Rattled, rattled, rattled!

It’s a bit of a pity that today’s Farming Today piece was introduced as a legal challenge to Pheasant shooting because it isn’t – it is a legal challenge against Defra and their failure to assess the ecological impacts of gamebird releases. But apart from that I’m happy with the interview I did for Farming Today which was broadcast today.

My chat was followed by a chat with the editor of the Shooting Times, Patrick Galbraith who did four things that the shooting industry representatives often do:

  • he admitted that there was bad practice out there and then used the ‘few bad apples’ argument – even the distinguished editor of the Shooting Times has very little idea how many bad apples there are and that is why Wild Justice says that Defra must assess the impacts of gamebird releases.
  • he uses the ‘worth a lot of money’ argument and misquotes the actual figures – this is sliding off the ecological impacts question which is what this challenge is about to talk, inaccurately, about how much money is made from the ecological damage that we say has to be assessed by Defra. And in any case ‘this industry’ has suddenly become the whole of shooting if you are going to quote the (flawed anyway) figure of £2bn per annum. The £2bn figure isn’t gamebird shooting, it isn’t even all shooting of wild animals, mammals and birds, whether for recreation and/or pest control. What it is, is all of those plus target shooting whether clay pigeons or indoor paper targets (see here Table 17). Most of the shooting days in the UK are target or clay shooting. Of the total 1,700,000 shooting days, only, at the most generous overestimate, 220,000 of them are Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge shooting days and that is a massive overestimate. So give over Patrick on the value of the shooting of non-native gamebird shooting to the economy!
  • regulation isn’t needed because ‘we are talking about people who often grew up in the countryside‘ – that makes no sense at all Patrick. Surely it can’t make sense to you either – but you said it.
  • and it ends with the usual ad hominem attack but this time it’s a new phrase ‘childish eco-politics’. Well, that’s a winning argument of course.

Mr Galbraith was clearly so rattled that he needed to use these tactics to avoid addressing the issue at hand.

In other news and comment, The Times claim that there are only 35 million gamebirds released into the countryside each year – a figure that they apparently get from BASC, whereas the Wild Justice figure is 50 million. Who is likely to be right – BASC who represent the shooting industry or a bunch of alleged townies (who all live in rural areas) who don’t know anything? Well, obviously BASC, except that the Wild Justice figure comes from the GWCT published figure in their 2017 Game and Wildlife Review published in 2018 (reference in my British Birds paper) and so is likely, I believe, to be more reliable than the BASC figure. I know full well that BASC and GWCT don’t get on very well but to differ by a figure of 15 million on the number of released non-native gamebirds actually shows the need for government, Michael Gove, to have a long hard look at the impacts of gamebird releases. If two of the major pro-shooting organisations differ so vastly in their estimates of numbers of birds released then it either means that neither of them really knows the truth, that one or both of them is wrong, or that it’s a complete mess. My money is on the last of those.

The Times quotes a Mr Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance as saying ‘… for all the attempts to dress Wild Justice as something with a serious purpose it is simply an anti-shooting organisation. Its list of grievances is a cobbled-together selection of inflated and unproven claims‘ so he is clearly rattled. The ‘claims’ are either backed up by science, often GWCT science (see the British Birds paper and have a look at this Wild Justice blog from earlier today, and there will be more examples to come over the days ahead) or are issues that need study and evaluation – which is what Wild justice is asking Defra to do.

Let us move on to the Daily Telegraph. Here the MD of the British Game Alliance is quoted as saying ‘Such ludicrous ideas would be the end of shooting, a community that puts £2.5 billion back into the UK economy and creates 75,000 jobs‘ but it’s not clear which of Wild Justice’s ludicrous ideas is being criticised here. It is difficult to believe that reviewing the ecological impacts of gamebird releases is a ludicrous idea, indeed, Wild Justice says that it is a legal necessity. One wonders what the British Game Alliance has to fear from any such review – rattled again, m’lord! Also note that there has been inflation of the flawed PACEC report figures yet again. The British Game Allaince feel they have to jack up the published figures a bit more even from what the editor of the Shooting Times said. Playing fast and loose with the figures is not an unusual thing to see from the shooting industry but it’s great fun to see them all doing it on the same day and therefore tripping themselves up.

I assume it is still the British Game Alliance being quoted a bit further on and saying ‘The ramifications of what Wild Justice are suggesting for rural people and the land managed for shooting would be cataclysmic‘ which seems to me to be an admission that if the review we have asked for (that’s all we have asked for) were to go ahead, then shooting would be in cataclysmic danger. Speaking as a person livng in a rural community it wouldn’t be the least bit cataclysmic for me. A review of ecological impacts? Bring it on!

Later in the Telegraph piece BASC’s director Caroline Bedell (see her guest blog on this site here) is quoted as saying ‘This is another extremist attack on shooting by those associated with the League Against Cruel Sports that ignores the well-documented evidence of the benefits of shooting to conservation and the wider environment.‘ which is a bit rich. Remember, this ‘extremist attack’ is asking Defra to do its job and review the ecological impacts of releasing 50 million non-native gamebirds into the countryside. More the work of nerds than of extremists I’d say, and absolutely a legitimate call for government to do its job properly – even in the face of anger from the shooting industry. I have no idea what the LACS reference is meant to mean – I was a member but am not a member, Ruth is not a member, I don’t know about Chris, but LACS have no particular input into Wild Justice’s work any more than BASC do! And, we have not ignored the ‘well-documented evidence’ about shooting, in fact we have used it as a basis for our legal challenge. The science says that there are lots of issues around the massive releases of non-native gamebirds – there is some good and there is some bad – we want Defra to look hard at it but it is absolutely clear that is the last thing that the shooting industry wants or can cope with – rattled, rattled, rattled!

So, GWCT is rattled (see here), BASC, Countryside Alliance, British Game Alliance and Shooting Times are all rattled (see above) and all over a call to review the ecology of Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges. Such a vehement, angry, incoherent and muddled response to a call for an assessment of any other industry would cause any government to look hard at what’s going on; this sort of reaction is over the top and suggests the industry is lacking in confidence and probably has something to hide. Well Mr Gove, we’re all interested in how you will respond to the Pre Action Protocol letter you received last week.

If you are going to fight the case then Wild Justice hopes to raise the money to be able to see you in court.

We’re 40% of the way there on Day 2 of our crowdfunder – please donate if you can. Thank you!

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42 Replies to “Rattled, rattled, rattled!”

  1. How hard these organizations seem to find it to understand an objective of asking our statutory agencies to abide by the law. Perhaps that tells us something about their own attitudes to the rule of law.

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  2. Couple of thoughts. Is The Times suggesting £35 million is somehow okay?! It’s still a staggering number.

    You can tell they are rattled because if their claims that the shooting industry benefits wildlife as a by product of their activities, what could they fear from any such review?! Surely if their claims were true, any review would reinforce their claims. They should be welcoming your challenge!!

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  3. Mark - of course they are rattled, WJ is mounting another poorly disguised attack on shooting. When someone or an industry is blatantly attacked they go on the offensive, as do you if you are challenged about WJs real motives or if some accuses you of wanting to ban pheasant shooting!
    I have been reading your blog with interest for a few months now and my opinion of you is you are being dragged down by WJ. It is obvious you have milder views to them and are willing to try to find middle ground with the shooting industry/community but you are towed along by Chris and Ruth and their extremism.
    It saddens me to see this type of extremism which uses the media to prey on the generally uninformed public with emotive pictures and extreme facts and figures, encouraging them to give money to causes which will ultimately remove the rights of thousands, maybe millions. My children wont be able to go out an kill and eat their own food by the time they are my age, honestly that worries me, imagine a world where you are forced to buy farmed meat, a basic human right to hunt and kill taken away, its nuts.

    Sorry, rant over, but just felt it needed to be said. Cue the tirade of hateful comments....

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    1. Dear moderate S. I am an ‘extremist’ who lives next door to a pheasant shoot in a small village. I have a difference of opinion about magpies with the local gamekeeper. I like them, he doesn’t. So he kills every single one using live decoy traps (and all the rooks, jackdaws and foxes. I believe the foxes are shot). Whose behaviour is the more extreme?

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      1. You haven't explained your reaction to the Gamekeepers actions? If it is just to dislike them then fine, if it's to donate to have the industry he works in banned then you are extreme.

        You could try answering my original question....

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        1. No :
          'If you are going to fight the case then Wild Justice hopes to raise the money to be able to see you in court.'

          Your response can only suggest that if DEFRA does what it is supposed to, it would result in the game industry being banned.

          Rattled. It certainly looks like it.,

          Rattled, it certainlyn looks like it.

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    2. People who kill defenceless animals for 'fun' have the audacity to call people who care for defenceless animals 'ectremists'. Give your lead poisoned head a shake.

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    3. Hateful comments? Please don’t flatter yourself with so much self pity. I think you’ll find most responses to your post are ether bafflement or boredom. We’ve heard all the hyperbole before (blatant attack, extremism, tirade, maybe millions), not to mention the victim claiming (our community, saddens me, removing rights, my children), self pity, self entitlement and patronising assumptions (generally uninformed public) - I won’t go on citing examples as people can just read your comment again to see the usual verbiage one hears from people trying to justify something that is clearly wrong.

      I will point out for readers the rather insidious attempt to separate Mark Avery from his colleagues by simultaneously attempting to flatter him whilst denigrating them. However politely (oleaginously?) this was expressed it is nevertheless a favourite tactic of the sociopath and bully.

      So what are we left with now we have stripped away all the posturing, tactics and rather obvious subterfuge from your comment? Several questions. Why are you really so worried? What are you trying to divert our attention from? This certainly isn’t about ‘your children’. I doubt you intend to make a ’noble sacrifice’ for them.

      This is about you and another more profound question; what kind of person stands in a field with a gun killing birds for their own amusement or self-gratification? What kind of person blithely accepts the appalling collateral damage to wildlife and ecosystems that industrialised ‘game’ shooting causes? Or have you never considered these things? I can imagine why, if you haven’t, that you consider it an impertinence that others should.

      But we shouldn’t be having to ask these questions of the shooting ‘brigade’, you should be asking them yourselves. Do you seriously think there is no environmental or ecosystems impact from releasing 40+ million non-native birds into our countryside at the exact time of year when our native wild species are trying to fatten up to survive the winter? Do you ever wonder what the effect of firing 56 million cartridges worth of lead (270 lead balls per shot) every year onto land we graze cattle on, grow crops on and collect our drinking water from? We won’t even start on the adverse impacts of grouse moor management…

      We see you and what you are. Shooting pheasants is not necessary or important in any way. It is a discretionary leisure pursuit for those wealthy enough to indulge themselves, that adds nothing to the countryside or the vast majority of those of us that live here. Most of the people that shoot live in towns, visit briefly for the weekend and then leave again, nearly always without even taking the dead birds with them to eat.

      We know you don’t kill for food (it’s a ludicrously time consuming & expensive way to feed yourself). You kill for fun and to be part of a narrow sociocultural tribe with its own preordained attitudes, behaviours and dress code (I know, I come from a shooting family). So your attempt to martyr yourself with a comment here (no doubt you feel ‘brave’ making it) does not wash with anyone. We don’t hate you. We are simply appalled by your lack of thought, honesty and respect for the intelligence and concerns of others.

      We have every right to challenge and question what you do. There’s nothing ‘extremist’ about it and we will continue to do so. It’s our country too.

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      1. Hi Peter, thanks for your very detailed reply, with a really good use of the English language. It was a long reply so I have tried my best to reply to the key points, forgive me if I missed something:

        1. "people trying to justify something that is clearly wrong" - Hunting and killing for pleasure is not wrong, its natural to some like me. I point you towards a good video which can go some way to explain this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUqq0E7NcLA.
        If you are the socialist you appear to try to be, I hope you can try to watch this, understand and be inclusive to other people and their desire to partake in activities which may not be to your liking but that does not mean they are "wrong".

        2. Regarding separating Mark from his colleagues, I was merely pointing out my observations. If you look into some previous posts, its very clear that Mark has to hold his tongue about certain subjects which he feels less strongly about. I think this is sad because I have 1000 times more respect for Mark than Chris and Ruth.

        3. Regarding my point over my concern about the rights of my children being eroded by extremist views:
        a) "Why are you really so worried?" - Because at present, my children can join me in hunting and killing their own food which must be one of the most fundamental human rights.
        b) "What are you trying to divert our attention from?" - Absolutely nothing, I have been very clear in my statements.
        c) "This certainly isn’t about ‘your children’. I doubt you intend to make a ’noble sacrifice’ for them" - I honestly have no idea what you mean by this comment, what sacrifice are you talking about here?? Sounds very extreme.

        4. "This is about you and another more profound question; what kind of person stands in a field with a gun killing birds for their own amusement or self-gratification?" - The type of person viewed by the police and the medical profession to be of so sound of mind that they can own a firearm. People with excellent careers, wives, husbands, children, family....possibly people just like you Peter.

        "What kind of person blithely accepts the appalling collateral damage to wildlife and ecosystems that industrialised ‘game’ shooting causes?" - This very much depends on your view on what ecosystem should be in place, my opinion is that the 'countryside' is a completely managed ecosystem, made by humans and as such should benefit humans commercially as well. I also add that one main point of my original post is that WJ's actions in this particular instance are just the beginning, and from your comments I see it isn't just about industrialised game shooting, it is all shooting and hunting. If this was really about the environment I would be less critical, but my concern is the underlying attempt to ban it all, which I disagree with.

        "Or have you never considered these things? I can imagine why, if you haven’t, that you consider it an impertinence that others should." - My degree may tell you otherwise, yes Peter, people who hunt and kill can be educated too.

        5. "Do you seriously think there is no environmental or ecosystems impact from releasing 40+ million non-native birds into our countryside at the exact time of year when our native wild species are trying to fatten up to survive the winter?" - I'm afraid I dont know the answer to this definitively, I would suggest there are some negative and positive impacts but that the overall positives for the ecosystem and for humans would be positive. It supports jobs and industry, peoples lives...remember the humans Peter....and you call me a sociopath. The point of my original post is that WJ are using this as a way in to ban everything.

        6. "Do you ever wonder what the effect of firing 56 million cartridges worth of lead (270 lead balls per shot) every year onto land we graze cattle on, grow crops on and collect our drinking water from?" - I'm sure there is a lot of literature out there that can inform you on this. If you have ever read any of my posts before you will see that I do think that lead shot alternatives should be more widely used. I also note that shoots do not allow plastic wads anymore.

        7. "We know you don’t kill for food (it’s a ludicrously time consuming & expensive way to feed yourself). You kill for fun and to be part of a narrow sociocultural tribe with its own preordained attitudes, behaviours and dress code (I know, I come from a shooting family)." - You are making out that this is all about driven pheasant shooting with large bags, my post wasn't about that, it was about banning shooting as a whole (which I believe you are in favour of) which is what I am against. Let me ask you to read your quote above and look at the extreme hatred it implies about a social group, that is sociopathic and in my experience sums up a lot of anti-hunting extremists, you hate humans for the most part.

        7. "So your attempt to martyr yourself with a comment here (no doubt you feel ‘brave’ making it) does not wash with anyone" - I have one word for this quote...EXTREME.

        Thanks again Peter, I hope we have gained some common ground.

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        1. Hi ’S’, would you please do us all the courtesy of giving us your real name?

          Thank you for your lengthy reply which, let’s be honest, doesn’t really tell us much more than your original comment. This issue has nothing to do with political affiliations or what level of education you may or may not have achieved. Likewise, owning a shotgun certificate does not make you a better person than the rest of us, indeed I have also had one but never used my shotgun to kill things (a brief period clay pigeon shooting, before you spend too long wondering).

          You keep trying to imply you are a better kind of person than the rest of us (which is a rather weak strategy) and that we somehow ‘don’t understand’ you or what you are doing. You cannot patronise me or anyone else with your self-aggrandising condemnations because we are beyond that. We do understand you and we recognise what you do is wrong, both morally and that it is very harmful for our environment.

          Your entire output so far centres around one thing only, which is ‘your’ point of view. That is to say you see this entirely from the perspective of your own desire to amuse yourself and you have framed a series of false justifications in order to convince yourself it is ok to continue. This is why you cannot see (or admit) that killing things for ‘fun’ is a morally degenerate and entirely selfish activity. Ask yourself what would happen if your children were sent home from school because they had been found ritually killing hamsters? Imagine if you then discovered they had been breeding them for the purpose and had set up social structures with rules, rituals and dress codes in order to do it? Or that some claimed to be cooking and eating them? You know as well as anyone else that this is wrong and that social services, not to mention psychologists, would be called in as a matter of urgency.

          Just because pheasant shooting is ‘traditional’ or the fact that the landscape is ‘managed’ in a certain way doesn’t make it any less immoral, damaging or offensive. It has nothing to do with ‘socialism’, it’s about basic human behaviour. You, no doubt, consider this to be ‘virtue signalling’ and would condemn your critics as ‘do-gooders’, but your opinion of yourself does not change the facts or the morality of what you do. And yet you still cling to the false claim that you are shooting for food in order to justify and conceal your openly declared pleasure in killing.

          Again, this is nonsense. Apart from the fact that hardly any of the pheasants shot are actually eaten by the shooters (I know this, remember), nothing about the shooting industry makes any sense if food were the purpose of doing it. If there was a genuine market for pheasants to eat then they would be produced commercially in sheds like chickens and be subject to the same production standards. As it satnds, shoots struggle to even give them away.

          The truth is they are reared specifically and very expensively to be shot. You pay a lot in terms of all the kit you need, the licencing and storage of guns, the fees on the day, not to mention the sheer amount of time you spend doing it, often in the freezing cold and rain. Your claim is absurd. You may also wish to consider the reason why supermarkets don’t stock ‘game’ that has been shot with lead. And then ask yourself whether feeding it to yourself, let alone your children, is wise.

          So we get to the real nuts and bolts of your reply; you say you ‘don’t know’ the answer to the central question of environmental impacts at the heart of Wild Justice’s current action. That is exactly why the action is being taken - because we do know the answer. We have thought about it rather than wrapping ourselves up in sociocultural narcissism and denying the facts. We have a right to ask these questions and to draw attention to the facts. This is what you really fear because the facts are undeniable. Your bluster and tradition, your self justification and attempts to position yourselves as ‘normal’ and your pastime as harmless are simply obliterated by the truth.

          Yet you continue to resort to ad hominem accusations of ‘extremism’ in a disingenuous attempt to try and move the Overton Window towards your own position. You are, in fact, the extremist. It is your activity that is causing harm and these things therefore fall outside of the scope of ‘ freedom’, ‘opinion’ and ‘choice’. It is not incumbent on us to negotiate any kind of understanding with you or your right to demand we arrive at a ‘compromise position’. You need to face up to the facts about what you do, why you do it and whether the harm it does is justified. It isn’t justified and if you are as intelligent as you claim to be then, with a bit of honesty and self reflection, you will begin to see it that way. The way the vast majority of society sees it.

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          1. Thanks Peter, I will take all your comments on board and sorry to have got you so rattled! I just wanted to get to depths of the argument and I think we have and it's great to understand your point of view. You keep campaigning and I will keep hunting and let what will be, be. 🙂
            About my real name, I'm afraid I would fear for my safety if it was given out.

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        1. I should add that my applause are for Peter, in case there's any doubt.

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      2. A very convincing and eloquent post, if i shot Pheasant I would stop.. Your mention of the dress codes made me think of the rather natty range that Mr Packam sells for the avid naturalists. However one thing that has occurred to me on this long week of blogging, is that when you achieved your ban of blood sports, what do think these sadistic farmers and landowners are going to do with their pheasant coverts, hedges and moors [presuming you havn't given back the land to the people] .. my guess is that these angry and unpleasant folk are going to grub up, cut down, drain. plough and plant the same land to feed vegans. desirable as this may seem, the knock on effect for the great British flora and fauna isnt looking good TBH

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        1. Wow Steve O! That has to be one of the most ludicrous appeal to extremes I've ever had the misfortune to read.

          I'm not sure where your allegiance lies. Are you in fact making a veiled threat?

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          1. Raven dont be silly, do you think i speak for all the landowners in Britain. however when blood sports are banned do you think landowners are going to give a rats arse about conservation headlands, cover crops, tree planting, no, neither do i

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      3. Usual kind of reaction to people who don't shoot. You attack the people who do shoot just because you don't agree with it. Sorry but animals get killed every day in the wild by far more painful ways than a quick death from getting shot. Have you seen magpies/crows /seagulls eating young chicks while still alive for example? Next thing all you snowflakes will want to ban raptors from eating live mice! If you're happy living your vegan lifestyle that's fine but stop trying to destroy the things that some of us enjoy! Unfortunately meat comes from animals, there's no way around getting meat than killing the animal it comes from

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        1. "Usual kind of reaction" from one who can't be bothered to, or is incapable of, researching the issue at hand, in order to get his facts correct, before posting stupid comments online.

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    4. Dear S,

      I’m on buoyant a bit dim.
      Please explain how this is extremism and an attack on the shooting industry.
      1) Shooting is an industry that affects a large part of the British countryside (be that positive or negative effects).
      2) There is no current official assessment of the environmental impact of this industry.
      3) All Wild Justice are asking for is for this assessment to be carried out by the relevant Government Agency.
      4) If shooting has all the great positive impacts you and others claim then you would be vindicated and secure from future ‘extremism’

      So, why are you worried? Why is this an ‘attack’ by ‘extremists’?

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    5. It’s extremely telling that you consider an appropriate environmental impact assessment an ‘extremist’ point of view, whereas the actual release of such an absurd number of non native species isn’t. Typically, your posts are full of projection and weak arguments, in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable. Why would anyone need to resort to ‘hateful’ replies in the face of such desperate and cliched reasoning? You flatter yourself, in the same way the shooting industry constantly over-inflates their importance to the economy and the environment. If you genuinely cared about the latter, you would welcome this challenge, but it’s very clear that your selfish agenda comes first.

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  4. "Well Mr Gove, we’re all interested in how you will respond" That we are donation on its way.

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  5. Interesting blog. I work in an industry regulated to the hilt. We have safety, risk, ecological, financial and environmental reviews for almost everything. All for a good reason - these reviews support us, keep us safe, minimise effects on the environment...etc, etc. So why not the shooting industry? The review might exonerate them, and those of us who dislike this 'industry' might have to eat our words.

    Then again it might back up everything we said. Good on WJ.

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  6. Come on Mark 😉 since when have the establishment's media ever let science or facts get in the way of sensationalising something they fear being scrutinised or exposed?

    First they ignore you
    Then they laugh at you
    Then they attack you
    Then ....

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  7. Do pheasants kill protected reptiles, such as adders, lizards... etc?

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    1. Yes pheasants do kill and eat small reptiles, amphibians, mammals and even take the young of ground nesting birds like pipits, one now deceased Grouse keeper I knew also believed they ate the eggs of ground nesting birds, all out with all the seeds, vegetable matter and invertebrates they eat.
      I find it odd although not unexpected that the shooting organisations and their members scream about anything being anti shooting or wanting shooting banned when anything to do with proper regulation of their hobby, or business is remotely on the cards, perhaps because they know it is their only defence.
      We live in the midst of a large pheasant shoot here in Wales where there are hundreds of the damned things in the garden, on our small holding and on the adjacent nature reserve. they do considerable damage in the garden, where all our winter veg has to be netted against them. Our nearest neighbours over the river used to open their beautiful garden once or twice a year for charity but have ceased because of the pheasant damage to said garden.

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    2. I too, like Paul V Irving, would report that sadly they are a nuisance to native wildlife and to the list please add Nightjar.

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  8. Some years ago when working at Aberystwyth University I suggested that an MSc course on Field Sports Science should be started. Biological sciences could do the conservation stuff and general fish ,bird and mammal biology with the physics department coming in on the ballistics etc.
    At the time I said it as a joke to wind up my superiors but looking back (and forward) at the seeming lack of knowledge maybe it's not such a bad idea.
    Does any University run such a course I wonder?

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  9. 'S' and his ilk appear to have no regard for the rule of law.

    All that is being asked here is that statutory agencies comply with, and apply, the relevant legislation.

    There's more than a whiff of hypocrisy about them.

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  10. A question. Didn't the pheasant come to our shores in very early times, like the rabbit? Romans or Normans, if I recall. If this is true, then they are both naturalised rather than introduced. The problem, as I see it, is with the volumes, not their being here. Nor, for the logical hunter/gathers amongst us, is it with their killing. Mark has already stated that he does not seek to ban lowland shooting.
    I know of many shoots that have not released birds for decades but they still shoot them. Is that also a bad thing? I think not. Actually, I believe so-called 'wild bird' shoots are beneficial. They encourage conservation without excessive bags. And excess is never a good thing. But then I am only interested in killing what I eat. The fact that the skill reqired gives me pleasure is no one's business but mine. There are many things in this life that offend me but I do not seek their cessation as they do not impact on my life. I think this debate needs more clarity from both sides: what is being sought and why?

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    1. The truth of whether the pheasant came to our shores or not with the Romans. Yes it did but all evidence would suggest as a bird reared in captivity rather than released for the hunt, indeed that is true with further so called introductions by the Normans There is little evidence to suggest that the Pheasant was a "wild" bird at all until the late medieval period, even then they may have been largely " domestic." The pheasant only really became common with the advent of the gun and more were introduced with the advent of breech loading, many a tenant farmer in the late eighteenth throughout nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century referred to the curse of the pheasant as a crop pest!
      How can it be considered naturalised when for the purposes of shooting so many millions are released every year. We cannot even be sure if without those releases that the population would be self sustaining in the long term.
      Remember even though we live in a largely man-made environment wildlife ecology is something the wildlife sorts for itself, it is not something we do nor should it be, that becomes not natural balance but a value judgement imposed figure.

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    2. Well said Nick Kester.. A man after my own heart.. the debate is about hatred of people that kill things for fun. a huge overload of pheasants and some serious double standards by the antis. its about the shooting industry that didnt care less and about some opportunistic attention seekers.. I hope when it ends in a few years the casualties aren't the wild life many of us seek to protect..

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      1. steve o - the debate that Wild Justice started rather than your ramblings as comments on this blog, are about whether Defra must do a proper assessment of the ecological impacts of the release of 50 million non-native gamebirds into the countryside.

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        1. Mark thanks for your valued opinion
          Do you recognise anyone you know in my ramblings ?

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    3. Reasonable comments Mr Kester but a question for you. Do you think it reasonable to expect an ecological assessment to be made of the release of such vast quantities of gamebirds?
      Also a point in reference to you suggesting they are naturalised. It is my belief that all releases of native and naturalised(eg little owls) require defra to issue licences and their issue is subject to an ecological assessment. They will not for instance issue licences to release barn owls, I have been told. If we now consider pheasants to be naturalised would they not or should they not be scrutinised and licenced in the same way?

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      1. I have no problem with examining a perceived issue with large releases of pheasants, provided the purpose is simply to assess the possible damage. Nothing more, no hidden agendas.
        The reason the barn owl was taken off the release scheme was due to the majority being non-European sub-species.
        We should remember the goshawk (sourced from FInland and Germany) and the red kite (from Spain) are both here in reasonable, some would say excessive numbers is entirely due to release schemes.

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        1. "We should remember" that Goshawks and Red Kites (there are more than just the one) are both native species, and that the Welsh Red Kite population, the same race as Spanish and Swedish (the other donor population) Kites recovered independently of reintroduction schemes (N.B. Reintroduction, not simply "release schemes"). And, in the case of Goshawks, there has been no such release scheme, simply accidental and deliberate releases by owners.

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        2. Nick Kester, thanks for the clarification on barn owls.
          Regarding hidden agendas, I would have thought that if an issue was worth investigating it is still worth investigating regardless of the initiator's motives. One could argue that the objectors have a hidden agenda that fears a negative result.

          Shootings wilful blindness, as to the extremes that are happening to facilitate and the action itself of high bag driven game shoots, is something the industry needs wake up to and do something about as modern societies attitudes are changing. People with agendas (on both sides) will point to the glowing examples of how good or bad something is and high bag driven shoots are an easy (and I think valid) target for the antis.

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  11. Again, 'S' replies but no name because he fears for his safety?! This is ridiculous and insulting. He and his ilk have nothing to fear from us but a relentless exposing of the facts. Nor am I or anyone else raising these issued, 'rattled'.

    What is interesting is this constant attempt to portray the issues as a matter of 'choice' as if there is no difference between good and bad i.e. causing harm and not causing harm. This is not the case. The facts concerning the harm done by shooting and other parts of the recreational killing industry are not 'moot', they are incontrovertible. The constant turning away from this by those who indulge in these activities is a form of moral and intellectual cowardice.

    We accept all kinds of harm in society on the basis that it is (or may be) in some way, necessary. However, shooting birds for fun is not in any way 'necessary'. All forms of activity must be assessed in terms of harm and that caused by recreational activities, rightly, has a very low threshold of tolerance in society. To expand on my earlier point, concepts of 'freedom', 'opinion' and 'choice' are nullified if an activity is both harmful and not necessary.

    We cannot expect to pursue our personal desires in 'merry isolation' as though no-one else existed and whatever harm it causes can be disregarded or palmed off on others or the environment we all share.

    It is a matter of facing facts and making rational decisions in the interests of the general good and not one's own selfish gratification. If shooting were somehow 'necessary' instead of a rather grim and pointless form of repetitive self-stimulation, we could regretfully accept the harm it causes. But it isn't necessary and no responsible person should be doing it given these harms.

    There are plenty of other, more constructive and wholesome things to do in the countryside and if people want to shoot then they should do so with inanimate targets without damaging wildlife, ecosystems and in a place where it can be conducted safely and without bothering everyone else.

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