Friday 20 August 2010

Mad mad world

What's going on? The Royal Society for the Promotion of Raptors is accused of gross mismanagement of one of its reserves. The Royal Society for the Intimidation of Pensioners has a bloke arrested and led off in handcuffs for killing a pest. (Sorry but I just can't take seriously any animal organisation that depicts a badger like this:)

Now it appears Britain is over-run with giant rats - and it's all the EU's fault.

The bonkers Douglas Batchelor of the League Against Posh People is offering the government advice on firearms control.

In other news, spokesmen from BASC and Countryside Alliance had a friendly discussion about who is doing the best job of protecting the interests of the shooting community:

Yes, the silly season is truly upon us. So I'm off to the Isle of Skye where I will be shooting, fishing, hillwalking, sailing and generally having a good time - mostly beyond the reach of mobile phones, internet, email and all that. Updates will be few and far between.

Oh, and don't even think about robbing the house while I'm away. My daughter's rugby-playing boyfriend will rip your limbs off.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

'Grim footage' shows antis clutching at straws

Animal rights nutters the League Against Cruel Sports are hoping to grab the 12th August headlines with another of their hysterical videos - this one claiming to show the "suffering" of game birds on commercial shoots.

Their press release, embargoed for midnight tonight, claims: "Grim footage, possibly the first of its kind to be released, shows game birds frantically flapping and struggling after being wounded by inaccurate shooters. This completely contradicts claims by the industry that most birds are killed outright and if not are immediately retrieved by gun dogs and dispatched. Our film shows a number of birds flailing wildly in obvious pain while shooters carry on, ignoring the suffering they have caused."

Not having seen the "grim footage", it's hard to comment, but the LACS appear unfamiliar with the concept of a clinically dead bird flapping and twitching. Still, they've never been the sort to let the facts get in the way of a good emotional rant.

Their chief freeloader exec, Douglas Batchelor, says "the pro shooting lobby will have a hard time defending their sport now."

Perhaps he'd like to try defending his meat-eating. A glance at his considerable bulk will reveal that he's not exactly starving to death. He eats for enjoyment, not survival. And that eating involves animals and birds "suffering" by his own definition (I bet some of them even flap a bit). And dying. Unnecessarily. Which makes him a screaming hypocrite. Or am I missing something?

UPDATE: ...and here's their video, which dismally fails to live up to the ludicrous claims they make for it. Birds are seen twitching their last on the ground, and quickly being gathered by well trained gundogs, while a tragic voice-over drones about 'suffering'. A hen pheasant which the commentary claims is wounded and has fallen onto a public road, transforms magically into a cock bird and is then collected by a labrador. And they're releasing this to coincide with the 12 August start of the grouse season. Do they even know what a grouse looks like?

Monday 9 August 2010

Do the RSPB's principles get in the way of doing a proper job?

'Gallowayfarm' who writes the excellent Working for Grouse blog has paid a visit to Geltsdale - and his comments make interesting reading.

"Birches and alders had been totally overgrown and killed by dense forests of ferns, and several young trees looked decidedly weak and ill, having been smothered by previous years of bracken growth," he writes.

"When compared to the hills around Teesdale, Geltsdale is utterly devoid of birds... It clearly is an excellent place to be a raptor, and it was hardly surprising to see that black grouse numbers were recently described as being less than a third of those found on neighbouring estates."

I'm sure there will be plenty of people telling me he's got it all wrong. But it's worth remembering, before we can judge the results of conservation work (or the lack of it) we need to decide what "success" will look like.

And whether you're a grouse keeper or the RSPB, it seems that predator control is a vital management tool.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Splashing about in the lake

Had a lovely family picnic today to celebrate my birthday. No good for fishing - after all this hot weather the fish are struggling, and in no mood to take a fly.

But we did have some fun doing a spot of training with the duck dummy I bought at the Game Fair recently.

Skye showed how it was done, and Bracken picked up the idea very quickly, bringing the plastic mallard back in fine style.

And then we ate loads of cake. Can't think of a nicer way to spend a birthday!

Saturday 7 August 2010

Urban fox hunting video was a spoof

Seems I was right - it was a spoof after all. Apparently it was all about showing up how awful foxhunting really is, and how the government shouldn't repeal the Hunting Act. Yeah right, not a bunch of smug media students who're ever so slightly scared at the response to their silly prank. Read the story at the Guardian here...

Oh, and when you've finished, check out this piece about the RSPB on the Telegraph website -Delingpole at his hilarious best... "Even GOD hates the RSPB, that’s how awful it is."

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Urban fox hunting video

The foxhunting debate is heading to the top of the news agenda once again - only this time it's urban foxes, and the 'hunters' are a gang of masked youths with cricket bats.

A group calling themselves the Urban Fox Hunters posted a video which appears to show a fox being drugged, chased, and battered to death.

Predictably, animal rights groups were outraged, and the video was pulled down from Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo and other hosting sites - but the internet is no place to try and put a cat (fox?) back in its bag. The group leader, 'Lone Horseman', continues to email copies of the video on request, and anyone can re-post the video faster than image-conscious sites can remove it.

Tabloids and the BBC picked up the story, and now we have fox-huggers offering a £1,000 reward for the identity of 'Lone Horseman'. The RSPCA investigations team are said to be studying the video "with a view to prosecution." More extreme groups are talking of taking the law into their own hands.

The saga is providing a fascinating insight into the British public's confused attitude to animals, something that 'Lone Horseman' seems determined to highlight with comments such as: "Let me ask you hippes one question.... a kid was stabbed round here a while back - no one batted an eyelid. Then we put down a filthy diseased pest and you all go effing balistic. Just look at yourselves!"

But is the whole thing an elaborate spoof? To me it has a distinct ring of Brass Eye about it. No doubt the truth will emerge in due course.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Fighting back on lead shot

Who said this:

“There is simply no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations that would require restricting or banning the use of traditional ammunition beyond current limitations, such as the scientifically based restriction on waterfowl hunting.”

BASC? The Countryside Alliance? The RSPB?

No, it's the American firearms industry, fighting back at the latest attacks on lead shot and bullets. I particularly like this line:

“Hunters and their ammunition have done more for wildlife than the CBD ever will. And the CBD’s scientifically baseless petition and endless lawsuits against state and federal wildlife managers certainly do not serve the wildlife that the organization claims to protect.”

Will the worm turn in the UK too? Time will tell.

Defra wants shooters' help

Here's a special message from Caroline Spelman, for BASC members. She wants our help to develop government policy on the natural environment:

I'd be more impressed if she hadn't filmed multiple versions of the same message, for members of RSPB, WWF, National Trust, NFU, Wildlife Trusts, Uncle Tom Cobley and all - but it's a start!

If you have a view on what government should be doing about the environment - well, they've asked the question, you've only yourself to blame if you don't tell 'em what you think.