Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Crawley & Horsham Hunt

Although I do not hunt (I am in fact a poor horseman, although, I have been told that I look good on a horse), I respect a persons right to hunt and as such wish to see a repeal of the hunting act, which has very little to do with foxes anyway and was to appease the Labour Party old guard as hunting is something done by country folk who due to the fact that they live in the country are or so the argument goes Tories.

Anyway academics specialising in animal welfare have concluded that hunting with dogs must cause a degree of suffering to individual animals, but that the ban on hunting with dogs is not likely to improve the welfare of the quarry species, there is also concern that the alternative methods left available. The Middle Way Group’s research “Wounding Rates of Shot Foxes” which following a long peer-review process was published in the scientific journal Animal Welfare, showed high wounding rates involved in shooting foxes and has raised serious doubts over anti-hunting claims that shooting is the humane alternative to hunting with dogs. Unfortunately this led Jackie Ballard, Director General of the RSPCA, to state that

“There was not absolute proof that wounded foxes suffer.”

Understandably vets stated that they were “astonished” by the revelation, and Lembit Öpik MP, co-chair of the Middle Way Group, said,

“We have seen evidence from the Burns Enquiry, Portcullis House Hearings and our own shooting study ignored by the anti-hunting groups. Now we see the world’s premier animal welfare organisation defying all reason. This is not just twisting science to suit a case, but also common sense!”

The High Court hearing of the Crawley & Horsham hunt and the 88 farmers and landowners across whose land they hunt has been adjourned for a second time this week.

It had been hoped to obtain an injunction against Simon and Jaine Wild and their West Sussex Wildlife Protection Group on the grounds of harassment, nuisance and trespass which would be in place before 1st September 2008 in time for the start of the hunting season, as these animal rights activists who have targeted hunts and shoots across the South East for decades, have in recent years focussed on the Crawley and Horsham, often causing considerable anxiety to hunt supporters and farmers. The hunt has logged 269 incidents of trespass and harassment carried out by the Wilds and their associates in the last two years alone.

Evidence which includes video footage and witness statements was originally to be presented to the High Court on Monday 28th July however, Mr. Justice Cranston, a Solicitor-General in Tony Blair’s Government, stood aside after 30 minutes of legal argument when lawyers representing the hunt & farmers raised formal objections. When he was MP for Dudley North in 2000 Mr. Justice Cranston described fox-hunting as ‘not a sport, but a barbaric and cruel activity’ in a statement to a local newspaper, the Stourbridge News.

He then went on to ‘welcome the chance to vote…and consign this brutal practice to the dustbin of history’.

Two years later, in December 2002, he signed an Early Day Motion, presented by the late Tony Banks MP, which urged Parliament to ban hunting, on the basis that ‘only a total ban on hunting will be acceptable’

The cases was then scheduled to be heard on 20th October 2008, however three days into the hearing Mr Justice King adjourned the case pending a “case management conference” within five or six weeks, followed by a resumption of the full trial of the action at a later date – possibly in the Spring. The adjournment had nothing to do with the strength of evidence produced by the Crawley & Horsham, and they remain confident that when that evidence is eventually presented to the Court, an injunction will be granted.

Victory in this case, will ensure that one small hunt in West Sussex can carry on without harassment and that every hunt and shoot across the country has a recourse in law should they become the target of the same sort of animal rights campaign.

Hunt supporters from around the world have rallied round this week and given an overwhelming amount of support to the Crawley and Horsham Hunt Injunction fund. As well as phenomenal support from UK donors, donations from hunts in France and Portugal, as well as supporters from Gibraltar, Germany, Australia and America have made generous contributions towards the fund.

If anyone wishes to offer financial support however great or small, especially as this case is about much more than hunting, and concerns a person’s civil liberties and freedom to take part in lawful activities without the fear of victimisation and intimidation then they can do so here using paypal.

Website additions, more on squirrels, useless facts & a quote.

At long last another five years of baptisms and burials have been put online today following a long overdue visit to the archives last Friday.

Following on from the last post about grey squirrels I was delighted to read in the Shooting Times (9 October 2008) that the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership have culled over 20 000 [20 246 since January 2007] grey squirrels in Northumberland.

The Partnership which was founded in 2006 and to quote their website

“… consists of a group of individuals committed to saving the red squirrel from extinction in Northumberland. To do this we are building a network of monitors who can scout designated areas of land in red squirrel zones for any signs of grey squirrel incursions. Based on this work, any greys spotted in these zones will be trapped and dispatched by a trained and regulated team, stopping the threat of the grey squirrel spreading. We have received funding from the local Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs in Northumberland.”

While reading this week I finally discovered why when dealing with pre-decimalization currency pence is abbreviated to ‘d’, as in l. s. d. Well if like me it is something that has puzzled you then the answer is pence is abbreviated to ‘d’ for denarius or denarii (a Roman coin), shilling is abbreviated to ‘s’ for solidus (again a Roman coin) and pond is abbreviated to ‘l’ for libra (a pond in weight).

Finally I would like to leave you with this quote from “50 People Who Buggered Up Britain“, the Daily Mail’s peerless sketchwriter Quentin Letts’ new book

“Fox-hunting, as traditionally practised, became an illegal activity during Tony Blair’s second term. Hundreds of hours of parliamentary effort were devoted to its extermination. MPs bent over backwards to criminalise an outdoor sport pursued by some of the most upstanding members of the community. The ban was ridiculous and impractical and it tarnished Parliament’s own standing.

“The Government minister who pushed through the hunting ban? A dismal little doormat called Alun Michael.

“To look at, he is not a striking proposition, a careworn creature with the hunched shoulders and lank hair of a natural loser. Alun Michael is an authentic middler, a worker bee, putty in the hands of more confident colleagues.

“On hunting, he got his way. Ill-informed, emotive arguments defeated common sense. But he still looked flea-bitten as he led the canter towards the ban. He still looked miserable, mangy, weak.”

Who let the squirrels out?

I was reading about the plight of the red squirrels in the Natural Lore column of the Shooting Times (18th September 2008) and it appears that:

“The first authenticated record of the grey squirrel being released in England was by T. V. Brocklehurst in the grounds of Henbury Park, Cheshire, in 1876.”

Reading this made me think first of the Brocklehursts of Swythamley, and then of Captain Courtney Brocklehurst who at the start of the Second World War released the wallabies that lived for many years on the Roaches in the Peak District.  A quick search of Google Maps shows Henbury to be near Macclesfield and so there is a possability that T. V. Brocklehurst and Capt. Courtney Brocklehurst are related by blood and not just by introducing non native species to the British countryside.

While searching for more information on T. V. Brocklehurst I was dismayed to read on the Times website that stupid sentimentality has led to a change in the law meaning that after obtaining a license it is now possible to release trapped grey squirrels back into the wild. Until last year anyone catching a grey squirrel was required by law to kill it to help preserve the native red squirrel. Natural England the Governmental quango for nature said the change had been made to reflect public sentimentality.

The House of Lords with its usual wisdow called into question the wisdom of treating grey squirrels humanely. England has about two million grey squirrels and the figures given show that 13,337 were exterminated in Northumberland alone last year

Baroness Trumpington, a former Tory Agriculture Minister, asked why licences were issued at all.

“If you give licences for six squirrels, presuming that three are male and three are female, in no time at all you will have 60 squirrels. After that, my mind boggles,”

Baroness Butler-Sloss, until recently the most senior female judge in England and Wales, also advocated extermination.

Personally I think that all grey squirrels should be shot on sight, and if it is safe to do so anyone with a spade, air rifle or shot gun should show them no mercy.

“SG”, a contributor to The Trap Man website, described his technique for dispatching captured grey squirrels:

“Place jute bag round end of cage . . . pull door up and open – squirrel rushes into bag. Grabbed end of bag to assure its closure and trapped vermin. Try to hold it down and bang away with hammer.”

If anyone fancies ago at trapping a few grey squirrels then it is suggested that the best bait is peanut butter, nutty chocolate spread or dry cat food, but please have a spade to hand incase you are successful.

Biomass developments at Lask Edge Farm

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, it is about a mobile pellet making unit being developed by father and son team Robert & Christopher Scott, at Lask Edge Farm in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

The idea for a mobile pellet making unit arose when they were looking at alternative methods of heating Lask Edge Farm and an interest in biomass as fuel source, and that upgrading biomass into pellets being the most convenient solution. However the pellet market is dominated by large scale expensive (£50,000 upwards) production solutions, therefore Robert and Christopher decide to develop their ideas into small scale mobile and static pellet production units, which eventually became pelheat. While the unit is still a prototype the first production machines should be on sale by the end of the year with an approximate price of £20,000.

The process involved in the production of pellets is fairly simple with material being hand fed into a hammer mill and then into a hopper from where it is augered into a pellet mill that produces either 6mm or 8mm diameter pellets. Water or oil can be added at this stage to help bind the pellets. Almost anything with a moisture content of less than 15% can be pelletised, including wheat and barley straw, oilseed rape cake (what is left after the oil has been extracted), dry woodchips, sawdust, miscanthus, canary or switch grass and cardboard.

There are a number of boilers on the market that can burn the pellets and it would not take long to produce the 10t that would be typically need to heat a farmhouse for six hours a day for four months of the years using a 50Kw burner. The real benefit however would come from selling the pellets to other biomass boiler users.

Jim Paice asks for badger photographs

Shadow environment secretary Jim Paice speaking at the CLA Game Fair called for everyone with TB infected badgers on their land to photograph them.

“I want everyone with TB infected badgers on their land to take photos of them, …

There is nothing more repulsive than seeing a badger with TB. They suffer immensely. …

… If we can bring this to the public’s attention, we can change their minds about a badger cull.”

My only concern is who would actually publish these pictures? It’s obvious that much of the media is in denial preferring to portray the countryside as populated by Bambi Peter Rabbit Bill the Badger and Mrs Tiggywinkle, even if Old Broc likes nothing more than Mrs Tiggywinkle for breakfast, dinner, tea and supper. Anyway why are the Government investing £20m (especially when research is likely to cost 50 times this amount) in a vaccine for badgers when they are not seen as an agent in the spread of bovine TB? Or why if more testing is the perceived solution is TB still increasing, does it not follow that increasing the frequency of testing and pre-movement testing will make things worse?

At the end of the day this is not just a cattle/badger problem, it affects a wide range of species, including humans. To control the spread of TB we currently cull cattle, In people it was isolation hospitals, in wildlife we do nothing as it is considered less cruel to allow the disease to rampage unchecked, which to me makes as much sense as the RSPCA’s comment that a fox that has been shot and wounded (not killed) does not suffer as there is no scientific evidence to show that they do (probably because the scientists are of sufficient intelligence to realise that a wounded animal does suffer and so there is no need to waste time researching the plainly obvious.

It is not possible to control disease without looking at all the angles, and to do half a job is no better than doing nothing!