Posts Tagged ‘Birders Against Wildlife Crime’

Will you be going to Henry’s picnic rally?

June 19, 2016

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Readers of this blog will be familiar with the ongoing issue of raptor persecution, particularly that involving  Hen Harriers and the issue of upland management for driven grouse shooting. 

We are informed that there is to be a ‘picnic’ next Saturday, 25th June 2016 in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  It is being billed as a Hen Harrier rally to mark this year’s virtual absence of nesting Hen Harriers from the English uplands.

The details will be released on Wednesday this week, for details visit Standing up for nature via http://markavery.info/blog/  and or Raptor Persecution UK via https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/

Another useful and informative website is Birders Against Wildlife Crime, Charlie Moore’s recent blog post is worth a read via  http://birdersagainst.org/where-do-you-stand/

Have you booked your place on the Raptors, Uplands and Peatlands conference to be held in Sheffield on 9 & 10 September?  For more details visit http://www.ukeconet.org/news/raptors-upland-peatlands-conference-2016

Meet the author of “Inglorious” at the above event.  An authoritative tome which presents a well researched case against the management of the uplands for grouse shooting.

Inglorious front cover

Help get the epetition to Ban driven grouse shooting to the 100k in order that it can be ‘considered’ for discussion in Parliament, via https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/125003

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions: Avery offers suggestions ….

December 13, 2015

It was a packed Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre on Friday evening, Dr Mark Avery’s message to people – don’t just leave it to others, but act as individuals and then the critical mass has the potential to cause change (that assumes that there is sufficient collaborative conservation) ….

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Avery, author of a number of ‘campaigning’ tomes which if you’ve not already read might feature on your Christmas wish list?  Fighting for Birds written post RSPB employment, A Message from Martha and significantly Inglorious A Conflict in the Uplands provides background information and peer reviewed science on the ‘sport’ of driven grouse shooting.  Updates and supplementary information is available via Standing up for Nature.

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Avery asked the audience various questions about their love and actions for the natural environment, with much as expected results.  The acid test as they say would be in twelve months if that same audience returned their with lists of actions and outcomes?

Consider cutting back on meat consumption, Avery now enjoys a four days a week meat free and insists that it’s not difficult.  I’d agree and readers can see why by clicking on the link above.  One person was rather too pleased with themself for being a vegetarian, whilst that is laudable it wouldn’t actually make any impact post talk.  It might be that Avery was trying to encourage meat eaters to think a bit more about the impact of their choice, to inform themselves more about the issues involved with eating meat and thus by cutting back there was recognition but also a compromise which didn’t stop enjoyment of the great bacon butty or succulent steak from locally reared rare breed cattle (not agri-industrialised ‘processed’ meat for supermarket chains with far too many food miles and astronomical carbon footprint).  The talk, was I think designed to make people look at their lifestyles without trying to make them feel guilty, it was about making informed choices and coming to acceptable compromises.

Get out there more and connect with nature, and encourage others to.  By enjoying a space made available for nature to heal, through planning mitigation or industry transfer for an NGO to ‘garden’ then the wilder and less accessible places come into focus and remind people who pay taxes and support ‘agri-welfare’ schemes that they are valuable and not just playgrounds for elite sport or tax deductable forestry developments for pension funds but areas of land which can positively benefit the whole population through carbon sequestration or flood allieviation etc.

Choose a couple or so of ‘causes’ to get involved with, research them well and write, attend rallies etc. to further them.  Neonictinoids and bees, badgers and bTB and climate change were some offered as suggestions.

Write to MPs.  Mark suggested a letter a month as being an easy target.  We’d agree but you must recognise that MPs don’t always respond, a recent letter about hen harriers and driven grouse shooting was sent to one of our local MPs who then sent this on to the Minister and the most patronising ill informed response was sent back via the MP.  Indignant that the respondent had clearly failed to read the letter let alone the eight questions asked which have still not been answered a follow up letter was written, sadly to date no response from either the MP or the Minister.  Other correspondence awaiting replies include such topics as bTB and NeonictinoidsThey work for you?  I must look up what it is that they do such that if they were all (including the other 850 in the Westminster Palace) kidnapped by aliens what in our daily lives would cease to happen ….

Review your membership of the NGOs you support, setting aside reasons like the cost do they still reflect your interests, do they take action on issues you consider important, are they able to evidence claims of outcomes they publicise?  One member of the audience cited a charity seeking additional funds for target species and Avery rightly offered advice on testing the marketing material used, it is certainly something to consider before responding to direct marketing?

Support and get involved with an NGO.

Write to the NGOs of which you are members and praise positives and present a case for action on particular issues that people felt strongly about in the hope that they might become involved.

Sign ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’ and encourage others to.

Iceland RG 0146Game meat offered for sale locally, toxic lead content of the brace illustrated???   Click on the image to see more detail and price. 

You’d need to do some backround research as to the case for banning lead ammunition but the epetition to “Ban toxic lead ammunition” is something that is worth considering if you are not already a signatory to it?  Avery’s forensic attention to detail makes a compelling case, a case already supported through the banning of lead shot in wildfowling, supported by the likes of Lord Krebs so one could be forgiven when one reads the pontificating badly briefed MPs in shooting constituencies worried about the cost of converting their pairs of Purdy’s when the topic was discussed recently in the Westminster village?  I suppose if a dozen shooters wrote to them they can claim to be representing views of constituents, but I would still be interested in why they see no issue with no regulation on toxic metals in the human food chain for game when it exists for farmed meat, common sense, consistency?

I’d probably add a couple of other suggestions, if not a daily dose of Avery via Standing up for Nature then at least a weekly look at his blog posts?  He offers thought provoking and often topical items, he prompts action even if it is only a nudge to respond to a goverment consultation, he offers you a ‘right of reply’ through a comment facility.  There are other blogs available, “a new nature blog” is one such offering let us know who you follow and why?  There are of course the ‘corporate’ blogs offered by the NGOs but the two offerded here are independent and not marketing linked to membership organisations.

If you read one book this ‘consumerfest’ then I recommend and challenge any agnostic to not be persuaded after a Yuletide dose of ‘non-medicated nor toxic’ Inglorious A Conflict in the UplandsI suppose if one were to reflect on the description of Inglorious being non-toxic, then it is all relative and those who participate in the activity which appears to endorse illegal acts then it is a spotlight on practices some would prefer kept below the public radar?

As for undertaking the above suggestions, will you if you’ve not already done so?

With apologies to Mark for not providing his full list, NYR – really must do better? 

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Henry the campaign’s mascot (above) – I dipped out on meeting him at the Birdfair, but here’s to 2016 and a good year for Hen Harriers.  To Birders Against Wildlife Crime, long may their endeavours see wildlife crime remain a high profile campaign.  To Chris Packham and the other wildlife ‘celebrities’ who have rallied and risked being threatened by the ‘sack’ a massive thank you.

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Reflections, accountability & action?

September 5, 2015

Wednesday’s Guardian sees Chris Packham slaming “shameful silence of Britains conservation charities” and particularly asking serious questions about the disappointing performance of the large and affluent NGOs on the issue of illegal persecution of raptors, most especially Hen Harriers.  There is also much discussion about this ‘deafening silence’ in terms of organisational support on the popular blog site Standing up for Nature.

The Hawk and Owl Trust are insistent that to Ban driven grouse shooting would be counter productive, but fail to mention the amount of public money large shooting estates receive and how heather burning or predator management provides (or not) public benefit.  Inglorious on the other hand provides an excellent resume of the issue.

The September issue of BBC Wildlife magazine also sees Packham saying that “It’s shameful that some conservation charities won’t stand up for foxes, badgers and hen harriers”. 

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Perhaps their senior staff and maybe trustees will be wincing at his words?  Hopefully some of their members will, prompted by Packham ask questions about the failure of the affluent almost quasi quangoes to challenge and to champion the cause for wildlife conservation?  The National Trust too does not escape comment, partricularly in respect of the upland moors it owns and manages.  Peak Malpractice was an expose of raptor persecution back in 2007 but what is perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the situation has worsened, hence the Ban driven grouse shooting epetion as well as a range of other actions designed to raise the profile of illegal persecution and wildlife crime.  Readers will recall that Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC) was a ‘community’ reaction to failure by various organisations who conservationists might reasonably have expected to champion such cause.

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One might comment that it is hardly surprising therefore that despite austere times, new conservation charities are still being created?  Simon King, the President of the Wildlife Trusts, has set up one such venture with education at its heart, the Simon King Wildlife Project.  One might wonder why after all, with a link to a network of 47 charities across the country he has done this?  It seems reasonable to assume that the county trusts ought to be able to engage, educate, enthuse and empower local actions?  The RSPB too has local member groups but their primary purpose appears to be fund raising with ocassional coach trips, nothing wrong with such aims but where do people turn when they want to protect their local woodland or heathland from threat of development?  The march of metal monsters creating rings of steel and the recent government push for fracking are other issues which have mobilised local action.

There are perhaps good reasons for the affluent NGOs to sit on the fence, but after a while the splinters must start to sting from uncomfortable squirming?  Accountability to members or to tax payers in the case of Public Bodies appears not to be a popular element of the government promoted ‘open and transparent’ or conduct in public life agenda?

How does the community, collectively challenge actions it might perceive to be at variance with the public interest?  How many of the large membership organisations offer infrastructure support for grassroots conservation?  FOE and CPRE are a couple which spring to mind, TCV offers help for groups involved in practical conservation but there appears a gap in the market?  Voluntary Action and CVS groups can help small local groups but they are more geared up to working with health or social care groups, luncheon clubs and the likes.  If local action groups as described above were ‘fundable’ then the chances are that it would be offered, but would government want to empower local action?  Local action opposing fracking has exposed the reality of the promise of local decisions on local issues when central government has over-ruled local planning authorities to approve developments and promote fracking, how do local communities challenge multi-million corporations when they have such support?

There are tools to help, there is an amazing choice of epetition options that community campaigners can use.  The government website option petition.parliament.uk is certainly worth considering, if it achieves 10,000 signatures then the department or government agency it involves is required to provide a response.  If it reaches 100,000 signatures then the issue it raises is discussed in Parliament.  2015 saw the time that epetitions are allowed to run on the site reduced from 12 to six months.  Mark Avery elected to use this option to Ban driven grouse shooting.  There are 38 degrees, Avaaz , SumofUs , Change.org and many other web options available.  They are easy to use, the effectiveness in combination with social media has been demonstrably efficient and such examples would be the government u-turn when the ConDems tried to sell off the public forest estate.  Elsewhere on this blog and on others there has been examples offered where the disposal of public forest has been achieved through other options, but that is another issue and should not distract from the value of collective and collaborative critical mass challenging for the public interest?

GOV.UK also provides information on how to make a Freedom of Information request, but another excellent tool available is the Freedom of Information website “whatdotheyknow“.  Public Bodies are required to provide responses to requests as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  The Information Commissioners Office is also an option where requests have been declined for what might be perceived as no valid or justified reason.  FoI or EIR requests can be addressed directly to the Public Body, agency or authority through a dedicated office(r) or via “whatdotheyknow“.  This option is one by which other campaigners can benefit through open access.  It is a useful resource as researchers can gain connsiderable intelligence on topics or on particular organisations in receipt of public funds.

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Celebs & call to arms …. Birdfair 2015

August 23, 2015

Today is the final day of the annual Birdfair at Rutland Water and if Mark Avery’s blog is anything to go by Henry is having a great time meeting up with and getting lots of hugs from conservation ‘celebs’.  This year was the 27th and was significantly different to the first back in 1989.  The weather has thus far been kind, Friday saw a few spots but n’owt to deter folk and the marquees were within easy distance of each other, but over far larger acreage and a far cry from the very first BF which Bill Oddie described as a boy scout camp in his reminiscing on page 8 and 9 of this year’s programme.

This year Iolo Williams made his debut appearance, alongside a cast of other ‘celebrities’ from the environmental conservation sector.  His presentation, as expected was an excellent call to arms similar in some respects to his introduction at the State of Nature Report launch in 2013.  His charasmatic Welsh charm was wonderfully refreshing to hear and his honesty despite his frustration with statutory failure to address the loss and ongoing decline of habitats and species was evident, yet there was also a ‘can do will do’ proactive passion still there.  Red Kite is the Welsh national bird, but he admitted when asked by a member of the audience that his favourite was the Hen Harrier and one of his favourite memories was that of finding his first nest of the species.

Iolo Williams, a seriously inspirational speaker, a passionate voice for nature.

Iolo Williams, a seriously inspirational speaker, a passionate voice for nature.

The next ‘celeb’ up was Simon King, he is clearly passionate about educating the next generation and to this end has recently established a new charity, the Simon King Wildlife Project which is using a 10 acre meadow to restore wildlife and in so doing create inspiration for young people through education and engagement.  It has to be said that he did a wondeful job persuading people to experience the true aroma that is otter spraint.

The audience were encouraged to sniff Otter spraints as part of the 'educational engagement experience' offered.

The audience were encouraged to sniff Otter spraints as part of the ‘educational engagement experience’ offered.

Another speaker who has created a haven for wildlife and alongside a fantastic education facility at Aigas in the Highlands, Sir John Lister-Kaye also spoke of statutory procrastination and the need for nature in all our lives.

The irrespresible Bill Oddie 'Unplucked'

The irrespresible Bill Oddie ‘Unplucked’

The wonderfully provocative Mark Avery offered and advocated an ‘Inglorious’ challenge to the ‘grouse-industry’ much to the delight of the audience in another packed marquee and risked writers cramp by signing copies of his book Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands. 

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Tucked away in a corner of a marquee was a ‘Lush’ species created specifically to raise the profile of the issue around illegal persection and loss in our uplands of the spectacular Hen Harrier.  It was great to be able to secure a HH bath bomb and to thank Mark Constantine in person for Lush’s support of the Hen Harrier campaign.

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It was great too that the guys from Birders Against Wildlife Crime had a presence.  Charlie, Phil & Lawrie have worked hard to raise the profile of the Hen Harrier issue and in collaboration with Mark Avery and Chris Packham have run a seriously successful Eyes in the Field Conference in March 2015 in Buxton, two fantastic Hen Harrier Days in the Peak District and an evening of talks ahead of this year’s HH Day.

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It is great that as well as the expected ornithological related stands and the astonishing array of travel offers, the latest optics to test out that other natural history disciplines were represented.  The British Arachnological Society had a presence and Dr Helen Smith was present with some of her fabulous study species Dolomedes plantarius or fen raft spiders. They really are a fabulous beast, well they are in the author’s opinion and it was a delight to be able to see some first hand.  “On the margins: The fen raft spiders of Redgrave and Lopham Fen” is superbly illustrated by Sheila Tilmouth and is an account of Smith’s studies and work on the species.  There is a dedicated FRS website Dolomedes.org.uk

Atropos, the journal for all butterfly, moth and dragonfly enthusiasts was present and subscribers were able to collect the latest edition of the journal ‘hot off the press’.

One pleasant surprise was the service received from the guys at the Leica stand.  Now my trusty 8×42 Trinovid’s are admittedly in their early 20’s but they are still in very good condition and optically as one would expect provide Leica excellent views but they were in need of a new rainguard so I enquired if they had any to purchase.  Half an hour or so later I came away with a new rainguard and they’d stripped the eyepieces down and performed a very professional clean of some two decades or so of accumulated ‘dust’.  All part of the Leica lifetime guarantee, now that is what I call service!  Thank you Leica team.

So all in all an excellent event and here’s hoping they reach their target for this year for ‘Protecting migratory birds in the Eastern Mediterranean’.

 

Out & about & Hen Harrier Day 2015 update

July 6, 2015
York Museum Gardens  Image: Peter Kendall

York Museum Gardens
Image: Peter Kendall

The RES IF15 yesterday was busy, a conservative estimate placed attendance at around 1,700.  York is a popular venue choice, not just for tourists and visitors who might drop in but also for regional entomologists and naturalists.  The marquees (above) were popular with the children as they offered face painting but also hands on with ‘pets with a difference’ whilst the Hospitium (below) housed an array of organisations with a wide range of interests and specialisms.

The Hospitium York Museum Gardens. Image: Helen Kirk

The Hospitium York Museum Gardens.
Image: Helen Kirk

The weather held with the advent of rain only as the day drew to a close and the deluge came as we drove home but it didn’t detract from the day.  The RES hold the event every two years and the Forum have exhibited since it began back in 2009 so it was pleasing to be told by a few visitors that we had an astonishing array of published material which reflected our knowledge base as well as an extensive network , even more pleasing that people took some back with them.

Other than the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows we were the only other organisation which had as its focus a geographical area, yet despite that we were able to help people with their IDENTology requests and sundry entomological enquiries.  People still ask about the peat extraction and if it has actually ceased, they are sometimes aghast that the Reviews of Mineral Planning Permissions (ROMPPs) have not yet been concluded by the Local Planning Authorities as required under the EU Habitats Directive and that planning consents are still extant on areas of Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI.

2015 HH Day logo

It was good too that people easily recognised the Hen Harrier Day posters displayed on our stand, and that they were aware of the issues.  Of HHD 2015, it’s great to be able to report that the PEAK DISTRICT HEN HARRIER DAY 2015 has had its location confirmed as Goytsclough Quarry, The Goyt Valley, Derbyshire, OS Grid Reference SK 011 733  To keep abreast of news on the events planned across the country bookmark and regularly visit www.henharrierday.org   Other useful sites include Standing up for Nature and BAWC.

 

Whilst members of the Executive were engaging with the next generation others were out in the field ….

This stunning Ringlet was one of 246 counted by Martin Warne on Thorne Moors recently.

This stunning Ringlet was one of 246 counted by Martin Warne on Thorne Moors recently.

Recording the wildlife we seek to conserve. 

Another of Martin Warne's stunning images, this time a pair of Large Skipper.

Another of Martin Warne’s stunning images, this time a pair of Large Skipper.

Martin’s patience was certainly rewarded or perhaps the target species were a little distracted and otherwise occupied to worry too much about a photographer?

Eyes in the field …. BAWC @ Buxton

March 21, 2015

Informative and ‘moor’ importantly it was an inspiring day.   Birders Against Wildlife Crime are to be congratulated on a fantastic Eyes in the Field Wildlife Crime Conference.  Even the tempremental technology failed to dampen the enthusiasm generated by the gathering.  A packed room saw some 120 delegates meeting in Buxton in the Peak District to hear empowering talks, to discuss strategies and to meet Henry ….

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Conference speakers take a break to enjoy the Derbyshire air.

Charlie Moores opened the conference and Chris Packham (in his Massacre on Malta t-shirt) and Dominic Dyer set the scene with their infectious passion for championing change for wildlife benefit.  Both spoke with informed and reasoned rationale, both offered options for solutions.  Both recognised the ‘political’ aspects and complexities.  Both had tried to take the measured route but accepted that there comes a point when compromise has failed and a change of tack and focus is needed.  Packham encouraged a stance I have long found to be an energising option, the “use anger as a force for change”.  It was particularly interesting to hear Packham’s view on his role on Springwatch, in so far as the main audience were “not a wholly committed audience”, he sought to encourage people that “caring is not enough” and urged people “to actually do something”.  He explained why he had chosen to play the “long game” and it seemed as a consequence he had taken some criticism for that stance.  That is sad, but human nature is fickle and oft only sees the surface?  Packham explained that the biggest issue in his view is that ‘wildlife crime’ is not a crime, and it is not seen as a real crime.  This despite the various pieces of legislation which are infringed, broken or ignored.  Dyer highlighted issues with Natural England and whilst acknowledging that there were good individuals in the Defra agency, he considered they were no longer “fit for purpose”, his solution would be to see them replaced by an independent wildlife protection agency.

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Chris with his new ‘friend’ Henry, who we understand that he may be ‘appearing’ somewhere near you this coming year.

Bob Elliot and Paul Tillsley provided examples of case studies they had been involved in.  Ruth Tingay introduced the audience to “Natural Injustice: the failure of wildlife crime enforcement in Scotland”.  “Natural Injustice: Eliminating Wildlife Crime in Scotland” offers some 20 recommendations, none of which appear particularly onerous, but then conservation is not everyone’s passion?

Alan Charles (Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner) and Chris Williamson (MP Derbyshire North) spoke of practical and political perspectives.  It was as they say ‘a refreshing change’ to hear a politician being honest about his past as well as his passion for addressing wildlife crime.

Other presentations were made by the Derbyshire Bat Conservation Group and Craig Fellowes, a retired police officer who now organises training for wildlife crime recognition and reporting.

Mark Avery as anticipated both entertained and offered thought provoking suggestions.  There are ten days left till his epetition is closed, so if you’ve not already signed it you might like to consider ‘Ban driven grouse shooting’?    Currently it stands at 21,971 so let’s see if we can have a last push and get it past 22,000?  A prolific writer his next potentially controversial offering is perhaps appropriately entitled “Inglorious“?

The other ask from Avery was that the audience consider voting for the nations favourite bird, an online (& at selected nature reserves) poll.  One cannot fault Avery’s logic about the benefit of the accolade to any of the usual suspects likely to receive the ‘crown’ (robin, wren, blackbird, kingfisher etc.) but if the Hen Harrier were to get into the top three for example then it would see a relatively unknown candidate see immense benefit from having a raised species profile.  Apparently there was surprise expressed by the Urban Birder when the Hen Harrier made it into the top ten.  So, Vote for Britain’s National Bird and send politicians and others a clear message?  

There was a Q&A session where the issue of brood management received a resounding thumbs down, so where does that leave the Hawk & Owl Trust?   150321 Q&A panel hrk 882

The Q&A session rounded off an excellent day’s conference …. here’s to next years and to Hen Harrier Day 2015 (9 August) and to the publication of ‘Inglorious’ just ahead of the ‘infamous’ 12th!   In the interim we all have plenty to do in terms of conservation campaigning ahead and beyond the forthcoming General Election in 46 days time?

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Watch this space for details of 2015 Hen Harrier Day.

Recognise: Record: Report

First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win. 

(Mahatma Gandhi)

‘Moor’ badgerings, ‘hare’ we go again and spiders?

January 18, 2015

The BBC reports that Ministers and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) believe culling badgers will curb TB in cattle.  Ms Truss, the Minister claimed the government’s “comprehensive strategy” was supported by leading vets. 

But protesters have claimed independent monitoring has been dropped and attempted to have the cull halted at the High Court.

The move was rejected by judges, after which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: “We have always been clear that the independent expert panel’s role was to oversee the six-week pilots in the first year of the culls only.

“This year we have made changes to monitor effectiveness and humaneness and the culls will be independently audited.”

An independent report by the expert panel into the first year of culls found that “controlled shooting” of free-running badgers could not deliver the level of culling needed to lower TB cases in cattle and was not humane.

Try as we might we are unable to offer any link to any science which underpins the Minister or the NFUs ‘belief’.  Having said that one might reason you don’t actually need evidence, let alone allow it to be peer reviewed to ‘believe’?  What motivates Ministers?  The abiding memory for many will be the u-turn on the ‘independent monitoring’ of the culls?  Like so many promises made by politicians, it seems to have fallen by the wayside once the spotlight had been distracted towards other topical issues?

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What really saddens us here in the Doncaster area,  which is as far as we are aware a bTB free zone, is the systematic destruction of badger setts.  Whilst it was pleasant to spend the afternoon in the field so to speak, it was far from pleasant to witness the loss of another sett in the district.  The sett on agricultural land, accessed via quiet country lanes with locked barriers, was also in view of distant properties.  A large sett with a number of active entrance holes had been well and truly dug.  Even the hardened badger workers were quite shocked at the sheer extent of the ‘diggers’ activity.

What was apparent was the length of time the ‘diggers’ would have been at the site to have dug at least seven of the holes and one of them to considerable depth.  What surprised me but was readily explained by one of the group was the absence of badgers, or parts thereof!  Apparently a live badger for baiting and the associated gambling is worth around £800!  So, it followed that they would have carted off as many as they could.  That in itself would have been a particularly interesting logistical operation and one requiring a team of  strong individuals, cages and in all likelihood a vehicle.  No one saw a thing?

What really hit home as well, was the inhumanity that had to be inherent in the individuals engaged in such activity.  The sows would either be heavily pregnant at this time of year or they would have recently given birth.  If the ‘diggers’ didn’t reach a sow then the chances are such that the stress level would cause her to either abort or to kill the cubs.

The loss of this group pushes the ‘Doncaster’ population to the brink of extinction.  As groups are lost to areas, any remaining become isolated and weakened by inbreeding as there are no neighbouring groups to recruit from or to join.  Brock an iconic mammal of the quintessential British Countryside could be lost to us in a couple of years or so in the Doncaster area if the current persecution rate continues.

The other aspect which was quite noticable was the damage to the agricultural land, albeit in the main, the headland.  However the digging had clearly encroached onto land which would in due course be worked by large and expensive machinery.  The site had been left a mess and the landowner was left with reparation of his land to return it to a safe state, in order to work it, come time to harvest the crop.

Whilst badgers might elicit mixed feelings across the spectrum of emotions, such activity is against the law and it certainly appears to constitute tresspass aggravated by possible criminal damage.  Factor in the local ‘intel’ that gangs of criminals are working rural areas, it seems reasonable that there could be benefit from collaborative working?

Please if anyone sees anything suspicious, then please do report it to the police via 101 or to the South Yorkshire Badger Group.  Please, remember it is important to report the crime to the proper authorities as soon as possible. If calling the police (in an emergency use 999, otherwise use 101) ask to speak to a Wildlife Crime Officer (WCO) and make sure to get an Incident Report number.

An excellent site which makes much useful information available is Birders Against Wildlife Crime.  They have an excellent ‘motto’ Recognise, Record & Report!  Similarly the Badger Trust website has regular updates on the situation and Government stance.

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ePetitioning for protection from persecution (aka ‘campaign corner’):

Mountain Hares are killed in large numbers on grouse moors because they carry ticks that might affect Red Grouse numbers. The shooting industry doesn’t want Red Grouse to die of tick-borne diseases – instead they want them to die by being shot by paying customers on grouse moors.  Much other wildlife is an inconvenient presence including Mountain Hares and raptors, notably Hen Harriers.

This epetition asks Scottish Natural Heritage to protect this native species from persecution from the shooting industry.  SNH is concerned about this issue but has only asked for voluntary restraint from grouse shooting.  We struggle to recollect voluntary codes or guidelines which have worked, two examples which spring to mind and might illustrate that suggestion are the reduction of peat in growing media and MPs sorting out their own expenses?
Buglife, an excellent wildlife charity, is asking for support for a tiny spider only known to live in a couple of sites in the world – one of which maybe destroyed by house building.  A planning enquiry starts next week so any signatures gained by this epetition will help to demonstrate public support for thisapparently insignificant spider (size isn’t everything in nature).  Whilst the epetition is about a rare spider, the bigger issue appears to be that of a planning system which is in such of a ‘pickle’?
Then this really is just in case …. you don’t know that there is an e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting that has stirred things up quite a bit over the last few months. It passed the 20,000 signature mark before Christmas and every further signature is valuable in the run-in to the general election campaign.

Draining, badgering & harrier (ing) …. ‘moor’ calls for action?

November 24, 2014

DRAINING ….

Readers may recall that the Forum have an interest in the workings and particularly the open and transparent conduct of business by Internal Drainage Boards, public bodies who receive substantive funding through Special Levy collected by the Local Authorities.  Regular readers will also be aware that the Forum’s area of geographic interest is in the main, the peatlands of the Humberhead Levels, principally Thorne & Hatfield Moors SSSI.

Danvm Drainage Commissioners have recently been subject of a Governance Audit, the published report is hard to locate but to the determined it can be found on the Shire Group of IDBs website through the Danvm Drainage Commissioners page.

Linked to this Audit, an investigation into the modus operandi of the DDC, the Forum have also submitted a follow up Freedom of Information request to DMBC / DDC via the WhatDoTheyKnow website.  A response is advised as 4 December.  On the previous occasion we submitted a request, the refusal to release was five days overtime and further to the response we requested an Internal Review – we have heard nothing since!

The Shire Group of IDBs also provide management services to a number of other ‘Humberhead’ IDBs, including Doncaster East IDB and Black Drain Drainage Board.  Both Danvm DC and Doncaster East IDB were formed through amalgamation of a number of smaller boards in 2012, Black Drain DC is one of the last remaining smaller boards operating in the Humberhead Levels principally funded through the public purse.

The DDC Audit was not as damming perhaps as that which saw the demise of the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Drainage Board, but it was a revelation of current practice of a recently formed amalgamation of smaller Boards.

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A Hatfield Chase drainage channel …. debris first noted 28 September, still there despite more recently mown drain sides.  This despite an understanding that there are inspections carried out ahead of regular maintenance works.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Late maintenance can cause slumping.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

Land worked right up to drain sides, another example of Hatfield Chase ditches.

BADGERING AWAY STILL ….   

The Badger Trust is still very active, quite rightly in our opinion, with events and activities which are keeping the issue in the public domain.  If you have an interest in the issue and the views of those listed then click on their names and assuming that the technology co-operates you will be taken to a UTube video with some excellent statistics offered in relation to the failure by Defra to undertake science and monitoring to validate the Badger Cull policy.

Chris Packham       Dominic Dyer       Pete Martin     Adrian Coward

The crucial message is that as well as caring people should also DO.  So, as winter draws in and the General Election looms get the pens out or better still a series of emails or start or join a social media campaign and play a part in raising the profile of unecessary and expensive cruel acts devoid of any credible scientific foundation.    The Badger Trust and Birders Against Wildlife Crime  websites are excellent source of ideas.

 

Tim M Badger 7465227996_e7b29e0ea9_h

The recent badger cull has reputedly cost in the region of £5,200 per badger, they must be moving the goalposts again?  Weren’t we told it would only be a few hundred pounds per animal when OPatz initiated the trial? 

 

Birders Against Wildlife Crime: Recognise, Record, Report‘Eyes in the Field’ Wildlife Crime Conference, Buxton, Derbyshire Saturday 21st March 2015 has an excellent line up of speakers – limited places so get on and book yours.

The call for making wildlife crime a performance measure for the Police will bring resources to the issue.  With the illegal persecution of birds of prey particularly Hen Harriers, it is difficult to gather evidence to secure a prosection so Dr Mark Avery has set up an epetition calling for the Banning of driven grouse shooting which he suggests would be more effective.  It has certainly been a blue touch paper in terms of igniting a concerted effort to raise the profile of nature conservation, long may the debate continue ….

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter? Image: Tim Melling

How many will we see in the Humberhead Levels this winter?
Image: Tim Melling

Raptor politics, another campaigning website is also a valuable source of information.

In the words of Ghandi:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win!

Greenblobpride

 

 

Hen Harrier Day aftermath & badger marches

August 11, 2014

Well, it looked wet up at the Derwent Dam in the Peak District but apparently all attending appeared to consider it well worth the effort. Well done to all the 570 who turned out to evidence public fury over the continuing illegal persecution of raptors.

Hen Harrier Day 2014 has certainly provoked a media campaign by the likes of the Moorland Association, whose claims were quite astonishing and it was a great shame that the BBC reporter hadn’t the committment to test Ms Anderson’s assertions that driven grouse moors are great for HHs. Having said that they would be perhaps, except for the issue of criminals at work or play on those same driven grouse moorlands?  Therein lay the failure of Faith Wilkinson, or that of her script writer?  Chris Packham did the campaign proud, no lies no selective reporting …. judge for yourself here.  An excellent analogy was made by the Shadow Minister Barry Gardiner who described the area as a Bermuda Triangle for Hen Harriers.  Charlie Moores BAWC called for it to stop now, not eventually if the draft Hen Harrier Recovery Plan ever materialises …. seven years in the gestation, the egg is addled from so much rhetoric and hot air?

Mark Avery in his Standing up for nature blog, comments on Jim Dixon the Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park’s writing in Saturday morning’s Times newspaper that “…a bird that has a proven disruptive influence on wild grouse exists uneasily with raising large bags of grouse for sport. The naturalists will be angry tomorrow, but it’s hard to see anger doing any practical good for hen harriers. Enlightened moorland owners and a new generation of keepers who show respect for nature hold the future of this special bird in their hands‘” as being presumptious and suggestive of an “unnecessarily understanding of the criminal activities that have reduced hen harriers to such low numbers in the English uplands, and unnecessarily dismissive of the views of the people whose taxes pay for the National Park activities.”  As Avery further mentions, Dixon’s comment must surely be in a personal capacity?  One thing is for sure …. the epetition signatures slowly creep towards the target 100,000 today there are 13,487 a significant increase on the last day or so.

 

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BADGERING MATTERS?

Sadly to stay on the topic of animal persecution …. Paterson departed calling environmentalists “Green blobs” but it seems that his successor Liz Truss MP is carrying on the ConDem persecution of badgers regardless.  The Badger Trust are appealing to people to support and join us for the Colchester March Against The Badger Cull this Saturday, 16th August 2014.

This march is the last to be held before Badger Trust takes DEFRA to judicial review on 21st August and could also be the last before killing resumes in Somerset and Gloucestershire this year. As always, your attendance is extremely appreciated and important in making these events a success. Please bring family, friends, buggies, dogs, all welcome.

The organisers ask that everyone assemble at 1pm at Colchester Castle, Castle Park, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1TJ. Guest speakers include Dominic Dyer CEO of Badger Trust& Policy Advisor for Care For The Wild, Adrian Coward of Somerset Badger Group and Sarah Geller, Wildlife Campaigner.

colchester2

 

It’s not exactly on our doorstep, but it is a peaceful protest in support of protecting an iconic species of the quintissential English countryside.  If readers are unable to get then perhaps they could be persuaded to circulate the appeal and notification to their friends, family and network contacts.  Poor brock deserves fair hearing of robust science but there are those in power who seem to disguard what doesn’t suit their case?

Readers might be minded also to consider writing to their MPs, to the new Minister Liz Truss MP to ask for a rethink?

Hen Harriers and badgers, to see either or both are truly memorable and magical moments, they deserve a future.  Help us make sure that future generations too can experience those same magical moments.

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HEN HARRIER DAY

August 10, 2014

 

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For any reader unaware that today is Hen Harrier Day, then where have you been?

Despite the weather, a peaceful protest was scheduled to take place today in the Peak District, Lancashire and Northumberland.  It seems that many others took place in other parts of the country, so well done to all organisers and to those who showed their support by attending.

The Fairholmes Visitor Centre near the Derwent Dam was the meeting place for the Peak District photo call which took place at 10am this morning when around 250 people had signed up to take part.  See the image via Facebook and courtesy of Rare Bird Alert here.  This peaceful protest, against a sombre backdrop is intended to highlight to the press and to the moorland managers who might still persist in the illegal practice of raptor persecution.  Some great comments from the participants who braved the weather, well done to them all!

There are literally hundreds of comments to be read on Dr Mark Avery’s blog and many are testament to the pain of the industry targetted by the conservation consortium promoting awareness and pressure, but principly protection of raptors.  The term ‘grouse’ really does seem applicable, they have had years to get their house in order and still plead for time whilst taking the public funding for habitat management and failing to safeguard protected species.

The critical mass of NGOs are waking up and supporting the inspirational leadership demonstrated by Dr Mark Avery and Chris Packham, the number of signatures on Avery’s epetition is clearly growing and long may it do so with this last day or so seeing an increase of over 500.  In case any reader remains undecided then read the plethora of claim and counter claim, the media frenzy pushing out pleas by those whose failure to address the issue in any meaningful way is now being seen for what it is?  Then read the reasoned science and facts, then analse and then sign here?  Currently standing at 12,896 & increasing daily – next target 100,000 at which point it has to be discussed in the ‘House’, that is to say the one in the Westminster village.  Ban driven grouse shooting might receive a boost following the Thunderclap earlier and the press coverage of the HHD 2014, so here’s to the momentum continuing apace.

There may be inclement weather out there but clearly there is a climate change in terms of tolerance of illegal persecution, this is heartening and here’s hoping that politicians wake up to the issue of environmental issues ahead of the forthcoming 2015 General Election.  Even a Thunderclap has passed, social media at its best?  In terms of magnitude on the Richter scale of social media I wonder how it fared?

Birders Against Wildlife Crime is a new organisation which has been formed to raise the profile and highlight issues which need address. Their website is worth a look, so too the new one Raptors Alive accessed via Chris Packham has done much to raise the profile of wildlife crime, he raised the profile of the Malta Massacre on Migration issue, and an issue we featured on this blog a number of times.

Malta


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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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