the Guardian of The mystery of the missing Hen Harriers.  The entrenched attitude of some has forced people like Avery to adopt a high profile stance by creating a GOV.UK epetition Ban driven grouse shooting.  

Greenblobpride

Another recent issue, well perhaps it would be better described as recently reported, are the stink pits full of Mountain Hares reported killed because of the need to eradicate disease which threatens bags of Red Grouse.  Readers might like to consider supporting another epetition Protect the Mountain Hare?

At least the Tawny Owls are still contentedly calling despite the cold winds outside as I sign off on another post.

Government attempt to bury badger bad news over Christmas

December 18, 2014

Government attempt to bury badger bad news over Christmas

The Government today has released the results of the 2014 badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

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In a clear attempt to bury bad news over Christmas, the report paints a picture of a disastrous policy which has clearly failed on scientific, economic and humaneness grounds.

Although 341 badgers were killed in Somerset which met the minimum target figure, the target has been criticised as “rubbish” and “unbelievably easy” by a leading expert. Only 274 were killed in Gloucestershire from a minimum target of 615.

Commenting on the publication of the report Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust and Policy Advisor at Care for the Wild said:

“Despite spending millions of pounds of tax payers money the DEFRA Chief Veterinary Officer admits for the first time today that the badger cull is failing.

Despite the many recommendations of the Independent Expert Panel from 2013, the standards of training and competence of the cull contractors continues to fall short, badger cull targets have not been met in Gloucestershire and many badgers have taken up to 5 minutes to suffer long painful deaths.

A recent MORI poll showed that badger culling was the fifth most common issue of complaint to MPs in the last 12 months.

This was backed up by a ComRes poll from the Badger Trust and Care for the Wild that shows 9 out of 10 people believe badger culling is cruel and should stop in favour of cattle based measures to reduce the spread of bovine TB.

It’s now time for the Government to admit it has got it wrong and bring an end to this disastrous cruel policy once and for all.

It should now follow the example of Wales and introduce annual TB testing for cattle combined with tighter bio security and cattle control movements, with compliance linked to CAP single payments for farmers. This policy has delivered a 48% drop in the number of cattle slaughtered for TB in Wales in the last 5 years without killing any badgers at all.

Courtesy of a recent Badger Trust press release.

A recent article in the Guardian newspaper by Steve Backshall is certainly worth a read as it calls for the cattle TB vaccination being tested in Ethiopia to be brought to the UK for field trials as soon as possible.

The fact that the European commission has put in place a 10-year timetable for its approved use in relation to meat and dairy exports to the EU has the potential to cause disquiet amongst those with strong opinions of UK membership of the EU?

Despite poor results Liz Truss is determined to keep culling!  Read the report Bovine TB: summary of badger control monitoring during 2014

At what point, one might ask should Ministers be accountable for failing to deliver as well as the exceptional costs in terms of funding the failure in times of austerity measures?

So, it seems that the comedy of errors is to be compounded with “carry on regardless” approach to “the greenest Government (n)ever” evidence based policies?

Greenblobpride

Defra …. fit for purpose following recent revised (again) bTB data?

September 14, 2014

Defra have recently released

Revisions to bovine TB statistics – September 2014

This two page document, is certainly worth scrutinising and makes quite astonishing reading with errors in Government reporting ranging from 27% to 233%.  Civil servants and Ministers might be tempted to blame IT systems but surely, ultimately it is they who were responsible for ensuring that at the start of the programme everything should have been beyond question and fit for purpose to evidence, openly and transparently, demonstrate robust methodology and professional delivery through humane practice with quality assurance in terms of reporting outcomes and outputs?  I suppose the words “should have” are sadly no longer applicable to Government Departments which are an inconvenience to the “higher politics” of political agendas influenced by industry advocates?

This is the most recent revision, released very quitely and something which appears to be an ongoing trend and something which raises the issue of a Government agency ability to provide accurate figures.  Perhaps this inability to accurately record data is one of the reasons that the new Minister Liz Truss has not reinstated the Independent Expert Panel?  No there is clear need for independence then one might reasonably expect their recall?

We can offer no better analysis that that provided by Miles King on his excellent blog posted today which concludes:

  • We obviously cannot believe anything Defra statistics say about the extent of Bovine TB breakdowns, or the trend in breakdowns.
  • Defra are trying to cover up their monumental statistical cock-up.
  • The very data used to justify the Badger Cull is so badly flawed that Natural England must reconsider whether the Cull can be allowed, given the rules that determine its legality.

One might wonder if a critical mass of correspondence were to make its way to Ministers and indeed local MPs on environmental issues then we might collectively bring about reform?

To that end I have written through my constituency MP to the Minister Liz Truss, I will keep you posted on any replies received.  If all readers were to do similar then perhaps …. just perhaps as a General Elections looms?

Thus far an expenditure of around £7.29m for just two areas and what has it achieved so far, flawed data, inhumane practice ….

The Wildlife Trusts and others are calling for more work to be done on vaccination programmes and the public have got behind that approach and made substantive donations to appeals.  Badger Vaccination Report 2011 – 13 clearly demonstrates an effective option which good science and logic would reason ought to be part of the tool kit operated to effect resolution of this problem?

Badger & mayweed

I recently tried to locate a copy of the 1997 Kreb’s Report , “Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers” via the Defra website only to learn that the full report was not available.  An executive summary page was available.  A sceptic might be forgiven for wondering why Defra would no longer wish to make that document publically available?  Their website does indicate that a full report is available in the Defra library, it does not indicate how one would obtain a copy!

Not to be deterred, Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers Report to the Rt Hon Dr Jack Cunningham MP  (1997) can still be located with persistence.

There is an epetition calling upon Liz Truss – call an immediate end to the badger cull, which readers might like to consider signing after they’ve penned some ‘poetic prose’ perhaps to their parliamentary representatives?  I suspect that sadly this petition may (no pun intended) go the same way as did Sir Brian’s, but that should not stop us campaigning?

Finally for this post …. to add the heartening news that the Badger Trust have been successful in their application to the High Court to appeal the Administrative Court decsion that the Minister Liz Truss and Natural England acted lawfully and that legitimate expectation was not binding upon the Minister or NE.

Culling resumes …. ‘Hibernation’ as Autumn arrives?

September 8, 2014

There is still plenty to be seen and heard out there as the Autumn weather brings change.  This handsome beast, they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so ….

Deilephila elpenor (L.) 69.016 (ex 1991)

Deilephila elpenor (L.) 69.016 (ex 1991) Elephant Hawkmoth

This particular specimen, found on one of its foodplants Greater Willowherb was somewhat lethargic and appeared about ready to fall to the ground where it would pupate amongst plant debris on or just below the surface and spend the winter.   Assuming it does not fall prey to foraging mammals

Another species easily found at this time of year is Metellina segmentata, it is a common species as can be seen from the distribution map via the British Arachnalogical Society Recording Scheme website.

140905 T M segmentata SH 0148 - Copy

Arachnid image above courtesy of Steve Hiner.

 

BADGER CULL STARTS AGAIN …. 

Unfortunately we have received the sad news that the Government is proceeding with the badger cull and we have learnt that tonight the unmonitored killing will start up again in West Gloucestershire and West Somerset.

In the sights of ‘marksmen’ tonight are some 931 (minimum) 1876 (maximum) badgers.  615 in Gloucestershire and 316 in Somerset or 1,091 in Gloucestershire and 785 in Somerset.  See Natural England’s authorisation letters for detail.  Needless to say they are redacted versions.

The topic remains a topical one, unsurprisingly and The Guardian has created a ‘badger’ page dedicated to the topic, the most recent piece by Damien Carrington has already attracted over 300 comments in just three days.  Interestingly this event is a ‘private event’, see the Glouchestershire Echo.  It is worth a read to discover the Police stance on this year’s event/culls.

The same article reports that the cull cost the public pocket £2,338,248 last year, a sum which was reimbursed to the force afterwards.  Is this figure the national bill or just West Glouchestershire?  There are also figures estimating that each badger culled last year cost £5,000 and the cost is set to rise this year.

No one could fail to have sympathies with farmers over the issue but is culling badgers in the barbaric manner of last year a way to get support from the British public at a time when they need loyal customers?  Will we still want to buy regional cheeses when we see the images from the area where the NFU and its members have held a private event and culled badgers?

There has to be a better way, Government has to listen?  Science has to prevail surely …. credibility is at stake if there is no monitoring?

See STOP THE CULL, where Perturbation and the consequences for the disease to spread as a consequence of this are explained.

 

Badger the Backbench Business Committee?

March 10, 2014

Here we go again, badger is back on the ‘Greenest Government ever’ menu ….

Badger & mayweed

The Badger Trust have issued a briefing note ahead of the Parliamentary Backbench Business Committee debate scheduled for Thursday 13 March, and if you are interested in the issue then it is certainly worth a read.  It is well researched and referenced and makes pretty astonishing reading in places, to quote cold

The high cost of culling makes a mockery of claims most recently made by Agriculture Minister George Eustice in a letter to Angela Smith MP dated 7th January 2014, that “It [culling by controlled shooting] will also be far less costly [than vaccinating badgers], with badger vaccination costing £662 per badger or £3900 per square km in Wales in 2012”. 

The briefing note does say that costs have yet to be published, but it reports that the estimated cost of the cull has worked out at around £7m which equates to about £4,000 per badgerAs soon as we learn of actual costs then we will let you know.

The Badger Trust have asked people to contact their MPs and to send a copy of the briefing immediately asking them to read it and attend the debate on Thursday to vote against any further badger culling.

In case you’ve not already done so, then readers might consider signing the latest epetition on the Direct.Gov.UK website “Stop the cull NOW”  It may be, and call me a sceptic (although I’d prefer realist) but the pro-cull lobby will hope that the issue will fall off the radar, but the BBC debate needs to know that people are following up the signing of Brian May’s epetition with more pressure for science based evidence.

A few other reports worth reading

 BBC accepts it was wrong to state that badger culling in Republic Ireland reduced TB in cattleTo avoid confusion BBC is the Parliamentary Back Bench Committee, not a television company!

Charity Findings cocur with IEP Report.

Culling inhumane and ineffective.

NFU Conference Commentary.  This is a quite astonishing read.  Setting aside PR and media politics, fundamentally the facts have to be accurate or surely the NFU would litigate such potential libel?

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h 

Poor old ‘brock’ …. villan or scapegoat?

Image Tim Melling

We appreciate and recognise that the issue of badgers and bTB is an extremely emmotive subject, family farms can be devastated and lives ruined.   It seems that science is often neglected when debates become polarised, but why will the Government (past, present and probably future) not listen to evidence based science, why have they failed to begin vaccination programmes of both badgers and cattle (ok the EU complicates the issue in terms of cattle vaccinations), there has to be a way, to collectively and collaboratively address and resolve this issue.  This disease has been around since the 1970s, surely it is not beyond the whit of man to find a sensible solution?

Please, if you decide to contact your MP please let us know the response you receive, via execsec@thmcf.org

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‘moor’ badgering …. conservation campaigning epetitions ….

February 27, 2014

Well done to John Armitage who has secured sufficient signatures to ensure that he receives a response to his call for Licensing of upland grouse moorsMark Avery did an excellent analysis of his achievement in terms of conservationists lobbying Defra.

South Yorkshire Badger Group have recently alerted us to three other epetitions readers might consider signing.  Under new rules Local Authorities run their own petition schemes and as with central Government, Local Councils are obliged to debate the issue.  So, the petition(s) requests the three councils below to declare that they will not allow badgers to be culled on council land, and instead will agree to badger vaccination. This has the potential to seriously affect  the Government’s cull policy, and to emphasise further the degree of anti-cull feeling.

Badger & mayweedBadger by Tatterdemalion.   Image courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons license.

Doncaster MBC’s  epetition ends 3 April 2014, so anyone living within the LA area please consider signing and spreading the word.  30 signatures so far.

Barnsley MBC’s epetition has until 31 May 2014 to run, so same comment applies to this LA area residents who read the blog.  44 supporters thus far.

Rotherham MBC epetition runs until 17 May 2014, their website informs us that if this petition reaches 9 signatures an officer will investigate the matter, so well done Rotherham MBC … we look forward to learning of the outcome, in the interim I’m sure there are more than 9 people living in the Rotherham area who care about badgers?  19 have already given their support.

So, collectively can we send a clear message to these Local Authorities about how local tax payers and voters feel about wildlife?

Sheffield City Council get a Gold Star because without any prompting the council has already declared they will not allow badger culling on public land.

As yet I’ve not managed to locate how many ‘signatures’ are required to cause two of the Councils above to debate the petition, but I hope you’ll agree that given the short window left it’s important to get the message out there.  I’m sure someone will locate the threshold requirement and let me know.

 

Signs of winter.

December 5, 2013

WILDLIFE

Winter is with us?  The herds of winter swans graze the low lying fields on the periphery of Hatfield Moors.  Amongst the Mute and Whoopers, moderate numbers of Bewick’s can be found.  At the moment there are in excess of a 100 Whoopers and amongst them a handful of Bewick’s present in an area known locally as Alderfen, on the eastern edge of Hatfield Moors.  See here for a more detailed account of numbers.

Whooper Swan herd 0097_lowrespcr

Other signs of winter aside from the obvious shortening of daylight hours and increased visitors to garden birds tables are the geometrid moths fluttering across the tracks alongside  Hatfield Chase drains where hedgerows and trees are still extant as field boundaries.

BADGER UPDATE 

I mentioned in a recent post that Natural England had revoked the licence to cull badgers, but all the signs are that there is still intent to reconvene and revisit the killing fields.  So, can I ask readers to spare a thought for the ongoing ‘battle for the badgers’?  I am prompted to raise the matter again, in part, because I recently received a link to watch a u-tube upload of Bill Oddie  and Simon King at the recent Bristol badger march.  Bill’s was well, just what you’d expect from good old Bill, Simon’s erudite and eloquent but between them they pretty much summed up the situation.

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Further to the videos might you consider ‘badgering your MPs’ if you’ve not already done so, would you ask them to sign EDM 661 ?  Interestingly it is sponsored by MPs from four parties!  Congratulations, does that means that common sense does exist in ‘the House’?  Conservation does not have to be party political …. it is good for all aspects of society, everyone benefits from a health environment and we are but one species in the mix that inhabits the planet.

WILDLIFE MP of 2013?

Mark Avery has posted an interesting survey on his excellent blog Standing up for Nature”, he asks readers to vote for the Wildlife MP of 2013, there are quite a number of comments and some quite interesting ones.  He has nominated six, and whilst these might be subjective choices they do make you think about what MPs do actually deliver for the environment, and surely that can only be good?

epetitions & badger culls

September 6, 2013

CONGRATULATIONS and thanks to all those involved with the HM Government epetition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38257

The window of opportunity is fading rapidly to add to the 302,924 signatures as the deadline is 07:38 tomorrow morning, but you can still do it ….

It may be that it achieved this excellent level of support because it was fronted by Dr Brian May CBE.  Nevertheless, it remains a fact, people rallied – bring on the public debate, prove this country is a democracy ….

That’s the first stage in drawing it to Government attention, have the other side had that kind of support for the cull?  Will we see democracy in action?  Will we see any science brought forth by those supporting and advocating the continued roll out of this ConDem cull?

 

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By Andrew Gray (local userpage) (p1140372) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

I hope that the discussion in parliament is televised, it’s one debate that I would like a ring side seat to watch.  Will whips be applied?

So, are epetitions effective?  The volume of signatures this one received would indicate quite a sample achieved, three times that required to ensure a discussion in paliament.

 

There are a variety of epetition options to choose from if people or organisations are minded to run a campaign.  The Forum are working with 38 degrees to raise public awareness of the truth behind the Board and Senior Directors within Natural England proposal to dedicated some 87 National NATURE Reserves as Open Access.

 

STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access areas.

 

Please consider signing it and if you twitter or facebook then please spread the word.

‘Moor’ about badgers ….

September 1, 2013

Sorry to keep ‘badgering’ you about negative issues, let’s face it we hear so many positive ones that I really should learn to set aside (ooops, no pun intended) a few bits of bad news?  Can you forgive another batch of BADGER related ramblings?

Here’s the delightful face of those wonderful black and white beasts, the quintessential mammal of the English countryside :

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s the other side of the coin, the cruelty illegally inflicted by those who see badgers as vermin and a threat to their business:

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

Hours of suffering as a result of an illegal snare badly set.

 

Bad enough the image above but, there’s now ‘legalised’ murder going on as I write this post, the cull sanctioned by Government is underway and being conducted in Wales.

Badgergate is well worth a read, there are some interesting facts to consider as well as suggestions as to how you can help, who and where to write to and possible pointers as to what you might include.  I appreciate that there are some who hold views that ‘mass protest’ outwith an imminent election is not effective, but to claim that this is a trial and there is no intention to test the shot badgers for bTB!  How do they claim any credibility for that lack of science?  Badgergate is to be applauded, their strapline of “Bovine TB: facts, fantasy & politics” sums up quite eruditely the situation in my view.

Whilst you’d like to be able to trust Government, I struggle to understand what they have based this decision on.  The Krebs report analyses data from the UK 1973 – 2007, so why do they look abroad for support?  Why have successive governments failed to implement a vaccination programme in areas of high risk?  Why have the NFU and their counterparts not supported this, why have they not funded independent science?

If any of you watched the recent BBC2 series “The Burrowers: Animals Underground” you would have gained a fascinating insight into the research by Chris Cheesman, someone who had over 35 years studied badgers and still as a result of this programme learnt new facts about the species.  His view is well worth the few minutes you need to read it here.  In fact I’d say if you’re only able to read one of the links here in today’s post then this one by Dr Cheesman has to be it!

Another well made selection of points can be found on Steve Backshall’s Facebook page, whilst I don’t do ‘social media’ I do recognise that it can be effective communication.  In case you are not familiar with the gentleman he’s the television presenter well known for programmes such as ‘Live and Deadly’.

A totally random thought but I just wonder how the 635 MPs would react if all their constuituents regularly twittered, tweeted or facebooked them about the badger cull?  Even if just say 10% did then surely it would create a reaction?  In fact, I reckon if just 1% did then that would have them a tad worried I suspect …. Likewise the various PR companies employed by government departments, or the NGO hierarchies?  Reality kicks back in ….  and along with it I am reminded of the apathy and lethargy demonstrated by the public over hen harriers etc.  However, Brian May’s petition creeps up and it is after all on a Government epetition website!  Just in case you need a reminder it can be accessed here.    291,126 as I ramble – come on let’s help it to 300,000!  Voices for nature where are you all?

What do other people think about this mass murder I wonder, Iolo Williams surely he has something to say about the subject?  Excellent, he has and so do quite a few other ‘celebs’ Chris Packham, Simon King, David Attenborough et. al.  Chris Packham also warns of potential consequences of direct action (his skit, see earlier link, at the Welsh tourism board or variant was noted though on the savethebadger.com website).

Is there a solution that all parties can sign up to?  Sadly, I doubt it.  There are vociferous advocates on both sides of the argument, that’s democracy but I do so love ‘Ralph’s’ definition on Mark Avery’s blog, it just sums up the politics to a tee!  Logic requires that science must surely have a key role in any analysis and eventual decision?  That science must similarly be conducted and evaluated independently?  Then if there is dissent and the public purse is to fund any action, then reasoned logic and dare I offer democracy requires that the public have a say?

Oh dear, if that were the case then STOP & RETHINK  Open Access on National Nature Reserves too might be a ‘moor’ open and transparent discussion?

Images courtesy of the South Yorkshire Badger Group.   

 

Doom & gloom or a call to arms?

August 31, 2013

It seems that it’s all doom and gloom at the moment, The State of Nature illustrates well the collective failure to redress the damage and the decline in habitats and species.  We read that Hen Harriers are predicted to become extinct in our lifetime and now the badger cull has started.

Mark Avery’s blog discusses the merits of on line petitions and the one most often cited is that calling for the licencing of upland grouse moors in an attempt to protect Hen Harriers, just in case you’ve not signed it then see here.  Currently there are 6,334 signatories, so what happened to those million voices for nature, similarly the 800,000, accepting of course that it’s highly likely there will be many who are members of both?

In terms of the badger cull which, as many of us will be aware of has already started, so again in case you’ve not signed the ‘directgov’ epetition then click on this link.  In terms of the ‘debate’ there is an amazing volume of blame laid at the door of the badger, yet there seems to be deafening silence from defra or the farming lobby about finding real solutions to the problem, that is to say other than culling badgers.  There are some excellent points made by readers of Mark Avery’s ‘Standing up for Nature’ blog, well made and anyone needing persuasion should read here.   Avery’s recent post ‘Bovine TB’ has attracted 54 comments, that’s quite some response which seems to infer that there’s been too much war mongering and too little science, some basic questions about the ‘intensification’ of beef and dairy farming have also come to the fore again.  The cartoon, in my humble opinion, sums up the state of the nation’s democracy – in general and not just the badger debate, politicians as a species – one wonders if their decline be missed, do we really need 650 as well as another 800 unelected?

These badger cull ‘trials’ are being conducted in Gloucestershire, so do we write to MPs, Ministers, the NFU, CLBA and the tourist boards indicating that we will no longer visit, purchase British beef, British milk and oh dear, that lovely Shropshire brie has to go as well – but let’s think positive: less calories so a healthier diet!  It’s somewhat extreme, rather too radical …. but, what else are we left with when approaching 300,000 voices are ignored?  Money talks and if the farm gate receipts fall then farmers might be persuaded to reconsider, or will they expect to be bailed out by the ‘welfare state’ (aka tax-payers)?  Should we suspend the Single Farm Payments used to support farmers in that area, after all how can they argue the case that they are the custodians of wildlife and the countryside?  I don’t know the answer, does anyone?  The arguments are emotive, highly charged and will still not be resolved by the shedding of badger blood.

We have to ask is the dire straights which the countryside finds itself in, the ongoing decline of once familiar species, a sorry barometer for the state of mankind in general?  Should we go along with the apathy or should we act to ensure that there is accountability and that history attributes accurately the facts of the matter?

Which if we may be forgiven for bringing another petition to readers attention, they say things come in threes?  So can we appeal to readers who haven’t yet signed the Forum’s petition STOP & RETHINK National Nature Reserves as Open Access Areas to consider doing so here. 

 

DSC_1916_lowres

 

Once ravaged for its peat, saved or so we thought …. is it destined to become a theme park now, no longer the idyllic tranquility local people treasure?

To those who have, a massive thank you and to those who have twittered or tweeted it or posted it on facebook ‘moor’ thanks.  We wondered what the response would be to our challenging the proposal of Open Access, it seemed contra to the conservation campaigning of the past.  We have been heartened by the many supportive comments posted on the 38 degree’s campaign petition.  This approach, by Natural England, is demonstrative of a failure to listen, to conduct business behind closed doors as well as compliance in terms of the Habitats Directive.  Senior Directors have failed to provide assurances that sufficient funds have been secured in perpetuity to monitor and manage for Likely Significant Effect.  Instead, it appears that it will come from core funds.  Does that mean that less will be spent on ensuring that National Nature Reserves, not just here at Thorne and Hatfield Moors, will slip into decline in terms of favourable condition status for their special interest features because funds are diverted for fences, gates, stiles, interpretation boards, picnic tables rather than management which will benefit habitat and species of nature conservation interest?

 I leave you all with a thought, borrowed from a report produced and downloadable at Common Cause

“What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshakable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents.”  Jay Griffiths.

 

 


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Hatfield Moors Birding Blog

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Mark Avery

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a new nature blog

I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

UK and Ireland Natural History Bloggers

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