Giles Bradshaw owns a small farm near Exmoor. He campaigns for the law to be changed to allow for non-lethal dispersal of wildlife using dogs and for a wide-ranging ban on cruelty to wildlife.
A gamekeeper was recently prosecuted for breaking the Hunting Act
near Spalding. The court heard that he was found using terriers to flush foxes from their dens. Mr Bycroft’s actions were within the law except for one crucial aspect. He had written permission to flush the foxes and good reason to do so under the law. However he failed to kill the pregnant vixen but rather placed it in a small barrel in order to relocate it. He was fined £525 for not killing the fox.
Some time ago the hedgehogs of North Uist won a reprieve from being culled. They were found using dogs and then relocated to the mainland – if this had been in England the use of dogs would have meant they had to be shot. I face a similar problem when using my dogs on my farm in Devon. In order to prevent deer congregating and causing damage in areas I have coppiced, I patrol the area with my collie dogs. My advice from the police and the Government is that under the Hunting Act I am allowed to do this. However the deer must be shot as soon as possible.
I am writing this blog to try and persuade people that it’s wrong for the law to require wildlife to be killed in these circumstances and also for law enforcers to allow me to break it due to its utter idiocy. I’d be especially interested in hearing any comments from people who support the current legal situation.
The main organisations supporting the current legal situation are the RSPCA and The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). The argument for the deer I flush having to be shot was articulated by the Government with LACS and RSPCA support when I took it to court under the Human Rights Act. I felt that having to kill wildlife interfered with my peaceful enjoyment of my property. They countered by saying it was necessary to prevent my dogs chasing and killing the deer.
My dogs have never, and could never, kill a deer, wild deer quickly outrun them. Even if they were capable of such a feat there would be other more humane ways to prevent the deer being killed than killing them. One could call them off or flush the deer with the dogs on a lead. I have never killed a deer in my life. I have no gun.
What makes matters worse is that deer come in herds. When LACS prosecuted the Quantock Staghounds in 2007 the judge ruled that they should have had enough guns to kill the entire herd if one were present in the woods. This ruling does conform to the twisted logic behind the law because shooting just one or even nine out of ten deer would be an ineffective way of preventing the remaining deer from being chased. I am not against all killing of wildlife but to me gunning down a herd of running deer is cruel and barbaric in the extreme because there is a high wounding risk. If one waits till the herd is standing still before taking them out then the dogs clearly won’t be chasing them any more so it is even more stupid.
I greatly enjoy what I do, I live on my farm and feel I should be allowed to carry on as long as I am not harming wildlife. To comply with the law I would have to go to great trouble and expense in hiring expert marksmen and it would turn a peaceful activity conducted in harmony with nature into a heart wrenching bloodbath. In a word it would be cruel.
To me the Hunting Act is a deeply flawed piece of legislation because it fails to discriminate between non cruel and cruel activities. What makes an activity cruel is not whether dogs are involved or not but whether undue suffering is caused. People should have a legal duty not to be cruel when they conduct their business and this requirement should apply to hunts, farmers and conservation bodies alike.
There’s a simple way to achieve this and that is to define cruelty and make causing it illegal in any way without exception. This is precisely what a law proposed by the Labour Lord Donoughue seeks to do. Whatever the future of the Hunting Act I feel that the idea of banning all deliberate cruelty to wildlife should unite, not divide, all bodies involved in wildlife issues from the Countryside Alliance through the RSPB to the RSPCA and LACS.
88 Replies to “Guest Blog Don’t shoot! – by Giles Bradshaw.”
Giles – this is a subject which I don’t know much about so I would be interested to see whether your opinions are challenged here. Thank you for your blog.
I wonder if ‘Emily Fox’ is the same ‘Emily Fox’ involved in the much hyped incident of foxy lady pushes old git off bike as reported in the Daily Fail (with nude photo included for no extra fee)?
Apparently some old f**t was obstructing heroic hunt monitors from filming horrific animal abuse (for the 5143th time) so a cart wheeling black clad superhero did the decent thing and pushed him off.
Last time I looked such activities were illegal – we can’t just shove people out of our way can we? Mmmm well that probably depends. Said cyclist was a ‘fox hunter’ and therefore fair game and the hunt sab looked rather pleasant in the video and that sells papers and therefore contributes to economic growth.
At the end of the day its up to the police and the CPS who is allowed to break the law and who sin;pt and IF Ms Fox has committed a crime then I am sure they will let her get away with it.
As for the evil Mr Bradshaw who refuses to slaughter herds of deer. The idea that this evil maniac should be allowed NOT to kill animals is clearly preposterous. The Hunting Act was a significant step forward for a civilized society and it is INTOLERABLE that anyone disobeying this wonderful law should be allowed to get away with it!
Mr hunt criminal Bradshaw’s ludicrous argument seems to be that the deer might hurt as they are ruthlessly MOWN DOWN in a hail of gunfire.
I have to say.. FOR @$£%’S SAKE MAN are you not aware that MILLIONS of young men were senselessly MOWN down in similar circumstances in two world wars in order to defend the RULE OF LAW. Are you seriously suggesting you are not prepared to sacrifice the ungulates on your land for such a noble purpose?
Mr Bradshaw is at bottom a wishy washy liberal. Yes getting shot might hurt his deer a bit but a5t the end of the day it’s GOOD FOR THEM. He comes out with all this nonsense about non lethal alternatives to killing FFS MR B —- KILL THEM ALL!!!!!!!
To paraphrase my late friend Mr J Stalin the only good deer is a dead deer. What the @@@@ do these antlered prima donnas think they are doing prancing round our countryside, taking our jobs and eating our trees anyway? DEATH SOLVES ALL PROBLEMS – NO DEER NO CRUELTY.
To all those red deer stags out there – JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE A NICE PAIR – DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET SPARED!!!!
Imagine after all what might happen if Mr G did not slaughter all the wildlife on his farm. One of them might trip over and hurt themselves.
We have to obey the law (unless you are a black jump suited media super star) and Mr G B has to kill his deer. He needs to get over it and stop winging after all its not him that gets shot so what’s his problem?
STAND UP FOR THE RULE OF LAW!! ENFORCE THE BAN!
Todd – welcome and thank you for your comment.
Without getting drawn into the logic – or otherwise — underlying the Hunting Act [and the Hunting with Dogs(Scotland) Act], the principles of ensuring animal welfare should underpin all wildlife management actions. Swift, humane dispatch is not a welfare issue, but there are welfare considerations raised in translocation (or relocation) actions.
Roger – thank you.
Swift humane dispatch may not be a welfare issue however in reality that is not always what happens. Shooting running deer is one such case. Even when deer are at a standstill there is a risk of wounding them this risk is much higher with a moving animal. So in comparing relocation to lethal means we have to account for that. Also killing animals may have consequences for conservation. Another point is the effect on those carrying out the activity. I genuinely do not want to kill the deer.
I’d like to post a comment about this made by Joe Duckworth the chief exec of LACS on twitter
“@MarkAvery hi. GB has a bee in his bonnet and is a persistent troll to ACPO, CPS, us RSPCA. We now just ignore him.”
I think this comment is interesting because Joe campaigns for a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ for wildlife crime and yet he is admitting that in this instance he ignores it. In my opinion Joe does not actually think that the law makes any sense in my case.
There was an account on twitter called @LACSSecrets a while ago which purported to be a staff member. I think it probably was as they seemed to know all sorts of internal titbits. What @LACSSecrets said was interesting. They claimed that actually members of the committee agreed with me but any member of staff that criticised the Hunting act in any way would be sacked. If this is true LACS cannot pretend to engage in an adult debate while prohibiting themselves from saying what they think.
Do I have a bee in my bonnet about this? Yes I probably do. I happen to think that animal welfare and nature conservation and the law are extremely important issues which is why we need proper debate over them.
On the face of it, what you describe yourself doing in your woodland sounds perfectly inoccuous, Giles, and it is hard to se what welfare benefit could possibly ensue from you shooting the deer. Presumably, yours was a scenario that the legislators failed to envisage when the law was drafted.
It would be helpful if Joe Duckworth could come on here and explain why you are to be ignored. Is it because he thinks that your case is an irrelevant distraction that in reality is never going to lead to prosecution even if technically in breach of the law or does he think you are wrong and your deer should be shot every time your dogs put them up? If it is the latter, where should one draw the line between taking the dogs with you with the intention of shooing away the deer and just going for a walk with the dogs and inadvertantly disturbing the deer? Presumably no-one thinks that the deer in Richmond Park should have been shot when that Youtube dog chased them.
Giles, I read this article with some agreement that there are elements of the Hunting Act that are odd but having looked into it a bit further it would be to your benefit if you quoted the law as it stands.
The requirement when you are deliberately flushing an animal from underground is that you use no more than one dog. Surely if two people as in this case turn up with more dogs than the law allows, flush and or dig out that animal then confine it into a small barrel they have brought with them against another piece of legislation then they can quite rightly expect to be convicted.
The Hunting Act has been the subject of many people saying it cant work and then trying to prove that. This is no different to burglars trying to prove the Theft Act can’t work etc. If someone is caught in breach of legislation then they should expect to be properly dealt with and reading the case you quote I do think most people would agree.
Whether the Hunting Act needs amending to deal with some of its idiosyncrosy is another matter.
Hi Bob – I am assuming that they only put one terrier underground. The press article says that they only broke the law because they did not shoot the animal.
With regard to the use of a barrel that was found to be in breech of the animal welfare act which is a separate piece of legislation. The animal welfare act comes into play when unnecessary suffering is caused.
I was not actually intending to cast judgement on the rightness or wrongness of John Bycroft’s actions I merely intended to use it to illustrate the fact that the animal is required to be shot in these circumstances. My own case is slightly different as I flush deer above ground with collies. In this case two dogs can be used but the deer still have to be shot.
What I am suggesting is that in both cases where relocation is the aim then the animals should not have to be shot. From what I understand the Scottish Act allows for this.
Moreover in my view the law should impose a duty not to deliberately cause undue suffering and this duty should apply in all cases. There should be no right to be cruel.
Such a law would be an equivalent to the Animal Welfare Act but for wild mammals. We already have the Wild Mammals Protection Act which imposes such a duty however only in a tightly defined set of circumstances. In my view that law needs reform so that wilfully causing undue suffering in any way is made illegal.
LACS oppose this idea and their grounds for doing so are interesting. To quote Douglas Batchelor : ” The problem with that suggestion is that someone would actually have to be cruel to the animal before they could be charged with any offence.”
To continue with your Theft Act analogy arguing against cruelty being made illegal on the grounds that it would not criminalise people who were not actually being cruel is rather like arguing against the Theft Act because it does not criminalise people who haven’t stolen anything.
With respect to my own actions I think that whatever the welfare impact of my flushing deer the welfare impact of my flushing them and then shooting them is greater.
Giles – I haven’t posted your last comment because there is a danger of this turning into a conversation between you and LACS?RSPCA with only you saying anything. LACS and the RSPCA are fully entitled to ignore your comments and this blog – although i think it is a shame as you seem to be amking a more and more interesting and convincing a case but it is unchallenged. I’d like to hear their views but that’s up to them, of course.
Isn’t that where ‘going equipped’ comes into play?
The Crawley and Horsham hunt have been one of the few to be prosecuted to the hunting act! This could be just the start of the hunting act doing what it’s supposed to, now the police can be bothered to pursue evidence!
Alexander – welcome and thank you.
I’m not sure what the boundaries are here. If I walk my dog off the lead in the forest and she chases a deer, am I required to shoot the deer? I don’t have gun. Does this mean I can’t walk the dog?
If the intent is not to hunt an animal, what business is it of RSPCA or LACS, or any other paramilitary organisation? Is there no RSP of Coppice? Is Giles not allowed to exercise his dogs on his own land? What if he allowed, by paid permit, dogs to be exercised off-lead on designated areas of his farm, thus providing a public good – a circular walk, even – and at the same time diversifying his farm enterprise, albeit in a small way? The flushing of deer, rabbits, squirrels and any other green-shoot pest that might run away from the dogs would be incidental to the activity.
The Law is an ass. If my dog flushes an ass while walking in the forest, must I …
Hi Filbert. I had this conversation with defra some time ago intent does appear to be the key factor. They claimed that flushing out was hunting as the intention is to drive away or relocate the animal. i think many people assume that hunting involves an intent to kill however this is not the case as the Spalding case shows.
I’m not LACS or RSPCA, but I do work as a volunteer for a wildlife charity. Our experience is that whilst it would seem perfectly reasonable for you Giles to do as you do, the problem lies in the loophole it then opens for those people who are not intending to humanely kill an animal. We see a lot of lamping or use of running dogs to bring down animals (although badgers are more my area). The response is often ‘sorry about the dead badger / deer / hare, we were after rabbit’. As the law stands, if they have dogs and do not have permission from the landowner to be hunting ‘rabbits’ they can still be prosecuted. If that is not the case, there is no way of stopping these people unless you literally catch them allowing their dogs to tear apart an animal in the act. Make no mistake this is a prevalent pastime and they will literally chase anything down that they see. I think people with your attitude are somewhat thin on the ground unfortunately.
If they have permission to hunt rabbits no problem. Unless they are caught in the act hunting something else (very unlikely and difficult to prove).
It’s not perfect, and I take your point, but it seems to me that many laws are an attempt to prevent something negative from happening that is often complex, the only way to do that is to fit situations into boxes. Sadly that does mean that there are always incidences that do not fit.
Regarding the fox in a barrel, hunts are well known for breeding foxes and releasing them to hunt, and indeed for ‘cubbing’ – training hounds on fox cubs. That the fox was in a barrel and hadn’t been shot isn’t necessarily an indication that it would be happily released and trotting off down some country lane later in the day. Although I admit there is no proof of that – I suspect that’s partly why the law is so rigid.
The law is to me similar to the theft act, don’t go (equipped) on someone else’s property looking like you are going to take something. With running dogs, given our experience of the problem, I would prefer to keep things as they are. We know, we have the intelligence and we see the impact with our own eyes, if we cannot stop them from going out there with often specially bred cross-breeds, we cannot stop them at all.
Jo – thank you for making some excellent points here.
Hi Jo when you say you’d prefer we keep things the way they are are you saying that I should shoot the deer or that I should carry on and the various agencies should just ignore my crimes?
I can see your point about the law requiring the animals to be shot in order to prevent people being able to use their dogs to kill them however to me it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s illegal to use dogs to kill them so no condition in the law is going to prevent that as people will just break it.
With the current situation all I would have to do is go out with a gun and then ‘accidentally’ miss. No one could possibly prove that I’d not intended to shoot the deer. Or alternatively go out with a dog and pretend I’d accidentally flushed a deer out.
It is after all virtually impossible to prevent deer being flushed out when you take dogs into woods.
As far as hunts breeding foxes I am fairly sure what you refer to is the alleged use of artificial earths. I rather doubt that they would trap foxes and then breed them in captivity but I may be wrong.
Again though this would already be illegal under the Animal Welfare act as the fox would be ‘domesticated’.
I would suggest that you follow the law or don’t make a fuss about it. nothing you have said really addresses the issue I mentioned, to my satisfaction anyway. It is too easy to get away with the cruelty you say you are against already without taking away this legislation. What you suggest is to allow one person to flush deer humanely by changing the law to something which would make it easier for thousands to kill them inhumanely. It’s a numbers game for me. I notice the pro hunt lobby are out in force, surprises me you align yourself with them.
But following the law would cause considerable suffering to wildlife. I’m surprised you advocate that as an option. And as far as not making a fuss is concerned why not? Surely animal welfare, conservation and the law are important enough issues to make a fuss about?
Well done Giles for highlighting this problem with the Hunting Act and all credit to Mark for allowing this guest article on his blog. This is certainly not the only difficulty with the Hunting Act and more people should be urged to get hold of a copy and apply what it demands to reality. The list of unprincipled, illogical clauses the Act contains simply create technical offences rather than animal welfare based ones. The reason for this is that many of those who supported this legislation, both inside and outside parliament, had the banning of hunting as their prime aim, not a genuine improvement in animal welfare.
No surprise then that when practical problems occur, as indicated by Giles, the LACS, RSPCA and IFAW resort to ridicule or avoid a response. One would have thought that after the numerous previous anti-hunting bills, millions of pounds spent and hundreds of hours of parliamentary time they would at least have produced something almost workable.
Jim – welcome and thank you (and you are ex LACS and current Countryside Alliance I believe?)
Thank you Mark for enabling this debate. From my perspective the Hunting Act is self evidently a workable piece of legislation, however, that does not mean it is perfect. It does appear that Giles has a reasonable point and it deserves to be discussed. My hope is that as and when the legislation is reviewed his view will be taken into account.
From a policing perspective, there is clearly a duty to enforce the law of the land, however, as always the appropriate use of discretion is available to officers.
Richard – welcome and I much appreciate your comment, thank you.
Thanks very much for your comment Richard. For people’s information Richard was until recently the ACPO lead on wildlife crime.
You are correct that the police have a discretion whether or not to enforce the law in individual circumstances. However from what I understand where people openly flout the law as a protest CPS guidance is that they have a duty to act.
It was always an option for me to just carry on surreptitiously but I felt that would be wrong. I’m a great fan of Martin Luther King and there are two excellent quote from him that to me sums up the situation :
“One may well ask: How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
“The willingness to accept the penalty for breaking the unjust law is what makes civil disobedience a moral act and not merely an act of lawbreaking.”
So in short I believe I have not only the right but also a moral duty to openly flout the law in this manner so long as I accept the consequences.
Generally I am pretty law abiding and in a way I do this because I respect the law and think it matters.
Although I realise it was not your personal decision may I also thank the police through you for putting up with me and not taking any action. Although obviously I would have had to accept any penalty it was not my wish to receive one.
The only area where I would criticise the police is that in cases when they choose not to enforce the law they should be more open about why. To my mind this would help form a valuable feedback loop whereby parliament might be better able to improve legislation.
Oh and welcome back to Devon when you get here – I understand you are walking which seems a little mad but as some one who cycled from Lincolnshire to scotland, norway, sweden, denmark, germany and holland in order to get to – er Lincolnshire who am I to criticise! 🙂
“Sadly that does mean that there are always incidences that do not fit.”
An incidence of a farmer protecting crops (coppicing requires effort, it’s not natural regeneration) from depradation by unwanted grazing animals is hardly an unforseeable event, and to prevent him from doing so is disproportionate. There are other more appropriate sanctions against rural crime and trespass. Jim Barrington’s comments are spot on regarding the political intent of the Hunting Act.
Giles spot on as ever. The anomoly he highlights is one of the most ridiculous created by the Hunting Act but it is certainly not the only one. The fact that I can use a terrier below ground to kill a fox because which is eating pheasants, but not one which is eating lambs (or indeed avocets) is equally bizarre.
Given that no-one who approaches the subject with an open mind leaves with anything to say for the Hunting Act the question of what next is a very relevant one.
A law prohibithing the deliberate infliction of unecessary suffering on wild mammals (or wild animals) has been debated in Parliament in the past. There are some involved in wildlife management who are understandably concerned about the interpretation of such a law, but as a principle it is one I personally support.
As a past Chairman of the Countryside Alliance said if it is cruel we should not be doing it…and of course Lord Burns stated that there was no evidence that hunting is cruel. The important thing is that ‘cruelty’ is understood as a measure of comparative and in some cases necessary suffering, not as it is so often by the animal rights movement as a judgment on those involved in wildlife management, hunting, shooting etc.
Tim – welcome and thank you for your comment.
Giles —-think you have a unnecessary bee in your bonnet about this.
No prosecution is ever going to be taken against you for moving the deer away from your coppiced area but think you are just fighting to prove a point that the hunting people will exploit.Nothing wrong with the hunting law except as with all wildlife crime judges in same group as hunting people.
I think you are just trying it on as surely everyone else in your position fences to keep deer out ,after all lots of damage can be done to your trees in the night when presumably you are not on 24 hr guard.
You know full well it would look stupid for the authorities to prosecute you.
Dennis – that’s quite a feisty comment from you. Thank you.
Hi dennis you make an interesting point about deer fencing. In actual fact some of my woodland occasionally floods so it would be impractical. However also deer fencing completely excludes deer and this is not actually the effect that I want to achieve. I want to reduce their numbers and especially stop an entire herd congregating. Deer can actually do woodland a lot of good by opening up the under storey and slowing down coppice regeneration which creates a window for woodland butterflies. You might want to refer to Warren, M; Clarke, S and Currie, F. (2001) The Coppice for Butterflies Challenge: a targeted grant scheme for threatened species. British Wildlife 13(1) 21- 28. which suggests that without some grazing by deer the coppice canopy had reformed within three years which was not time for butterflies to become established.
By regularly visiting the woodland with my dogs I can gain a pretty good impression as to how many deer there are and what effect they are having. It’s a practice that works for me and something I get a lot of enjoyment from.
I could also dig out a BTCV manual on coppicing which suggests pretty much what I am talking about.
As far as the law not being enforced is concerned of course I welcome that. If it were I am not sure what i would do. However its worth mentioning that my activity was the subject of a case that went all the way through the UK courts and to Europe and the Government argued in court with the support of LACS and the RSPCA that the law as it applied to me was justified. I hardly think they would have done that if they thought it would make them look ‘stupid’ to enforce it unless they were being totally disingenuous.
Moreover and on a general point what the law is is important irrespective of whether it is enforced. It’s wrong in my view that my activities should be criminalised.
I think it is disgusting that the police are letting this man continue torturing and killing animals for fun. Until the law is properly enforced the hunters will continue laughing at us. However the recent Crawley and Horsham case shows that the tide may well be turning and that the likes of Giles Bradshaw will soon be behind bars. There is no place for this kind of activity in a modern society. It is pure unadulterated evil and must be rooted out.
Jamie – did you actually read the blog?
Hi Ian thanks for your suggestion but I won’t be doing that.
As I’ve already pointed out completely excluding the deer is not my aim. Also I object in principle to not being able to take my dogs anywhere I like on my own property unless by doing so I could be said to be causing undue suffering to animals. At the end of the day if I continue taking my dogs off the lead then they would still flush deer from time to time from the areas that I had not excluded them from. I see no reason why I should not continue to do this. They are my dogs and its my land and I am standing up for my rights as a landowner. I accept that I do not have a right to be cruel however I do not believe that the state has a right to prevent me doing what I do without reason.
Giles. By following traditional methods you don’t exclude any wildlife from your wood! Just protect individual coppiced stools!!!! It seems to me that your example of protecting your coppice doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny and what you really need is closer control of your dogs!
Ian – welcome and thank you for your comment.
Hi Ian – why should I have to control my dogs more closely? They live outside all the time and are never locked up (except v occasionally when pony club is here) and when I go round my property they come with me. I don’t generally see that there is any need for me to control them at all. Having said that Collies are very biddable dogs and I can make them stop and turn round towards me with a single command. I just don’t very often see the need to.
And I’d be interested to know why you think that dispersal and deterrence is not a useful or valid method of protecting coppice stools? Yes I am sure there are alternatives but this seems to work for me to the extent that I need it to so I don’t see the problem.
I think we should be adopting non lethal deterrence when practicable.
Hi Mark,had to laugh as you called my comment feisty,probably correctly but had to wonder what you called Jamie’s,lol,not David Cs version.
Dennis – that made me laugh too!
Hi Giles. You mention the case of the fox dug out and put in a barrell by a hunt. What do you think is likely to happen to the fox during the dig out, when hunt terrier(s) confront it underground?
I was under the impression that hunts claimed to be a pest control service, not a relocation service for animals regarded as troublesome.
Thanks Mark for hosting this interesting debate.
Paul – welcome and thank you.
Hi Paul, Presumably the fox would not be particularly happy about it which is why it would attempt to bolt. The law allows for only one terrier and I think there are also regulations re the use of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ terriers but I’m no expert on the subject. However given the two options of subsequently being relocated or getting a bullet in the head I would imagine it would choose the former if it could reason as we do.
The deer I flush would probably also rather we were not there which is precisely why they seek to go somewhere else when we are. Again I reckon that they’d rather be allowed to relocate themselves rather than getting shot.
It’s worth remembering that the Hunting Act allows for a terrier to flush a fox – to protect game birds so they can be killed for sport (but not scarce wildlife). One assumes the law is attempting to draw a dividing line between cruel and non cruel actions and considers whatever suffering the fox experiences by being flushed to be offset by the benefit in protecting game birds so people can kill them for sport. The law does not consider the protection of rare birds to be such a worth while goal.
Another case where I think I am right in saying that a terrier cannot be used is when a nursing victim has been shot. In this instance her cubs will starve to death.
From what I understand the law allows for the use of a terrier because it is often the only practicable means of getting a fox out of an earth.
However having got the fox out of the earth and into a net or the deer out of a wood what is the point of having to shoot it? I really don’t get it. Surely most people would want there to be a legal option to relocate the animals concerned if this could be done in a humane manner?
As far as hunts as a relocation service is concerned firstly the law affects far more than just hunts, most prosecutions under it are not of hunts and non of the cases involved a hunt with hounds although I believe it said that John Bycroft had something to do with a hunt.
Also pre ban the stag hound packs did disperse deer from people’s property and this is a form of relocation. I’d actually quite like them to do this for me now and again and not kill anything.
“Jamie – did you actually read the blog?”
“Of course i red the blog, why else do you think I am commenting on it.”
Obviously red (sic) it, but equally obviously comprehended none of it. Which of (Giles Bradshaw’s) views are abhorrent, and in what way has he been “torturing and killing animals for fun”?
Mark —-think having known you longer than most in a way I often have to grin at some of the things you are accused of being and in my opinion almost all of them are way off the mark.(no pun intended)
Think it is good you rarely show any signs of being offended and in my view my thoughts on you are that you are a brilliant conservationist that wildlife desperately needs to help it survive and someone who allows anyone to express their views even if absolutely opposite to yours and reply’s if necessary with a hint of humour.
Long may you continue as people like you who are prepared to stand up for what you believe in are in short supply.
Dannis – v kind of you.
I personally believe that Mr Bradshaws method of keeping deer from doing damage (to what/how I am unsure, perhaps saplings?) sounds on the face of it like a humane way. Obviously if the deer were to be chased for extended periods of time, or chased into dangerous territory such as busy roads/ to wire fences that they couldnt clear, then causing unnecessary stress/potential injury to those deer would be a concern of mine. Equally, it could be argued that deer could get spooked by a few ramblers with their dogs and end up in a similar situation.
The key here is intention, the law that exists prevents a man or woman encouraging a pack of dogs onto prey to then be hunted for a time, and this law is effective in that the hunts don’t see much fun in simply shooting something, they want to chase it for as long as possible, over a great distance, and the challenge comes with the different terrain/obstacles that the animal might lead them through.
Having a law that sets out to prevent this from happening is no bad thing, the only shame is that this law is often ignored, hugely flawed, and difficult to enforce.
One can only hope that generation after generation the fact that hunting foxes, deer, hare and mink is illegal will sink in, and the enthusiasm for criminal activities like this will decline and a dim view will hopefully be taken on those who break it.
I also hope that the current law changes and prevents activities like digging out, hunting with birds of prey, and using “long” dogs.
Emily – welcome, and many thanks for your comment.
Thanks very much for your comment Emily I understand you’re keen anti hunt activist and I very much welcome your recognition that what I do may be humane.
The only thing I would say is that if you do go out sabbing try and stick to the law with regards to other road users 😉
“stick to the law with regards to other road users”
And remember to keep your clothes on while you assault them
The hunting ban was brought in to stop the extreme animal cruelty that follows when hounds give chase to the fox or deer or other persecuted animal, the law works when enforced and the aspect of preventing flushing out is very clear. The concept of flushing out animals and then given chase is a clear distinction in law that hunting is occurring. Law needs certainty and this makes it quite clear.
The notion that somebody who truly stumbles across a fox or deer while walking their dogs would be required to shoot them is factious and simply not the case. The law is more than able to determine the reasons why an incident took place. Common sense easily determines who is seeking deliberate cruelty from those just out and about. And the key is the dogs would still have to give chase so it’s not a difficult law for people to follow or understand.
Giles has a long history of casting doubt on the ban in this way, but if he was ever successful it would have meant the ban being scrapped so his concerns are not as clear as he likes to imply. The way to deal with the issue as he points out is through alternatives that do not include flushing in the first place, be it fencing or traditional non lethal methods to prevent the deer on his land. His claim he must flush deer is just simply not the case and he has always ignored alternatives when suggested to him and instead focused only on flushing out.
True animal campaigners would not call for the ban to be scrapped but made stronger so it’s important to consider your views as to why Giles only talks of flushing out and not of making the wording of the law stronger? In the twenty years I have been involved in every aspect of the hunting ban politically at all levels I have see no justification at all for calling it an unworkable piece of legislation and its fantasy to suggest it.
Law takes many years to bed in and it can be a long and hard slog, but precedent is set with every court case and the recent successes prove the ban is viable and enforceable. The hunting lobby will poor scorn wherever they can but it is the courts who decide and it’s a lot harder to attack them then attack a political party.
The issue of flushing out is not an issue in the way Giles makes out, it is there to capture those with deliberate intent on killing for fun and it makes it crystal clear when a hunt is hunting. Ideally what needs to happen is for hunts to be stripped fully of their ability to flush out and for them to switch to bloodhounds instead of foxhounds. Do that and it then would be true drag hunting and gone would be the false claims to say they accidently hunted while trail hunting? There are no such accidents in true drag hunts as the dogs were never bread to kill in the first place and no fox has ever been killed as a result by bloodhounds.
The hunting lobby are terrified of them being stopped from trail hunting as they know full well it would end all aspects of illegal hunting in one go. I run a political animal lobby which promote ending trail hunting and hope to encourage all animal groups to follow suit. If hunts do not switch to full drag hunting then they should be forced to disband and the public would support such a move.
Giles may talk of not wanting to shoot deer, but all the while he ignores safe alternatives to preventing deer on his land so it cast doubt fully on his commitment on this issue. Despite over four years of Giles pushing his view I am glad to say it has achieved little and rightly so. True animal welfare comes from ridding the countryside of bloodsport. No matter the wording of the law you cannot allow one of the vilest acts towards our wildlife to continue while using as cover an issue which seems to have one aim only and that is to undermine the hunting act.
The hunting ban shout’s out loud and clear a principle and its one that says those who break the hunting act are criminals. There are no special exemptions to imply that those who call themselves freedom fighters can ignore the law. If those who partake in hunts do not want to fall foul of the law it is quite simple, do not seek to break it.
For those who are really just out walking with their dogs then there is nothing to fear, but those who seek to flush with more sinister motives should be aware that the law is not going away and such intention has nothing to do with any exemption the law provides. The ban is here to stay and one day the wording will be revised and change if needed, but at present its not the wording of the law which has been the problem but the attitude of the police who have dragged their feet for far too long and that of the hunters who think they never have to obey the law. Such attitudes will have no choice but change because society wants the ban to stay.
Animal welfare is vital, important and part and parcel of the fabric of society as a whole, the excuses why the hunts should not follow the ban have been many but all have been groundless. Burglary still takes place but you do not here calls for the law to be scrapped so why is it right for the hunting ban?
Jim Barrington also has added to this thread yet for over a decade he had given his support to the bloodsport lobby while trading on his onetime connection to LACS. Well that was a hell of a long time ago now and the Countryside Alliance have but one aim and that’s killing for fun, Jim backs them so just as I doubt Giles I also cast doubt anyone who can claim to talk welfare of animals while promoting bloodsport!
I see this issue Giles raises as a side issue that distracts from the vitally important principle that the hunting ban enables, having it placed in law that nobody has a right to partake in bloodsport for fun is one we must always defend. Aspects of law will throw up anomalies but you do not solve them by undermining the whole hunting ban and calling for it to be scrapped. I’m focused on one aspect only at present and that’s preventing the hunting lobby and David Cameron from repealing the hunting ban as that will have a far bigger impact for animal welfare than anything Giles can say.
Gary – welcome and thank you very much for your comment.
Spot on, Gary.
Hi Gary, thanks a lot for your post I very much welcome debate on this issue and I am glad to see you are prepared to represent yourself in a way that LACs and the RSPCA refuse. I’d like to respond to a few of your points.
With regard to the clarity of the law around flushing out it’s interesting that Defra advised me first that it would be legal for me to flush and chase away wild deer, they then changed their mind and stated it was illegal. More recently they wrote to my MP Nick Harvey stating that the law was uncertain However the police are clear that what I do is illegal.
None of this indicates to me that the law is clear although it maybe that Defra’s prevarication is caused by the fact that it is extremely hard to justify the law as it stands.
It’s worth quoting a judge on it may be worth quoting Judge Cottle in a 2007 ruling : “It seems to us that any given set of facts may be susceptible to differing interpretations. The result is an unhappy state of affairs which leaves all those involved in a position of uncertainty.”
Wit regard to someone who accidentally stumbles across a wild deer which runs away this is not what I do. I deliberately stumble across wild deer which run away. However from an animal welfare point of view the two situations are identical.
You also say that I should use traditional non lethal means of deer management. I do. There is a long tradition in the west country of the use of dogs to disperse deer. There is also a long tradition of the use of dogs to protect livestock and crops from wildlife. By using farm collies I ensure that no deer will be killed.
You also acknowledge that one day the wording of the law will be reviewed and revised. It seems to me from this that you are acknowledging as I do that the current wording is flawed. In fact many people both pro anti and in between on the hunting issue feel this to be the case so in my view there clearly needs to be a debate on how to improve the law. We may not agree on how the law should be improved but proper constructive debate is the hallmark of a civilized society. The Hunting Act recognises that there is a place for the use of dogs in wildlife management however I do not believe that it currently draws a correct line between cruel and non cruel activities. Nor it appears do you.
In this regard I and others have put forward the idea of a law that that makes all willful cruelty to any wild mammal in any way illegal. Such a law would enshrine the principal in law that there is no right to be cruel. It could run along side the Hunting Act if the Hunting Act was never repealed. I would be very interested in your views on the principle that there should be no right to be cruel.
Lastly with regard to it being a side issue. It isn’t for me. I believe passionately in my right to manage my property in an ecologically sound and humane manner. I should have the right not to kill animals in these circumstances. I actually think that most people including yourself probably agree with that. The law makes it illegal for me to use a traditional non lethal means to disperse wild deer from my land unless I then shoot them all. In your heart I believe that you know as well as I do that this is wrong. I actually love my dogs and the wildlife on my farm. Maybe Gary you could visit one day and I will demonstrate to you how collies can be used to manage deer in a humane manner. You would be very welcome.
I think that we both know the current law is flawed. The only way to rectify this would be for parliament to revisit it and for there to be a vote on the issue.
In the mean time I hope you will also lend your support to the idea of making all willful cruelty to wild mammals illegal.
Giles what i do not understand is why you informed the police in the first place that you were driving out deer from a coppiced woodland . Maybe you are wanting to get involved in controversy !
David – I think I understand why, and I think Giles explained it. I think he highlights what he is doing as a campaigner to draw attention to what he regards as an unjust law – and the fact that he is prepared to take the consequences is admirable (whether or not one agrees with his views).
Giles, I raised the issue of digging out in the context of your example of the hunt putting the fox in the barrel because it does give us a strong indication of the intent of the terriermen. I suggest that if, as they claim, they wanted to ‘relocate’ the fox because they felt squeamish about killing it, they wouldn’t be using terriers in the first place. Everyone knows terriers are tenacious dogs, and in the confines of an underground tunnel are unlikely to hold back. In fact they are completely out of the control of anyone until terrier men dig down to them.
If they had no qualms about using terriers to bait the fox while digging down to it, why would they have concerns about shooting it? They routinely do it to other foxes so why the sudden change of heart?
A far more probable scenario is future release for the hunt to have more sport. As a result, this example isn’t really applicable to your argument about using dogs to disperse, or relocate, animals regarded as troublesome. However, it does demonstrate how imaginative these people are in attempting to cover up their activities.
Hi Paul all that may have been the case but the court did not find it to be the case and whether or not it was the case was not relevant to Bycroft’s guilt.. Keeping the fox in captivity and then releasing it later to be hunted would be highly illegal and in my view rightly so. Shooting the fox would be legal. Another alleged activity is digging out foxes and throwing them to the hounds. That is in my view clearly wrong and is and should be illegal. However humane release or relocation it would have been illegal in my view wrongly. I am not trying to make an argument about John Bycroft about whom I know very little. I am trying to make a point about the law and Bycroft’s case illustrates and confirms what the law is so it is clearly relevant.
As far as terrier work is concerned the Hunting Act lays down circumstances in which it is allowed. presumably because parliament decided it can be humane.
Comment on twitter from a barrister @For_the_defence
“@GilesBradshaw I’ve now read all this. I’m not convinced that an offence even took place, did RSPCA prosecute or CPS?”
This is especially interesting and I’m hoping he will elaborate. If it really isn’t illegal for people to take dogs out to search for flush out and chase wild deer then the Hunting Act really would appear to be a bit of a shambles.
I would be surprised if there is no law to stop them upsetting the Seals that causes mortality as it is similar to people photographing Sea Eagles near their nests and causing the birds to leave the nest for long enough for the eggs to get chilled and for sure there have been prosecutions for that on the Isle Of Mull fairly recently.
Every law is going to have a loophole that someone will find especially a relatively new one and I think Giles is fighting for fightings sake.Any change in the cruelty law needs to make it more enforceable.
Be careful Giles Collie dogs are quite capable of catching and killing Sika Deer so if you get some of them in your area you could run into trouble and of course something that looked like a collie with 25% greyhound in it and feel sure people would swear it was a collie would certainly catch Deer.
You just want to open a big can of worms and the evidence is that you have not been prosecuted.My guess is you are desperately asking them to prosecute you so you can prove a point.
I don;t know about a law protecting wild seals from photographers – maybe there is one. However the point I was trying to make is that we can be willfully cruel to wildlife in an almost infinite number of ways. Why not make them all illegal?
I very much doubt my dogs have any greyhound in them and I personally very much doubt they would kill a deer in any context. If I thought there was any possibility of that I would call them off.
They live free in the yard and we have sheep and lambs – they never kill any of them.
As far as being prosecuted is concerned. I’d really rather not be actually and I’ve discussed my activities with the police who have told me that to do so would not be in the public interest so I don’t think there is any chance of that.
Giles—-you are a joke,you are obviously well educated and guess you enjoyed a expensive good education and you should use it for something useful.
You seem to want to drive a bus through the hunting law and make a loophole for I guess your friends.
All hunting has to be cruel and I promise you if I chased you for a few miles with 5 Pit Bulls that were handicapped so they could only run at same speed as you then you would *hit yourself with fright.
While you are messing about with the police they have less time for stopping crime.
You are certainly old enough to know better.
I’m glad you take amusement from it and me. Fun is half the point.
I do use my education to good purpose – supporting my family.
If you were an extremely timid but athletic person who encountered two dogs in a wood and ran out of it into a field thus easily evading them which would you prefer – a line of guns to shoot you – or to continue your life? I’d go for the former.
This is an interesting issue. It is of course not unusual for new laws to have unintended consequences. Law at its best defines what is and what is not morally acceptable and makes an acceptable balance between the rights of all involved.
You say “They are my dogs and its my land and I am standing up for my rights as a landowner.” There is nothing wrong with this of course, but an advocate for the deer might say “It’s the deer’s habitat and they have a right to peaceful enjoyment and not to be harassed and stressed by dogs”, there is nothing wrong with that either. Someone else might say “It’s my country, paid for with my taxes, it’s my right not to be disgusted by the behaviour of other people who live here” and another person, “It’s my right and my descendants’ right to live in a world where biodiversity is just as rich as it is now” – all perfectly valid points of view.
You are currently at liberty to let your dogs run free on your land even if they incidentally chase deer. However, you are correct that as the law stands you can only intentionally set (up to two) dogs to chase deer to conserve biodiversity, on condition that “reasonable steps are taken for the purpose of ensuring that as soon as possible after being found or flushed out the wild mammal is shot dead by a competent person”. Your position is that chasing deer out of woods with up to two dogs should be allowed without having to shoot the deer, because although it causes distress to the deer it contributes to conserving biodiversity, which is a public benefit. This activity could of course be enabled by an amendment to the clause that would allow deer not to be shot when the purpose of the flushing is “preventing or reducing serious damage which the wild mammal would otherwise cause to the biological diversity of an area”. The benefits of making this further exception must be weighed against the risk that it would create a loophole that would allow people to take with impunity actions that society find unacceptable.
So the actual benefits of chasing deer off coppice with dogs are a key part of the equation. There is no doubt that getting the right level of deer grazing on herbs and regrowth will create a habitat that is better for the specialist and rare species and will help to conserve biodiversity. It may seem to be common sense that chasing the deer out of the wood will reduce their grazing pressure in the wood. But disturbance of wildlife can have complicated effects. One might think that shooting crows reduces predation of wader chicks on grazing marsh, instead it destroys the territory system of the resident crows, allowing in murders of young crows that do much more predation that the former residents; similarly killing badgers causes greater dispersal of badgers, spreading their infections not suppressing them. I am not aware of any scientific evidence that flushing deer from woods with dogs is an effective habitat management tool, just because it is common sense does not mean that it holds in reality. Perhaps the dogs disrupt territories, preventing the establishment of a more stable and small population of resident deer and encouraging large herds of transient young deer? Also what happens to the deer, perhaps they just concentrate elsewhere creating over grazing in some areas and under grazing in others?
You say that “By regularly visiting the woodland with my dogs I can gain a pretty good impression as to how many deer there are and what effect they are having.” It sounds as if you are already interested in and alert to the changes that your attempt at managing grazing pressure is having. Why not take the next logical step and collect some data on the grazing behaviour of the deer and their impacts on vegetation structure, coppice regeneration, flower abundance and rare butterflies or other insects (if you have any). By comparing areas where you do and do not allow your dogs to flush the deer you should in a few years establish how effective a measure it is and what benefits to biodiversity conservation it can provide. It can then be better assessed as a habitat management tool as compared to fencing and protecting coppice stools. The benefits would then be able to be weighed against the risk and a better balance between the rights could be achieved.
Of course by taking this approach you would be hunting with “the purpose of or in connection with the observation or study of the wild mammal”. This form of exempt hunting does not require you to shoot the quarry, so you won’t be breaking the law anymore!
Everyone happy? Probably not, but it would be a step towards enlightenment.
Matt – many thanks!
Actually I’ve used up to five dogs but unfortunately only have two at present as three of them have died.
It certainly would be a very interesting subject for a scientific study although I am not sure my small farm would be large enough especially as the habitat is pretty varied so it would be hard to find a control.
I might discuss the matter with members of my local hunt. They would organise something on a larger scale as they have a lot of co operation from the local community.
As far as scientific evidence is concerned I know of one paper about the use of livestock herding dogs to manage deer in a slightly different context. it might not form conclusive evidence but it is quite interesting.
Have a google for LIVESTOCK HERDING DOGS: A UNIQUE APPLICATION FOR WILDLIFE DAMAGE MANAGEMENT
Roger A. Woodruff
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control
There is also an interesting study from the Yellowstone national -park in the US which suggests that in the presence of wolves deer behavior changes so that they avoid woodland edges and this improves the rate of woodland regeneration. This makes perfect sense to me.
As far as the right of deer on my property not to be distressed balanced against my rights of a landowner. I’d say that my activity is striking about the right balance and in any event a better balance than my flushing them out and then shooting them.
A further issue which I haven’t mentioned is one of safety. During the rutting season wild deer stags can become very dangerous. Surely I am much safer with my dogs than without them? Using dogs to move cattle is similar. Aggressive cattle tend to go for the dogs not me and the dogs are much better at evading them than I would be.
With regard to the valid comments made by Phil, I suspect the easiest way to interpret the issue of cruelty is the deliberate infliction of unnecessary suffering. Therefore someone who unintentionally caused some degree of suffering, perhaps through ignorance, cannot be ‘cruel’ in that sense. It may be that the matter of invading a sensitive area, albeit with an innocent reason to do so, could be addressed via a local by-law preventing access for a given period.
It is very sad to see the RSPCA running scared of questions that they find awkward. I know that some of the more sensible staff members would like to follow a wild mammals welfare bill route, but they have to deal with their council and they would appear to be absolutely blinkered in their support for a hunting ban…regardless of its consequences for the wild mammals concerned. Wonder what RSPCA founder Richard Martin would think, given that he was a foxhunter?
Wore my thumb skin off flicking through the comments. Some big names posting including ex CA folk or indeed presant CA folk. What this guy is doing is sucesfully through his own misguided ego driving a wedge between shooting folk and hunting folk. Now I like hunting and follow my local pack when I can.
Word of warning though ! If hunt folk dismiss my livelyhood for political gain I know what side I would rather drop like a red hot stone.
Giles is going to bring his side crashing through crass stupidity in the end !!
I’m not sure why you think that Andy. Nothing I am saying is against the proper management of wild deer by shooting.
To clarify I as a hunting, shooting person along with most of my ilk dismis the above blog post as an antis spoof. Pure left wing bile to upset the serious wildlife issues that face us all !!
The person (male or female) Bradshaw is a flook and in my personal view the whole post a sham.
Mark I didn’t think you would be pulled into this crap to be honest as it knocks credibility !!!
Giles you vent pure dung !! It’s evident in every sentance you write. Pure left wing bile !
That’s an interesting comment Andy – can you elaborate further on the connection between my views and socialism? It might be an angle worth pursuing.
I would confess never to have voted Tory and generally vote LD, I did used to vote labour though especially during my student days however I’ve never really thought this had much of a connection to left right politics.
I am not attacking shooting or hunting as you seem to think; I am campaigning FOR non lethal management where possible and desirable not AGAINST other forms of management. I am trying to be positive and think that all voices views and means are worthy of consideration.
As far as the ‘anti pro’ thing is concerned its a bit more complex than one might think as in my case it’s been ‘antis’ who have been against my right not to kill animals and some ‘pros’ – those seemingly not you who have been in favour of it.
I think most people who know anything about the hunting act think it s a piece of unworkable rubbish. It didn’t stop fox hunting on horses and just leads to stupid uses of it, such as in cases like yours, where you were trying to scare the wildlife off and NOT harm it.
Its academic anyway. The current government will almost certain get rid of the hunting ‘ban’ to continue its streak of winning green policies such as building an airport in the middle of an estuary internationally important for wintering birds, culling badgers, slashing the budget for Natural England and therefore National nature reserves and changing planning laws so developers can build on what little decent habitat is left.
Just read this from Hunt Monitor Chris Tasker :
” the staghunts – especially the quantock staghounds – have begun arming up to 10 quad riders with shotguns to shoot stags because they were done for failing to shoot immediately on flushing last year or so. the result, of course is chaos, with armed quads roaming the quantock hills – this is a cruel practice technically legal since the act says that farmers and landowners may shoot deer with shotguns if deer are damaging crops. for the staghounds to use this exemption”
I’ve ‘phoned Mark Randell at LACS about and he said it was ‘absolutely’ cruel. Maybe now they will start to acknowledge that this law is flawed. The QSH would be obeying the law (if Chris Tasker is telling the truth) however I am breaking it because I don’t kill animals.
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