I felt I’d been lax

To cut a long story short I’ve just joined the League Against Cruel Sports as a member.  This is largely because they have supported Hen Harrier Day and our e-petition so helpfully.

But there are some other reasons, too.

First, I have got such a lot of abuse from people on Twitter over this e-petition that it certainly doesn’t do anything other than nudge me into the LACS camp.  I’ve never been a member of LACS before, never seriously considered it before, but partly thanks to you, now I have.

Second, I used to think that LACS was full of nutters but looking at their website I see those nutters include revolutionaries such as Tom Conti, Colin Baker, Roy Hattersley, Sue Cook (you know – Woman’s Hour!), Baldrick (aka Sir Tony Robinson) and  Sir David Jason.  This looks as much like the ageing middle classes on the march as does the RSPB. I might even bring down the average age of the members a bit!  When I look at the website I see a lot I agree with, some things I don’t agree with, but not a bunch of nutters – they’ll do for me.

Third, the traditional wildlife NGOs are too quiet these days – I’m up for a bit more noise and a bit more activism. LACS seems like the closest you can get to ‘Greenpeace for wildlife’ and we need more of that.


Like I say, I don’t agree with everything that LACS says and does, but then that’s true of the political party I support too. That’s life.  I’ll see how I get on with them – maybe I won’t renew my membership in a year’s time.

LACS are at the Bird Fair each year, and I’ve spoken to them there over the years. Why not have a chat with them there – it’s not far away – just the other side of Hen Harrier Day and the Inglorious 12th.


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  1. Trimbush says:

    Green Blob

    The Act of a Desperate Man by Mark Nomates

    Looks like you should get a real job and meet some intelligent stimulating folk instead of growing inwards spending your days moaning all day

    Bloody Hell Mark - I think you will live to regret this move closer to Class War and Animal Rights! You will be judged by the people you mix with

    I'm truly shocked and disappointed - not good!


    And 'no' I didn't go to the Game Fair this year

  2. Paul V Irving says:

    mmmm, not sure Mark I need to find out more first. What quite clear isthat Trimbush doesn't rate them, so they should be OK. But on the other hand where does it leave those of us that still fish or shoot occasionally?

    • Trimbush says:

      Remember Baronsdown Exmoor? All those sick wild deer - it was a sanctuary that's for sure. Bloody disgrace!

      • Trimbush says:


      • giles says:

        It's hard not to see the situation in Baronsdown as cruelty. 107 dead deer in a year on 200 or so acres? And yet these people think people should "stand aside and let the population resume its normal cyclical pattern of boom in numbers followed by starvation and bust.". - surely that's both very bad deer management and very cruel?

        And why should I be made a criminal for the way I manage deer which does not involve any killing and does not result in massive overcrowding and a bTB hotspot?

        I can well see why so many people around me that have no views on hunting and don't participate in hunting despise LACS.

      • filbert cobb says:

        Odd that the RSPCA didn't prosecute

        • Keith Cowieson says:

          Filbert, Giles,

          Similar ethical discussion going on in the Netherlands with respect to the Oostvaardersplassen reserve (on a reclaimed polder in Flevoland not far east of Amsterdam) and the sometimes high levels of winter mortality of the introduced large herbivores there - Konik horses, Heck cattle and Red Deer.

          The controversy revolves around whether or not to allow large numbers of them to starve to death, whether to intervene and cull the weaker beasts or whether to supplementary feed and thereby artificially increase the carrying capacity of the area thus saving those that would naturally starve. See here - http://tinyurl.com/mjyrj99 - here - http://tinyurl.com/cotk5rz - and here - http://tinyurl.com/q8c7yso - for details.

          The reserve itself is well worth a visit (which has to be scheduled with the Dutch forestry ranger service) and much wildlife can be observed simply by driving along the reserve edges on the causeway and numerous dykes surrounding the area.

          • giles says:

            Yes I saw a video about that - utterly heartbreaking in my opinion although in other respects obviously a wonderful place. They need wild canines in there - although probably not enough area but they'd certainly mix it up a bit.

        • giles says:

          What for? Cruelty? It's not illegal to be cruel to wild mammals and the only people that want the law changed so that all cruelty to all animals is by definition illegal are - what's that term again? Ah yes The Hunt Scum.

  3. Gordon says:

    Not convinced sorry Mark.
    Your first argument is essentially 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' which I cannot agree with. Why not vote UKIP if you want the tories out then?
    Second, 'they're not mad' is hardly an endorsement.
    And third I don't believe they are a wildlife NGO at all.

  4. kie says:

    Well Mark, at least you've peeled back the veneer of impartiality, finally revealing what we suspected was hidden all along...

    • Mark says:

      kie - no I haven't, but I know you'll want to represent it like that. I'm not anti-shooting - but I am anti-driven grouse shooting - which must be obvious from the fact that I launched an e-petition almost two months ago seeking to have it banned!

      And, i didn't have to tell you or anyone else that I have joined LACS - I'll let you know when I join GWCT or BASC or the Moorland Ass.

  5. kie says:

    I know you'll want to represent it like that.

    Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, joins the 'look at me I'm a duck' party...

    I'm not anti-shooting

    Like joining the BNP and saying "I'm not a racist, I just agree with some of their policies"

    • Mark says:

      Kie - I should have said, your kind remarks on this blog have helped me make the decision to join LACS.

      But it is mostly their support for HHDay and my epetition.

      Walks like a Tom Conti, Tony Robinson, Sue Cook etc etc. All really nasty people according to you.

      • kie says:

        Ah, celebrity endorsement - You've sold it to me now Mark!

        I mean, if there's one thing we've learnt in this country, its that celebrities can always be trusted as the arbiters of morality...

        • Mark says:

          kie - that's, clearly, not what I said. But you seem to be caricaturing LACS as the Evil Empire so its worth looking at the empire's inhabitants. Of course, you may be a saint or a sinner hiding behind your anonymity in such an open way. Are you ashamed of your views?

          • kie says:

            "its worth looking at the empire's inhabitants"

            Do you really want to open that pandora's box Mark? The political wing of the Hunt Saboteurs Association?

            Where would you like to start - maybe Mike Huskisson, LACS press officer, undercover worker and consultant - imprisoned for grave desecration?

            Andrew Wasley, another LACS press officer - convicted anti vivisectionist: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1323132/Anti-hunt-press-officer-was-jailed-for-violence.html

            And thats before we begin to speak about bungs to the Labour party, or the charity commission doing them for political campaigning, or their campaign director being done for embezzlement

            so yeah, like you said Mark, its worth looking at the empire's inhabitants

          • giles says:

            reply to Kie's post - one could also mention [name deleted by Mark] not a nice man at all [large bit deleted by Mark] All one has to do is google his name.

            Note from Mark: Giles - you cannot expect me to check the details of every accusation you make about someone who is not related to this blog to avoid you, and, more importantly to me, me, being libellous. It's not very easy to do, and it's not really how I want to spend my time. I'm just not going to do it - so stop trying to make those points here. Go and make them somewhere else, please. Further attempts of this nature will simply be ignored - I won't spend my time on them. thank you.

          • giles says:

            Nothing libellous about mentioning people's known and established criminal convictions

          • Mark says:

            giles - I read what you wrote. You are wandering way off topic and you are imposing too high a burden on me to check whether there is any truth in what you claim. It's just not fair to me for you to do that.

  6. Alf King says:

    I joined LACS at last year's birdfair so I must be classified as another screaming anti-everything nutter in his mid 60's. The more I read the kind of comments against LACS on here the more I know that I did the right thing.

    They have a voice, which they use very sensibly, and the establishment hasn't cosied up to them in the way it has to some other wildlife organisations, so they don't feel compromised when they express their views.

    • Paul V Irving says:

      Kie might yet persuade me to join as I absolutely abhor hunting with dogs, am opposed to driven grouse shooting for the same reasons Mark is, and have no time for the views and attitudes of people like Kie.

  7. JQ says:

    Bringing up the past criminal convictions of members of an organisation is definitely not libellous. However stating publicly that people's businesses rely on criminal activity in order to damage them - unless you can actually prove that claim to a legal standard most definitely is.

    However noble their aims may or may not be there is no doubt that some very dubious characters have been involved with the League Against Cruel Sports.

    • Minna says:

      More than just a few "very dubious characters" have been involved with shooting and hunting activities; still are. Criminal types, some with convictions, some not.

      Our world is just not as bothered with crimes against the animal kind as they are against the human kind's businesses, properties and actions.

      Just saying.

      • JQ says:

        I'm sure there are but that wasn't the point I am making. Mr Avery is happy to deliberately try to damage the reputation and profitability of an entire industry by accusing it of relying on crime and yet he wants to cover up the convictions of people working for the League Against Cruel Sports because he claims to be worried about being sued for libel! The LACS are not going to sue Mark Avery for libel! The idea is preposterous.

        If people have committed serious offences involving violence and worse should LACS really be using them to spy on the public? This isn't just about individuals it's about the organisation itself.

        • Mark says:

          JQ - that's Dr Avery to you, please if you want to attempt formality.

          There is no doubt that an entire industry benefits from the illegal activity of some - Hen Harrier biology is more like soup than mashed potato (read previous blogs). The reputation of grouse shooting is severely damaged by these actions.

          I don't want to cover up the convictions of anyone - but they aren't really relevant to this blog. Also, the time it takes me to check whether allegations made by others are or aren't true is a burden I am unwilling to shoulder as a service to those who wish to make those comments here. Go somewhere else and do it. Write your own blog. Just don't expect me to publish them - and I have made the same decisions, once or twice, when editing comments about alleged misdeeds by particular shooting estates too.

          • giles says:

            Fair enough but I hope you read that press article I posted but which you didn't publish. There are loads more about it I could send you. You should be interested in what people from the organisation you are a member of get up to.

            Personally I find it hard to understand how the sort of people that are in and work for LACS isn't relevant to a blog that makes a claim about the sort of people that are in and work for LACS - but that's up to you. Maybe you should ask them about [name will be deleted to protect the guilty] and [name will be deleted to protect the guilty]?

            Note from Mark: this comment has not been edited.

        • Simon Weeds says:

          Hunters are criminal, murdering lowlife scum. It's as simple as that.

  8. Harebelly says:

    Their website does seem largely sensible (although I'm not so keen on the tone of their blog) but I support deer stalking and some other less intensive 'bloodsports' particularly when they directly benefit conservation. I've also done a bit of fishing and shooting in my time (not much!) and although I studied animal welfare to degree level LACS just doesn't fit me.

    Many will disagree with me and I can understand the view point of killing anything for any reason is horrible. But I fear that by publicly supporting LACS you will put off people like me, and certainly put off many moderate shooters etc from supporting/attending hen harrier day...and that seems a shame.

    • Mark says:

      Harebelly - that would be a shame. I am also a very long-term supporter of the RSPB - an organisation that is neutral on legitimate fieldsports. And a member of Cheltenham Racecourse - which wouldn't go down well with many LACS supporters. Everyone is a mixture, and there would be 63 million NGOS in the Uk if we could only join ones with which we entirely agreed. I can't say that this out pouring of venom against LACS has made me feel less inclined to renew my membership in about 360 days. We'll see.

      • kie says:

        Mark, I don't accept that we have witnessed an 'outpouring of venom' against LACS

        Rather pertinent and fair questions have been raised, not only about their policies with regards to wildlife management and animal welfare, (Baronsdown being a matter of record) but also about their longstanding direct association and connections with violent animal rights extremists. I cannot recommend James Barringtons blog enough as a primer into the world of LACS hypocrisy.

        Its not as if questions about the LACS are new or restricted to the hunting and shooting community. one only needs to look at the list of former senior LACS volunteers and staff who have left and been extensive and clear in their criticism of the direction of the organisation - Dick Course, Graham Sirl, Miles Cooper, James Barrington, Mark Halford, Liz White to name but a few - none can be accused of being pro hunting, what they had in common was the ability to see the wood for the trees, and beyond the intellectually vacuous, anthropomorphic analogies that are the staple diet of the animal rights world.

        As Graham Sirl wrote after he left: “After 13 years of discussing and debating this issue I found it impossible to ignore the truth and facts about hunting. I have come to despise the League Against Cruel Sports, even though I was its Chairman and Chief Executive, simply because these people know as well as I do that the abolition of hunting will not make any difference to the welfare of foxes, hares or deer.”

        you can't fail but wonder if the same indifference as to the true long term fate of upland birds in the light of a ban infects your own judgement Mark?

        In the meantime - Perhaps everybody needs to recall the old proverb says that 'you shall know a man by the company he keeps'...

        • giles says:

          Kie please remember this blog is partly about the good character of people in LACS and Mark has decreed that responding with examples of the bad character of people in LACS is 'wandering way off topic'.

          Note added by Mark: I have removed the next 400+ words of this comment.

    • giles says:

      I'm not against deer stalking but when I had people asking to do it here I wouldn't let them because of children making dens and also me walking around at all hours. That's one of the reason i think illegal non lethal methods are better.

      • Simon Weeds says:

        I don't suppose it's even occurred to Giles Bradshaw

        The rest of this comment has been deleted as the 'person' making it was using a false email address.

        • giles says:

          As long as I can do the crime without doing the time I don't really care Simon. Some laws are tailor made for breaking.

  9. Simon Weeds says:

    I think I should also mention that

    The rest of this comment has been deleted as the 'person' making it was using a false email address.

    • giles says:

      I really don't think such tit for tat violence is justified. That's what we have a police force for.

    • Ernest Moss says:


      What an appalling and utterly cretinous statement. You should be ashamed.

      • filbert cobb says:

        Check out their Farcebook page to appreciate the depth of hate-speak employed by the members of this execrable outfit

        • Harebelly says:

          Wow, just looked...loads of the comments are pretty vile and bonkers. I'll stick to the likes of 'RSPB Love Nature' Facebook page and charities like UFAW instead!

  10. Minna says:

    Somebody quoted the saying ''you shall know a man by the company he keeps"

    I'd rather keep company with (wo)men that oppose sports hunting and trophy hunting and vivisection than people that don't.

    But then, I am against hunting for fun. Where on godsgreenearth has it been stipulated that hunting is good, hunting is right?

    It's like "I'm not a feminist" (denying the advances made for society at large by feminist thinking); "I'm not against hunting per se"...

    I get it that it's about perspective. Some see hunting as an age-old right. Fair enough. Let there be hunting (as I am not a dictator and unfortunately cannot rule the world).

    But let it, at the minimum, be legal, preferably also ethical (whatever it's supposed to mean), and hopefully respectful (to nature and wildlife) and merciful.

    Meanwhile, we unfortunately need 'suspicious characters' like LACS and PETA and the Humane Society etc.

    For a hunting crime to actually get as far as prosecution, the evidence usually has to be quite serious.

    • giles says:

      "But let it, at the minimum, be legal, preferably also ethical (whatever it's supposed to mean), and hopefully respectful (to nature and wildlife) and merciful."

      Unfortunately because the Hunting Act is badly drafted those factors are not aligned.

      What is unethical, disrespectful or unmerciful about not wiping out herds of deer fleeing dogs with a line of guns? I really cannot see why that should be illegal. It's interesting that even Ivor Annetts has recently claimed this law has been sabotaged by the Tories. Surely in some specific circumstances it is right to break it.

      And what about animal rights? I am not an AR fanatic but surely a basic right that should be enshrined in law is protection from deliberate cruelty? The only reasons that LACS have for opposing this basic level of protection being granted to wild mammals are political not ethical.

      • Simon Weeds says:

        Ah thank God for

        The rest of this comment has been deleted as the 'person' making it was using a false email address.

      • Minna says:

        Don't get you Giles.

        I've said it before: in your case, the law seems to have been written in a way to have consequences that are blatantly wrong and your civic disobediance is, in my eyes, justified, and probably what I'd do.

        Do you need to shine your halo at every possible turn or what is your reason for attacking comments here almost regardless of what is said, and turn it into a step on your own warpath?

        When I say "let it be legal" I am referring to what one would hope is a well-written law that does not have stupid consequences, or that authorities at least read the law as it's meant.

        Anyways. I think you're doing more harm than good to your cause, but I might be wrong. I try not to rise to the bait again.

        What comes to animal rights - again this denial: "I'm not a fanatic"...

        Every field has its zealots. Declaring that one is not a zealot is strange. It's really for others to determine, and others always have their own perspectives. There's aye someone who sees others as fanatics.

        When it comes to basic rights, why not be a fanatic? I am.

        • giles says:

          I'm not intending to attack every comment but I do feel that equating the law and morality does need to be challenged. It's a deeply prejudiced and discriminatory view point. Where laws defining wildlife crime clearly have blatantly wrong consequences then that crime is not wrong at all.

          That's why I objected to your 'let it be legal' comment. I'd far rather more illegal hunting. Not all illegal hunting but illegal ethical hunting.

          If MPs and those who back the Hunting Act really and honestly thought that it makes sense for flushed animals to have to be shot then begrudgingly I'd obey the law. However I think it's pretty obvious that they don't.

          We don't have a society where politicians are particularly honest or principled in my view. In such a society with proper political engagement one would be able to simply ask ministers and other politicians if they agreed with a particular law and they'd tell you. It doesn't work like that as I am sure you know.

          As far as damaging my cause I'm not sure I have. My chief aim is to promote ethical wildlife crime with the assistance of the police, LACS, RSPCA, HSA &c. Obviously these organisations can be far more effective than me in encouraging more people to break the Hunting Act but maybe I can be a catalyst to some extent I think I have been quite successful in that. I know for a fact I have incited several people to flout the Hunting Act although alas not yet any hunts. One of my local hunts is very much 'sticking to it's guns' indeed they have told me they are actively using more guns and killing more wildlife because of the QSH ten gun ruling.

          As far as getting LACS, RSPCA, Labour MPs Mark Avery &c to adopt a position against wildlife having to be shot in these circumstances I think that's unlikely in the current political climate. There are very powerful political motivations behind the continuance of legally mandated wildlife slaughter. On both sides of the 'divide'. I am grateful however for people in the CA for supporting the right not to kill.

          However who knows things may change and the fact that many people (I believe) don't actually support foxes, hares and herds of wild deer being chased out of cover and then mercilessly gunned down might at some point in the future lead them to change their political position in order to align it to their principles.

          • Minna says:

            Giles, if you mean that the 'ethical wildlife crime' is a tactic on the way to better laws, and you *only* apply it in cases where the existing law causes suffering and your crime doesn't, then, as I've said, on you go, hooray! Civic disobediance is part & parcel of a society based on law & order (in my rather naive view on the world).

            But I hope that also you work to straighten the laws that are so misguided, or support work that's being done by others for this end.

            The thing with laws is they (theoretically) bind people, whereas illegal means anyone's free to decide for themselves what's ethical and what isn't. No?

            How would you go about making sure your neighbour agrees with your views on illegal ethical hunting? Or that they don't create their own even more horrid version?

          • giles says:

            Hi Minna,

            Thank you for your support for wildlife crime.

            You make a very good point about criminality - what criminality is acceptable and what isn't? In my opinion that's why it is important when breaking the law on principle to do it as publicly as possible. You've got to get people like the police and in the case of the Hunting Act, LACS/RSPCA/IFAW on side.

            Together we can stick two fingers up to Parliament and the legal system.

            It's important to remember that one of the reasons that the police are meant to have a duty to uphold the law is to uphold respect for it. Where laws are deliberately broken as a political protest against them this duty becomes even stronger. The law really has to be pretty dumb for them to allow it to be broken in this manner.

            So if my neighbour devised some horrid way to break the Hunting Act and did so in secret then that is of no consequence politically he would just be a common criminal. If he did so publicly presumably he'd end up in court.

            I don't follow him around with a camera but I am pretty sure he doesn't and that he just flushes deer from cover and mows them down with rifles and shotguns in the legally prescribed, parliamentary and LACS/RSPCA/FAW approved manner.

            BTW you can see a video of the law being complied with here http://www.league.org.uk/news-and-opinion/press-releases/2013/apr/league-releases-disturbing-new-stag-hunting-footage

            The people that made this law were extraordinarily stupid. Once the deer are flushed 'reasonable steps' must be taken to kill them as soon as possible. The QSH uses ten guns as the courts ruled they have to. They can use shot guns of it is for pest control. They can ignore the closed season if it is for pest control - indeed by law they now have to because they must according to the courts take 'reasonable steps' to kill them all.

            This is complete and utter madness.

            How on earth can LACS back a proposed law banning driven grouse shooting while also backing the law requiring herds of driven deer to be shot as soon as possible? Driving a load of deer towards guns is quite similar to driven grouse shooting if you think about it except obviously deer don't actually fly.

            The people in the video do seem to be going to great lengths to kill the deer as soon as possible don't you think? It may be that they didn't kill it ASAP after it was flushed that's hard to say as the video doesn't show that bit. But in reality it's pretty likely that deer won't be as they tend to flush in unpredictable directions - especially when using just two dogs (I use three). Or maybe they flushed several - managed to gun most of them but that one got away.

            Still they got it eventually so all's well that ends well I guess.

    • Simon Weeds says:

      Oh where is the next instalment of Piles Bradshaw's

      The rest of this comment has been deleted as the 'person' making it was using a false email address.

      • Minna says:

        Hi Giles, in reply to your comment posted on 31 July 10:30, you seem to be very involved in your case. I cannot comment about it on any other than the most general of levels because I’m not familiar, not even acquainted with your case and have no time to get into it. I hope you’re on a right path, and if you are, I wish you success.

        But do not thank me for anything, let alone a perceived support for wildlife crime. Your choice of words and strategy is yours, it’s not how I’d go about.

        To me wildlife crime is something other than disobediance in the face of a law that causes suffering to wildlife. Wildlife crime is a crime against life and hence indefensible, always.


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