Archive for News

BBC perspective on the hunters’ Ratner moment

We blogged yesterday on the own goal scored by the Countryside Alliance on the Politics Show South West at the weekend.

Their PR disaster continues with a devastating blog post by Martyn Oates, presenter of the programme.

The irony is that the “period of silence” they expected from us in the run up to the election appears to be the strategy their hopeless PR team are employing themselves. Hilarious!

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Royal Corgis go veggie to avoid hunt ban

Her Majesty the Queen has reportedly insisted that her pet Corgis are moved onto a vegetarian diet to make them less likely to chase foxes which stray into the grounds of Buckingham Palace and other royal palaces.

The Hunting Act 2004 made it a criminal offence to hunt a fox with dogs for ‘sport’ and whilst some politicians are promising a return to hunting, Her Majesty is thought to be keen to reflect public opinion on the matter by ensuring her own dogs don’t fall foul of the law. Opinion polling for organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports consistently shows that public opinion is strongly in favour of maintaining the hunting ban.

Renard Chasse, a spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports, welcomed the announcement, saying the Queen was leading the way as a responsible dog owner. “We have long said that if a member of the public allowed their pet dogs to rampage across the highway, people’s gardens, and farms, they would be prosecuted. But no-one challenges the hunts when their hounds rampage. It’s one law for them and one for the rest of us. We’re delighted to see the Queen leading from the front in this way.”

Buckingham Palace allegedly sought the advice of the Countryside Alliance on trail hunting, but they were unable to help.

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Wildlife crime officer wins international accolade

It was announced at the 15th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar, last week, that National Wildlife Crime Unit investigator Andy McWilliam (formerly Wildlife Crime Officer with Merseyside Police) has won the Clark R. Bavin Award. For several years, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a non-governmental organisation based in the United States, has presented awards to persons who have engaged in one or more exemplary law enforcement actions to protect species of wildlife listed in the Appendices of the Convention. The issuance of these awards has been undertaken in cooperation with the Species Survival Network, an international coalition of over eighty non-governmental organisations, including AWI. The awards, named after a former chief of the law enforcement division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have traditionally been presented by the Secretary-General of CITES during meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

Apart from his CITES work, Andy has worked tirelessly over the years to bring to justice people who have persecuted and abused birds and animals in the UK and this award is very richly deserved. Congratulations to Andy!

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League’s chair becomes QC

The Times reported on Friday that our chairman, barrister John Cooper, is to be appointed Queen’s Counsel later this month.

John is a fine barrister of many years experience, specialising in crime and human rights. He has also led prosecutions against defendants under the Hunting Act.

We are delighted for John and also for Gordon Nardell, another anti-hunting barrister who has done fine work for the League in the past.

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Parliamentary Briefing – February

Our monthly Parliamentary Briefing for February has been published. Topics include:
  • A new look for the League
  • Keep Cruelty History campaign
  • Debunking the hunters’ arguments
  • Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations
  • Majority of MLAs back a ban on snares
  • Scottish Parliament considers snaring petition
  • “Rock solid” support for Hunting Act as it reaches fifth anniversary

The Briefing is sent to all MPs, Peers, PPCs, AMs, MLAs and MSPs.

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Hunt condemned as three hounds killed in main road carnage

A Somerset hunt has been condemned as “grossly irresponsible” after three of their hounds were killed in a road traffic incident on the A303 near Tintinhull, north of Yeovil.

The Seavington Hunt had met at Ash, near Martock, Somerset on Saturday morning. Around midday, hounds belonging to the hunt ran across the trunk road, a busy route across the county.

Eye witnesses reported hearing a “dull thud” as the hounds were hit by vehicles, and that three hounds were killed.

A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said:

“That no-one was killed in this havoc is a miracle. The hunt are grossly irresponsible for allowing their hounds to go anywhere near a main road, especially if they were hunting a trail as they will undoubtedly claim. If they can’t control their hounds then they should stop going out until they learn that basic skill.”

The incident has been reported to Avon & Somerset Police who are investigating.

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League to launch major campaign against rabbit jumping

We’re only joking. But we’d certainly be interested in our supporter’s views on this story from yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. Make your views known by adding a comment!

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Countryside mismanagement

This week’s note from Douglas Batchelor, Chief Executive.

The hunters and the shooters have at least one thing in common and that is their claim to be managing the countryside and its wildlife. They make that claim without even pausing to wonder about the stunning arrogance of it and without the evidence to back up their claims in relation to national objectives that we the public are bought into.

The hunters and the shooters equate their misspent effort and money with management, and mistakenly claim to be managing the countryside on the nation’s behalf. It is worth looking more closely at their claims.

The week’s most glaring example of dysfunctional decision making with regard to countryside management are the badger cull trials in Wales. The science shows quite clearly that a badger cull that falls short of species extinction will make matters worse rather than better in relation to the transmission of tuberculosis (TB).

The effect of taking out badgers by culling is that the survivors move about more, either to exploit the vacant territories or possibly to escape from the area of the cull. The science also shows that as a consequence other animal populations, where there was previously territorial competition, will exploit the territorial changes. In particular there will be a radical increase in the fox populations.

At the same time as effort is being devoted to culling badgers in the mistaken belief that it will solve the problem of TB in cattle, the chances are that insufficient attention will be paid to dealing with the problems associated with cross contamination on farms and at markets. Only restrictions on livestock movements and contacts will cut down the spread of disease.

The tragedy is the refusal of the farming industry to accept that they are wrong in calling for a cull. And whilst all this is going on, the financial consequences of compensating farmers for the costs of culling infected cattle will fall on the taxpayer. This cannot continue: future policy proposals that farmers should pay the costs of their own compensation schemes may eventually lead to some changes of attitude.

Fox hunting is another such wasted resource and cruel enterprise. The science shows that years of misguided persecution of foxes has had minimal effect on the fox population. The Burns Inquiry showed that while farmers thought that the culling had a beneficial effect in reducing losses, the economic and scientific evidence did not back that up. Other research has shown that eliminating the fox population in a local area simply vacates fox territories and creates competition between incomers in the fox population, which can actually make matters worse rather than better.

Common sense dictates that if there isn’t much water in the well it doesn’t take many people to drink the well dry. With slow growing Caledonian pine it doesn’t take many grazing animals, be they small or large, to nibble off the succulent green shoots. Likewise with suitable trees for knocking the velvet off antlers, in a forest full of options some trees are going to be used for the purpose however many deer are out there. The only answer for regeneration of the forest is not culling, but fencing – either of enclosures or by protecting individual trees.

The reality with deer populations is that they rise and fall with the available feed and the condition of the female deer at conception and when the young are born. If populations are marginally reduced by culling, deer condition improves and more survive. The hunters and killers are actually increasing the population by their actions, albeit marginally. If the real objective was to minimise the deer population, they would stand aside and let the population resume its normal cyclical pattern of boom in numbers followed by starvation and bust. That is nature’s way of ensuring the long term survival of the fittest. Human meddling for sport and trophy hunting or ‘management’, just gets in the way of the Darwinian process of natural selection.

When it comes to looking at the population of hares and rabbits the same sort of scientific considerations apply. Habitat and feed provide the real population drivers. The absence of natural predators will also play its part in determining the population size.

With apologies to Pastor Martin Niemöller who famously spoke out against the Nazis:

First the farmers, the gamekeepers and the hunters came for the mice and the rats, but I didn’t speak out because I believed what the country folk said about them being a pest and them eating their grain.

Then they came for the stoats and the weasels that take game bird eggs because they said they were a pest too, but I didn’t speak out because I believed what they said about managing the countryside.

Then they came for the hares and the rabbits that the foxes and stoats had kept under control, because they said that they ate their grass and their cereals, and the young heather shoots that their grouse might otherwise eat, but I didn’t speak out because I believed what they said about pest control in the countryside.

Then they came for the foxes and the badgers because they said they were a pest as well and the countryside had to be managed to safeguard farm livestock, but I didn’t speak out because I believed what they said about countryside management and the need to control wild animal populations.

Then they came for the deer and the wild boar because they said they were a pest too and had to be controlled because of the damage that they did to the trees, but I didn’t speak out, because I believed what they said about pest control and wildlife management.

Then the countryside I used to love fell silent, there was no wildlife left to see, and because at last I spoke out, and because there was nothing else left for them to hunt and chase and kill for sport; they came for me.

There comes a time when all people who care must speak out, before it is too late! With an election looming which could lead to the clock being turned back to cruelty to animals for sport, now is the time to speak out and to make it clear that we don’t want that to happen.

Please don’t stay silent and let it all happen. Please get your friends and family working as hard as they can, pointing out the dangers to the nation’s wildlife and helping us to www.keepcrueltyhistory.com.

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Mayhem

We hope to be proved wrong, but it seems one of the impacts of the constant Countryside Alliance spin that the Hunting Act is about to be repealed is that the hunts are getting ever more cocky.

Today, the Daily Mail and The Sun are reporting on how hounds from the Worcestershire Hunt pursued a fox in a residential area in Droitwich. Now, we’re not suggesting that the Worcestershire Hunt intended to hunt the fox, but if you take a look at a satellite image of Rebekah Gardens, where the hounds ended up, you have to ask where the trail had been laid for them to go off the trail and end up there. Given the proximity of the M5, we should perhaps be thankful that they ended up where they did, and not on one of Britain’s busiest stretches of motorway.

Last week, hounds from the Beaufort Hunt ended up on the Great Western Mainline railway and six were killed by a high speed train. Passengers on the train spoke of a ‘grinding’ noise under the wheels, and the master, Mr Farquhar , in his apology, said that he’d not known anything like it in his 37 years of hunting. Presumably he’s forgotten the time his hounds pursued a fox across the M4 and a number of hounds were killed.

It’s certainly clear from the volume of calls to our Hunt Crimewatch line that the havoc and mayhem caused by hunts is getting worse. Hunters are sticking two fingers up to the public and to the law, and the Countryside Alliance are silent. Pathetic.

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David Taylor MP

Over the seasonal break we were very saddened to learn of the sudden death of David Taylor, the Member of Parliament for North West Leicestershire.

David was a stalwart defender of animal welfare and we were proud to have his support for our campaigns on hunting and greyhound welfare, amongst others.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Pam, and their four daughters.

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