Tuesday, 3 August 2021

NOTICE

 Dear Friends, 


I have been doing blogs on Blogger/Blogspot for so long that it seems really strange not to be doing them anymore, but as many of you will have found out, dear Louis - who really is a Saint among men for putting up with me during the full-moon - has done a magnificent all singing all dancing website for us. You can find it at cfz.org.uk


As Pete Townshend would have said “meet the new blogs, the same as the old blogs, except they are not, they are much better”. These blogs on Blogspot will remain as legacy sites, so never fear that all the stuff that you have read over the years should still be available for you to read, up to and including the day when either the sun goes supernova or the ice caps finish melting and we sink graciously beneath the sea.









Jon


Friday, 16 July 2021

Subject: Wild Justice 69 - new legal action, Shooting Times update

 

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Good morning!  Our main news today is that we are mounting a challenge of DEFRA's regulations that relate to burning vegetation on peatland soils. However, we know that many of you are interested in our tussle with the Shooting Times over an article they published back in February so we'll take this opportunity to tell you about that and a few other things too.  But first, our challenge of the Burning Regulations...
 
1. Burning Regulations
Back in early June, in Wild Justice newsletter 63, we told you that we had sent a Pre-Action Protocol letter to DEFRA saying that the Burning Regulations which they had brought in were, in our view, unlawful because, essentially, they weren't good enough - they aren't strong enough and they aren't clear enough.  DEFRA responded saying something along the lines of 'Oh yes they are'.  Our legal advice is that their defence is weak and flawed so we have taken the next stage in the three-step process of judicial review - we issued detailed papers in the High Court on Tuesday. These lengthy papers contain a financial statement, a witness statement about the issue by Wild Justice and the top-level legal argument  which is a called a Statement of Facts and Grounds by our lawyers. 
 
DEFRA will have to respond to these arguments in detail - unless they'd like to give in now - and then a judge will or won't give us permission for judicial review of the Burning Regulations. We almost certainly won't hear whether or not we have permission until the autumn. If we get permission we move on to even more detailed legal arguments and a hearing before a judge at a later date who will pronounce on whether we are right, or DEFRA is right (and sometimes it is a bit of both - see our challenge of NRW's general licences - click here).
 
You can read our press release on the matter - click here. The Wild Justice quote in that release is 'There's a climate crisis and a biodiversity crisis, and this type of burning adds to both. Instead of acting decisively, DEFRA is fiddling while the uplands burn.'.  We'd say that is undoubtedly true, DEFRA probably wouldn't agree, but DEFRA's measures have been very widely criticised by other environmental and conservation groups, by many peers in the House of Lords and by the Committee on Climate Change in its very recent report to Parliament, so it's a widely held view. Our legal challenge seeks to establish that not only is DEFRA dragging its feet on this matter but it is doing so in a way that is unlawful because of existing legal commitments under environmental law.  It's a complex case, but one which we believe is well worth taking - win or lose. Our lawyers at Leigh Day say that the Regulations 'create a fa├žade of effectiveness preventing real progress from being made' - that's a good way of putting it too! 
 
Obviously these challenges cost money BUT, no, we aren't asking you to contribute to this challenge at this stage. Thanks to the generosity of Wild Justice supporters we have built up a fighting fund and so we have the first stage (the PAP letter) and the second stage (which will end with a decision on permission over proceeding to a court hearing) covered.  If we get permission to go to court then we will ask you for help in funding that last, third stage.
 
Talking of money, very briefly...
 
2. We have filed our company accounts for 1 November 2019 - 31 October 2020 - you can see them here on our blog or on the Companies House website (but they are quite dull).
 
3. The Perfect 10 or the Imperfect 8 - an update. 
In late May we told you (in newsletter 62 and this blog post) about an article, published in Shooting Times, which described a man going out to try to shoot the 'Perfect' 10 species in a day, which we had reported to DEFRA as a potential breach of the terms of the general licences. We updated you recently (newsletter 67 and three blog posts, The Shooting Times and the general licencesA letter to the Shooting Times and What that Shooting Times article might have said) about the fact that when the Essex Police sought to interview the writer of the article he changed his story (presumably to the truth) and admitted that the article was, in large parts, false. We wrote to the Shooting Times pointing out that they had not only published an article that was not true, but had it been true then it was describing behaviour that might be illegal and that they should make amends for that. There is a small correction printed in Shooting Times this week and you can see what we think of it in another blog post published today - click here.
 
That's more or less it for now.  There will be another newsletter very soon telling you about our plans for Hen Harrier Day and what the three of us got up to, with some friends, on some grouse moors and other moors when we all met up earlier this week.
 
If you like what we are doing, please consider making a donation through PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here. All our work is funded solely by donations.
 
Back soon!
 
 
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).
 
Image of heather burning - thanks to Sarah Hanson.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

The meaningless destruction of the Malay tapir

 

Malay tapirs need your help

No images? Click here

Siamese crocodile hatchling being held by conservationist

The meaningless destruction of the Malay tapir

Malay tapirs are glorious. These adorable animals spend their time innocently wandering around the rainforests of Southeast Asia, blissfully grazing on foliage and keeping to themselves. Often disguised in the deep undergrowth, they rarely encounter humans face to face, so we actually know surprisingly little about them.

But what we do know is shocking. 

The forests they call home have become a literal death trap. The trails they use daily have been filled with tiger snares, and tapirs are being caught in the crossfire.

The effect is devastating. The poorly sighted tapirs, who try so hard to stay out of trouble, end up walking right into the traps.

It is a sickening sight. The snares cause horrific pain, tightening with each tug as the tapirs try to pull free, and the struggle can last for many hours, the cables tearing through their skin. The result is a slow and agonising death.

And the most depressing part is yet to come.

As tapir meat is considered forbidden by most locals, when these poor creatures are eventually found by poachers, they are ruthlessly and uselessly discarded.

It’s like twisting a knife in a wound - not only are these tapirs being subjected to such barbaric pain, but the whole process is totally needless and utterly devoid of sense. It is heartbreaking beyond measure.

This is why we need your help – tapirs have a relatively slow reproduction rate so their population could take many years to recover. The only way to end this tragedy is to clear the snares, and clear them fast.

Through your donations, we can get rangers patrolling the forest, detecting and safely removing snares to help protect tapirs and other wildlife. This will make a crucial difference in securing the future of the Malay tapir.

Let’s save these wonderful creatures before it is too late.

 

Please help save Malay tapirs - there are only 2,500 left. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help put rangers in the field to carry out crucial snare removal, helping to keep the forests safe for the magnificent Malay tapir. Thank you.

Brunswick the shark

 Meet "Brunswick" And 8 Other Bone Chilling Great White Sharks Who Have Visited Our Jersey Shore

Cats are predators and natural hunters, but kittens must be taught how to stalk and kill. Wild cats often injure animals and carry them back so their ..

Big cat in Carolinas

 North Carolina man reels in record-setting 127-pound blue catfish

It is the third-largest blue catfish ever caught in the U.S. ... "But once we got that big one in the boat and it bottomed out my 110-pound scale, we ... new North Carolina state record blue cat would've been on the other end of the line

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

BBC: Anglers on alert for invasive Pacific pink salmon



Anglers have been asked to report catches and sightings of an invasive species of salmon in Scottish rivers.

Pink salmon are native to Pacific Ocean waters but have spread to parts of northern Europe after being released into rivers in Russia in the 1960s.

"Unprecedented numbers" of the fish were found in Scottish rivers in 2017, and high numbers were again seen in 2019.

The salmon have already been caught this year in the Ness in the Highlands.

Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS) has asked anglers to report where else the fish have been found.


Read on…

BBC: Giant goldfish problem in US lake prompts warning to pet owners


 A city in the US state of Minnesota has urged residents not to release their unwanted pet fish into the wild after finding huge goldfish in a lake.

The common household pets can grow far bigger in the wild and cause major disruption to ecosystems.

The city of Burnsville shared images showing several monster goldfish caught during a survey of Keller Lake.

It said goldfish could contribute to poor water quality by disturbing sediment and uprooting plants.

"Please don't release your pet goldfish into ponds and lakes!" the city wrote in a tweet.


Read on…


Thursday, 8 July 2021

Saving Grauer’s gorillas

 

Siamese crocodile hatchling being held by conservationist

Great apes in grave danger

What’s happening is a tragedy. Nothing short of it.

Over the last few decades, Grauer’s gorillas have been practically obliterated. They’ve been under assault from all sides - hunted by humans, carved up for bushmeat, sold as pets, plagued with diseases and had their forest home decimated by illegal logging and mining.

Unsurprisingly the cost in lives has been brutal.

A staggering 77% of the population was wiped out in just 20 years - three-quarters of the population gone in less than a lifetime.

The devastating civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo brought humans to their doorstep, and the destruction that followed was sickening. In the blink of an eye, these gentle giants found themselves thrust into the centre of the fighting - their homes demolished, entire families slaughtered.

And while the civil war is technically over, the violence has barely subsided. The gorillas are still being forced to struggle for survival, and today there are fewer than 4,000 alive.

If the loss continues at this gruesome rate, they simply won’t survive much longer.

We need to save them.

Recovery is going to be difficult - the damage is deep, and the suspension of tourism since the Covid-19 outbreak has caused a dramatic fall in the funds going towards their protection. It will take a lot of work to help bring Grauer’s gorilla back from the brink.

But we have proved it can be done – we have already aided their cousins, the mountain gorillas, helping their population rise from just a few hundred to over a thousand today. Now - with your support - we can help Grauer’s gorilla recover too.

Your donations could help fund vital forest patrols across the gorillas’ habitat, enabling rangers to monitor the wildlife, destroy illegal snares and raise awareness among local communities. This will be crucial in securing the future of this captivating great ape.

With your support, we can keep Grauer’s gorillas flourishing and free - ending the suffering they never deserved.

 

Please help save Grauer's gorillas. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could fund essential patrol teams deterring illegal poaching, helping to protect this extraordinary primate. Thank you.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Wild Justice 68

 

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Good morning!
 
Our main news today is that Wild Justice has made significant progress on reform of the general licences that apply in Northern Ireland. But first, here are a couple of snippets from elsewhere, and some 'thank you!'s. 
 
Thank you for your continuing support, both in terms of moral support, practical support by signing petitions and writing letters, and your financial support. Wild Justice couldn't be the challenging organisation that it is without your help. Thank you to the large numbers of you who helped get the #stateofnature petition, calling for legally binding targets in the Environment Bill, to over 208,000 signatures. The petition is being handed in to DEFRA later today. The contribution of Wild Justice supporters to that total was immense - thank you.  And thank you for your ongoing financial support for everything we do - we couldn't do it without you.
 
And thank you! to Gill Lewis: Gill is a children's author and writes about wildlife issues. She has dedicated her latest book, Willow Wildthing and the Magic Spell to Wild Justice - a few more details here.
 
Shooting Times article: in our last newsletter we told you about the article that was published in the Shooting Times last February which we believed described events which contravened the terms of the general licences. And we brought you the news that the author of the article had told the police that the article was false in some respects and that the Carrion Crow and Jay involved had actually emerged from his freezer. We contacted the Shooting Times and, to be fair to them, they were prompt in responding and have told us they will print a correction in this week's magazine. We have asked to see that correction to judge whether or not it is adequate but we haven't seen it yet and publication of this weekly magazine is imminent, so this matter may not be at an end - we'll let you know. We also wrote a light-hearted blog about the original article but it is a serious matter as the last paragraph of the blog makes clear.
 
Northern Ireland general licences: back in March (Wild Justice newsletter 56) we told you that we had written to DAERA in Northern Ireland telling them how awful, and unlawful, we believed their existing licences to be, and that if they didn't improve them considerably then we would intend to take legal action against them (see our letter here).  There has been subsequent correspondence in the interim.
 
Last week, out of the blue but certainly as a result of our legal letters, DAERA announced a consultation on changes to the general licences which is now open, and closes on the Inglorious 12th August.
 
The consultation proposes removing several species from some or all of the three current NI general licences - and about time too!  Wild Justice welcomes the proposed removal of Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Rook from all three of the categories of general licence (public health, serious damage to agriculture, and conservation) although we have pointed out to DAERA that Herring Gull isn't currently listed on the conservation licence!  We also welcome the proposed removal of Wood Pigeon and Feral Pigeon from the 'conservation' licence and Wood Pigeon also from the 'public health' licence. 
 
General licences should have conditions attached to them but they are often seen as giving carte blanche to anyone with a gun to kill the listed birds on sight. We have written to DAERA pointing out what we regard as a large number of legal flaws in their licences which, in our opinion, render them unlawful. We expect DAERA to make further legal changes to the licences before issuing the new licences in September.
 
Removing species from the licences is a good way to reduce casual killing of these species considerably. Removal from the general licence does not prevent all killing of the de-listed species, but will mean that people wanting to kill that species will have to apply for an individual licence which should not be granted unless the circumstances comply with the law and stringent conditions as to numbers of birds, place and time should be set.
 
The consultation is open to anyone, and we would encourage you to respond to it, but we would particularly encourage Wild Justice supporters based in Northern Ireland to respond, please. 
 
It only takes five minutes to fill in the form, it's mostly some simple details about yourself and then a lot of tick boxes that are self-explanatory. You may wish to respond in that way now, and that would be very helpful, but there is a box for further comments and we will be considering what we think it would be helpful to include in that box and will tell you what we think in a future newsletter before the end of July. 
 
If you like what we are doing then please consider making a donation through PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here

That's it for now.

Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

 

Photo credit: Wood Pigeon, Tim Melling.


Sunday, 4 July 2021

New kind of carnivorous snail in India


Tiger touch for India's newest snail recorded
The "snail of Sahyadri" recorded for the first time from Maharashtra's northern is carnivorous. But that is not its only indirect link with the big striped cat.

Out of place animals in Wales

 The raccoon dog, panthers, wallaby and other creatures that made a run for it in Wales

From mystical big cats to captured raccoon dogs, there's always a chance that ... A big cat consultant and expert, Danny Nineham, said at the time: "It's ..

Friday, 2 July 2021

Wild Justice #67

 


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Message Body

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Good morning,
 
Near the end of May we sent out newsletter 62 which decribed what we believed was a breach of the general licences (we also published an account on our blog). The events which we reported to DEFRA were published in the Shooting Times on 10 February in an article which purported to describe a day's shooting where a regular columnist describes going out into the countryside in late January to see how many species of mammal and bird he could shoot. He was delighted to shoot 10 species in the day including a Carrion Crow and a Jay (see image above from the article). Those species are only lawfully killed under certain circumstances and with certain conditions. We believed that the shooting of those two birds was potentially unlawful. Today we can provide an update on that matter in this newsletter and on our blog (see here).  
 
At DEFRA's request, we sent the legal and biological dossiers that we had sent to them to Essex Police who investigated. Essex Police have recently told us that they cannot take the case any further as the Shooting Times columnist denies having shot either a Jay or a Carrion Crow despite having described the shots that led to the deaths of these two birds in some detail in his published article.
 
Essex Police tell us that 'With regards to the Carrion Crow and Jay he has stated that, he did not shoot these birds on this day and has a number of frozen/prop birds that he uses in his articles, if he needs to and bases the events on previous incidents or other incidents which have similarities.'.
 
So, assuming, as we will, that this statement is true, the article was not true.  If it had been true then perhaps the court would have been asked to rule on the legality of the action - an action that we would state is unlawful (but since it did not happen in this particular case that is the end of this matter).
 
We intend to ask DEFRA for their view on these matters in general, in case such circumstances arise in future. We have also written to the Shooting Times stating that we regard their publication of a false and misleading article as a breach of the IPSO Editors' Code and seeking a retraction and clarification (see here).
 
We are grateful to Essex Police for their investigation of this matter.
 
Wild Justice has maintained since we first sprang into action in 2019, that much of the killing of birds under the different general licences which exist in the four UK nations amounts to casual killing, too much of which is unlawful. We have made progress in tightening up the general licences, getting some species removed from them, and highlighting the issues that they raise. The article in Shooting Times, now admitted to be false by its author, is a further example of how some shooters appear to believe that the laws work. There is more work to be done by Wild Justice in making sure that the general licences in place fully reflect the requirements of the law.  In that regard, we see that DAERA in Northern Ireland yesterday issued a consultation on their general licences. Wild Justice has been in correspondence with the Northern Ireland authorities about their general licences, which we regard as shockingly bad and unlawful, and that may well be why this consultation is now taking place.  We will update you on Northern Ireland general licences next week.
 
If you like what we are doing then please consider making a donation through PayPal, bank transfer or a cheque in the post - see details here
 
That's it for now - have a good weekend.
 
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay)

Thursday, 1 July 2021

BBC: Covid common in cats and dogs, study finds


 Covid is common in pet cats and dogs whose owners have the disease, research suggests.

Swabs were taken from 310 pets in 196 households where a human infection had been detected.

Six cats and seven dogs returned a positive PCR result, while 54 animals tested positive for virus antibodies.

"If you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would do with other people," Dr Els Broens, from Utrecht University, said.

"The main concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population."


Read on…


BBC: leucistic puffin




IMAGE COPYRIGHTDORA HAMILTON
image captionThe bird's lack of pigmentation is caused by a genetic condition called leucism

A rare white puffin has been spotted on a small island off the Sutherland coast in the Highlands.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) said the bird was first seen on Handa Island in mid-June by seabird fieldworker Dora Hamilton.

The young puffin has only a few black feathers and its bill is largely orange. 

SWT said the bird's lack of pigmentation was caused by a genetic condition called leucism.

The trust manages the island as a wildlife reserve


Read on… 


Saving the Siamese crocodile

 

Siamese crocodile hatchling being held by conservationist

The timeless reptiles running out of time

They are living dinosaurs. 

Siamese crocodiles are truly ancient - one of the final living connections we have to our planet’s long-lost past. For millennia, they have kept themselves to themselves and thrived in peaceful isolation.

But their time is almost up.

There are now just a few hundred left.

In an evolutionary blink of an eye these captivating creatures have been systematically slaughtered for their skin and wiped out from 99% of their former range.

They are now one of the world’s rarest reptiles, thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in Cambodia in 2000.

And despite this terrifying decline, their struggle for survival is scarcely-known.

Siamese crocodiles are skilled natural predators, though their size means that they rarely tackle prey larger than small snakes, frogs and fish. Sadly, instead of being admired for their extraordinary agility and hunting prowess in the same way that we view species like lions and bears, crocodiles are often demonised and misunderstood.

They have faded from public view and been driven to the brink of extinction.

Unless they get help, they won't survive this crisis. Their ancient history will end now - with us - as a damning example of how humanity valued fancy leather over an entire living species. 

But through your donations, we can change that. We can give them a chance.

Through your support we’re carrying out a crucial captive breeding programme in Cambodia and releasing hundreds of Siamese crocodiles into the wild - aiming to double the wild population over the next few years.

We are working closely with local communities to carry out vital research and monitoring, as well as advocating for stricter controls over crocodile farming and trade. Many local communities in Cambodia adore and admire these charismatic creatures, considering them sacred. Now we need to value them too. 

That way, we can save Siamese crocodiles before it’s too late. We can stop these so-called living fossils from going the way of the dinosaurs.

 

Please help save Siamese crocodiles. If everyone reading this donates just £3, you could help fund our crucial captive breeding programme - helping these incredible creatures to thrive in the wild once again. Thank you.

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