Ralph Underhill cartoon

I’m pleased to announce that each Saturday the Standing up for Nature blog will now feature the work of talented cartoonist Ralph Underhill.  Feel free to comment and to suggest future subjects for Ralph’s pen.

 

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18 Replies to “Ralph Underhill cartoon”

  1. The Defra ‘hit list’ omitted the cull of the North West Raptor Group membership, who lost their hen harrier and peregrine licenses for use in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland where this group of experienced field workers had publicly highlighted extensive raptor persecution in this region. Significantly, peregrine licenses held by group members for use in Cumbria remained unaffected, as were licenses for a number of other raptor species in Lancashire, including the Forest of Bowland. The fact that all group members had previously refused to sign a confidentiality clause ensuring their records were kept from the public may had played a role in the removal of licenses held by the group.

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  2. Fascinated and not surprised by Terry's comment. The Government seem to have abandoned even the fainest pretense at freedom of information as mark ahs shown with Hen Harriers and we in Our Forests have experienced with the discussions between Government and NGOs ahead of the proposed forest sales. Failure to tell the truth leaves a nasty smell, regardless of whether there is anything to tell - the NGOs could set a precedent by publishing what Defra won't reveal over the forest sales - it won't be that painful and I for one understand that the Government sounded like it meant it at the time and they were only trying to salvage something from the wreckage (even if there was a bit of gain to the organisations involved on the side). There is the potential there to blow apart this devastating loss of democratic accountability and remover the excuses from, for example, the NFU exchanges over Badgers. The alternative, in accepting that these were 'internal' communications has dangerous ramifications for the environment.

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  3. As a member of the North West Raptor Group may I say Terry Pickford’s comments are accurate as far as they go. Losing my licence for use in the Forest of Bowland had more to do with reporting a number of clear breaches of licence conditions together with poor and inexcusable field etiquette undertaken by one particular licensed field worker. For example together with a colleague we witnessed a number of visits by this person to hen harrier sites either just as a nest was under construction, or just as eggs were being laid, a very critical period for any breeding raptor. On a second occasion after the same licensed individual had been asked not to visit a recently located ground nesting peregrine nest containing 4 freshly laid eggs, this sound advice was almost immediately disregarded. The nest visit which was then undertaken contary to the advice given was witnessed by one member of the NWRG together with a member of the public resulted in the pair of nesting peregrines being disturbed and kept from their nest for over one hour by a person who should have known better. Because the visit had not been coordinated the police were alerted only to find the licensee had been accompanied to the nest by his young grandson.

    Looking back on these events and how our subsequent reports were treated and then dismissed by Defra’s representative Natural England, I have to admit Natural England appeared more interested in covering up what had been reported rather than taking steps to ensure such inexcusable behaviour was not repeated. Having been advised of the uncoordinated and unnecessary peregrine nest visit, the peregrine coordinator requested the BTO to remove the name of the licensed individual from his licence which they did. Curiously within days the BTO had been instructed by Natural England to reinstate the licence.

    Shortly after the events outlined above and a number of additional incidents which both Terry Pickford and I have not provided had been reported, Natural England revoked peregrine and hen harrier permits for use within the Forest of Bowland which had been issued to the whole group for over 45 years. In the two years which have now elapsed since licenses were revoked, the Forest of Bowland has witnessed the extinction of all breeding hen harrier and a substantial reduction in numbers of occupied peregrine territories throughout this important upland region of Lancashire. I know the reason but does Natural England or Defra care?

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    1. Kevin - thank you for that carefully worded account. I knew nothing of this. If there are further comments on this subject then they will only be published if similarly carefully worded. Thank you.

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  4. Sam I was just starting the ball rolling with deer. I agree that their control is vital for a number of reasons. As part of my job I am imvolved with their control.

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  5. You may already be aware that I have a small hill farm in the Peak District, that I am a ‘hunting shooting and fishing man’ and that (since 1997) my ‘chosen subject’ is bTB (etc).

    The truth is that I probably know more factual information (the truth) on all aspects of this subject than anybody else that contributes to this blog.

    However - My chosen subject – it turns out – is a political one.

    The Left is ‘agin’ – the Right is ‘for’

    People like me have fought hard and long (13 years) dealing with politicians who mislead the public and impose their baseless opinions and constraints on Policy & Practice.

    Despite £ 0.5 million of damage being done by ‘agri-terrorists’ in just a few years during the ‘Trials’- only one person was arrested – but not charged (FoI).

    You must seek the Truth and let it be known to all

    The fact the Mark hasn’t heard of this above matter surprises me but – like me with my chosen subject – challenge him now to do something about it.

    I’m sure he will. He's on the case now!

    The boot appears to be on the other foot now but the (the Truth) needs to be told

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  6. Trimbush - I assume that means you object to the Government witholding it's correspondence with NFU over TB ?

    And are you for or against Hen Harriers ? As someone from the 'right' presumably for.

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  7. Roderick

    I believe I have published both here and elsewhere my 'opinion' of the NFU.

    The NFU is intellectually incompetent in much the same as is the Labour Party and anything discussed between DEFRA and the NFU I would expect to be no different. I am happy for ALL correspondence between the bodies to be put in the public domain.

    Any such correspondence will not change the fact that badgers are a reservoir of TB which is easily transmitted to cattle - indeed as Ben Bradshaw said in Parliament

    "Determination of the minimum infectious dose of Mycobacterium bovis in cattle is part of the TB pathogenesis research programme. Early indications are that the minimum infectious dose for cattle via the respiratory tract is relatively small; the lowest infectious dose recorded so far is 70 colony forming units (CPU) when introduced by the intracheal route or 9,600 CPU by the intranasal route.

    Relatively high levels of M. bovis in the urine of badgers with renal TB have been identified. Bacterial loads of up to 300,000 CPU per millilitre of urine have been measured. This suggests that inhalation of as little as 0.03 ml of the urine could result in infection."

    However the above 70 figure has just been reduced to 1 CPU by our own VLA unit.

    Its report state

    "In summary, we found that 1 CFU of M. bovis is sufficient to cause established tuberculous pathology in cattle. This pathology is identical to that resulting from significantly higher experimental doses (up to 1,000 CFU in this study) and reflects the pathology seen in naturally infected field reactor cattle. Cattle infected with 1 CFU that developed pathology exhibited strong positive responses to the diagnostic tuberculin skin test. Furthermore, the infectious dose of M. bovis had no bearing on the time taken to obtain a positive IFN-γ response in the animals that went on to develop pathology.
    Our data are in accord with very low numbers of bacilli transmitted aerogenously between cattle, potentially by nasal shedding. Comfortingly, the animals that do go on to develop pathology and therefore become a likely source of contamination within a herd can be detected at an early stage with the IFN-γ test and also provide a positive tuberculin skin test response."

    And Hen Harriers? Bloody lovely things - one of Mother Natures' true wonders - a brilliant example of evolution - a true Spitfire.

    And I'm sure this country can carry a few - but the RSPB - a charity? - is owned and run by a funny lot who believe might is right and can't seem to get along with those that live, work and play in the countryside

    Yes - let's hear it for the HH - what's your business model? - how are you going to market it? within the framework of say the RSPB's ignorance / stance on Badger TB?

    I suspect you have no chance al all.

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  8. Reading the comments Terry Pickford and Kevin Moore have provided only confirms what I am hearing. There are now serious issues in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland, not least the loss of breeding hen harrier as well as the disappearance of so many peregrine falcons from this important moorland region. Can this situation really be just down to a coincidence in the aftermath of the removal by Natural England of licenses used to monitor breeding birds of prey in Bowland? The confiscation of licenses from a small group of dedicated individuals with unquestionable experience and credability without any tangible evidence of wrong doing, in my view was not only unjust it was inexcusable making a bad situation much worst.

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    1. Tom - thank you for your comment which I have drastically edited (I have posted your first of three paragraphs). This isn't because it wasn't interesting (it was) nor because it wasn't relevant (it was) but because I have no way of knowing whether the things you say are true or not (I'm not saying that they aren't - just that I don't know) and if they were not to be true then I can see them leading to both you and me getting into trouble.

      If there is some way to write about raptors in the Trough of Bowland in a way that won't get this blog into legal difficulties then I'd consider hosting a Guest Blog. However, I know that emotions run high, and I would be somewhat nervous about opening up a can of worms on this subject.

      I hope you liked the cartoon, though.

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