Tag Archive | RSPCA

Badger cull begins in Somerset

A controversial badger cull in Somerset is under way despite protests, the National Farmers’ Union has confirmed.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire, in an attempt to control TB in cattle.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

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The RSPCA said it was “saddened” and anti-cull protesters have held a vigil.

It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week.

In a letter to members, National Farmers’ Union President Peter Kendall said: “I am writing to let you know that the first pilot badger control operations have begun.

“This is an important step not just for cattle farmers but for the whole farming industry.

“I know that many of you reading this will have suffered the misery of dealing with TB on farm – some of you for decades – and I hope now you will feel that something is finally being done to stem the cycle of infection between cattle and badgers.

“I hope that when time shows that these culls have reduced TB in cattle – just as has happened in Ireland – that even more people will understand that while sad, these culls are absolutely necessary.”
‘Completely unscientific’

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But an activist from Forthampton near Tewkesbury, who would only give her name as Lynne, said the cull was “utterly unacceptable” and described it as the “extermination of the badger on British soil”.

“We’re planning a call-out of the whole country and expect people from all walks of life to come down to do all that they can to save lives,” she said.

“There will be a mix of both interfering with the cull and protest walks wearing fluorescent vests.”

Lynne said she did not believe the cull represented the democratic point of view and that it was “completely unscientific”.

“Whether domestic or wild, they have a right to live as much as we do,” she said.

“When badgers flee the cull zone, infected badgers may go into free zones.”

Following the NFU announcement, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “We know that despite the strict controls we already have in place, we won’t get on top of this terrible disease until we start dealing with the infection in badgers as well as in cattle. That’s the clear lesson from Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the USA.

“That is why these pilot culls are so important. We have to use every tool in the box because TB is so difficult to eradicate and it is spreading rapidly.

“If we had a workable vaccine we would use it.

“A vaccine is at least 10 years off.”

‘Sensible policies’

Mr Paterson denied suggestions from anti-cull campaigners that the government was simply trying to appease the farming community.

“I’ve been looking at this since 2000 – and the bacterium spreads from animals to humans,” he said.

“We’re following successful and sensible policies in other countries.

“In the Republic of Ireland the disease was rocketing until they began to cull. Now there’s a significant reduction in the disease.

“I want to end up with healthy cattle living alongside healthy wildlife.”

Dominic Dyer, of Care for the Wild, which opposes the cull, said the badger population like any other would go through good and bad times.

“There’s no scientific or economic justification for the cull and it may make the spread (of TB) worse not better.

“This is killing without protection – they’re not even testing (the culled animals) for TB and they’re only monitoring the cull of a small number.

“It’s an absolute scandal.”

‘Misguided attempt’

The RSPCA said it was “deeply saddened to learn that the pilot badger cull has begun and that hundreds of animals are now being shot in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire”.

Chief executive Gavin Grant referred to the cull as a “misguided attempt to control bovine TB in cattle” and said the organisation was “seriously concerned that the methods being used to kill the badgers are not humane”.

“As we speak thousands of innocent animals are being culled in our countryside – and we do not know the extent of their suffering or how humane the methods being used to kill them are.

“It is very likely that many of them are lying injured, suffering a painful death.

“The most tragic thing is that this suffering is so needless.

“Science has shown that this cull is not the answer to bovine TB in cattle. In fact, it could make things a lot worse.

“Vaccination and better bio-security are the only sustainable and true ways forward.”

High-velocity rifles

Police officers were earlier sent to parts of Gloucestershire to “provide reassurance” after speculation the cull was imminent.

And Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan said his force had been preparing for the start of the cull for some time.

“There’s been a good relationship between Avon and Somerset Constabulary and our neighbours Gloucestershire Police, as well as the Home Office and Defra,” he said.

“It’s their call not ours, but we understand we have a supporting role in ensuring that this democratically-elected government can push its programme forward… and similarly to ensure that people who want to protest within the law are able to do so.”

The cull will involve the animals being shot in the open by marksmen using high-velocity rifles. The badgers will not be trapped in cages first.

Article

David Cameron’s local hunt convicted after RSPCA prosecution (Guardian 17.12.12)

Prime minister has ridden with Heythrop Hunt, which admitted intentionally hunting a fox with dogs

Heythrop Hunt

Members of the Heythrop Hunt in the Cotswolds. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Members of the David Cameron‘s local Oxfordshire hunt have been convicted of hunting foxes illegally in a prosecution brought by the RSPCA.

Richard Sumner, 68, and Julian Barnfield, 49, of the 176-year-old Heythrop Hunt with which Cameron has previously ridden, each pleaded guilty at Oxford magistrates court to four charges of unlawfully hunting a wild fox with dogs. The hunt, Heythrop Hunt Limited, also pleaded guilty to the same four charges of intentionally hunting a fox with dogs on land in the Cotswolds.

Outside court, Barnfield, a former huntsman with the Heythrop, claimed the prosecution had been politically motivated because of its links with Cameron’s Witney constituency. He said he believed the animal charity was trying to put pressure on Cameron “not to give a free vote” in parliament in any future debate on the Hunting Act, and to embarrass the prime minister.

Members of the so-called Chipping Norton set – an influential group of MPs and media professionals who live in the area – who have links to the Heythrop include the prominent supporter and racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks, husband of the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks. Their neighbour Jeremy Clarkson, the Top Gear presenter, has reportedly allowed the hunt to use his land and is among locals photographed at the Heythrop’s country fair. The prime minister is understood to have ridden with the hunt on six occasions before the legislation came into force.

The prosecution followed footage taken by anti-hunt monitors over four days during the 2011-12 season.

The court heard hounds had been encouraged to chase foxes, which is banned under legislation which came into force in 2005.

Barnfield and Sumner, a former hunt master, have since retired from their positions.

Jeremy Carter-Manning QC, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said the hunt was filmed on several occasions in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire during November last year and in February and March this year by members of the Protect Our Wild Animals group. Footage was passed to the RSPCA. It is believed to be the first prosecution of a hunt itself under the legislation, which abolished the hunting of foxes with hounds in almost all circumstances and, in particular, traditional fox hunting.

Footage shown to the court of an incident on 29 February showed evidence of “prolonged and deliberate unlawful hunting”, said Carter-Manning.

After a fox ran past hunt monitors, who were recording footage from a road nearby, Barnfield drew up on horseback. “Two route-followers indicated to Mr Barnfield the direction in which the fox had run. He immediately blows the hunting horn and enters the field as directed,” said Carter-Manning. Barnfield and another man then gave vocal encouragement to the remainder of the pack, shouting “tally ho” and “forrard”.

In a subsequent piece of film, recorded 40 minutes later, monitors are heard shouting: ‘There’s a kill, there’s a kill,” and: “Call the police.”

Describing the events, Carter-Manning said: “The hounds converge into semi-circles and the screaming [of the hounds] reaches a crescendo. The hounds are making a kill.”

On another occasion, in March, footage shot by a volunteer shows hounds beginning to squeal as they try to flush out a fox from dense cover, “and then almost immediately afterwards a double horn”.

Further footage captures the hounds pursuing a fox and cries of “on, on, on” from the mounted hunt. Barnfield was “filmed quite clearly amongst the pursuing hounds shouting ‘on, on, on’ in obvious encouragement”, said Carter-Manning.

Philip Mott QC, mitigating, said the charges related to four occasions within the full hunting season between November 2011 and March this year. During that period there would have been around 100 hunts, each lasting some five hours. “What you have here is unlawful hunting, shown and admitted, of no more than 15 minutes in total,” he said.

“It is our case that the rest of the time this hunt was operating trail hunting.”

Barnfield, of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, was fined £250 for each charge, totalling £1,000, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000. Sumner, of Salperton, Gloucestershire, was fined a total of £1,800 with costs of £2,500. The Heythrop Hunt Limited was fined a total of £4000 with £15,000 costs. All three were ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

Following the hearing, the RSPCA’s chief executive, Gavin Grant, said: “These defendants were well aware that they were breaking the law in that their actions would lead to a fox being torn apart by dogs.

“No doubt the hunt will say that those involved have now left and they have no knowledge of this crime,” he added. “The truth is this hunt believed that they were above the law – they were wrong.”

The anti-hunt monitors who shot the footage thanked the RSPCA for having the “foresight and courage to take on the prosecution”.

Outside court, Barnfield said he had only pleaded guilty because he could not afford to fight the £327,000 case the RSPCA had mounted.

“We conceded because the money wasn’t there to defend ourselves. I would like to stand there and defend it but there was no way it was possible.

“I am staggered by it all. The fact that a charitable body can take on this political thing and spend so much money which other people have given them for another thing is stunning.”

Attributing political motivation to the animal charity, he added: “They could have picked on any other hunt but they picked on Heythrop because we are in David Cameron’s constituency.

“I think they are trying to put pressure on him not to give a free vote like he said he would, to embarrass him in some way.”

Since 1835 the Heythrop Hunt, one of the most high-profile in the country, has been an intrinsic part of the Chipping Norton community. Huge Boxing Day crowds gather to see it in Chipping Norton Square as one of the market town’s Christmas traditions. In 2003, Cameron, recalled a day out with the Heythrop, saying: “Nothing had prepared me for the sheer terror of a day’s hunting. I battled in vain to control my powerful steed and careered through trees and bushes – completely out of control.”

Original article

Video “Fox killed by Cameron’s hunt” (Guardian link)

Ledbury Hunt filmed killing fox

Taken from the Hereford Heckler November 29th

It seems that not a weekend goes by without a hunt getting negative press or showing their truly outrageous colours.

A couple of weeks ago we reported on the case of Lee Peters, the huntsman of the Ross Harriers Hunt, who was found guilty of racially abusing a hunt saboteur. Last week the Hereford Times also reported on he case, yesterday putting their story online.

Last weekend a video appeared on Youtube, showing hunt monitors literally saving a fox from the jaws of hounds.

Now this week, a graphic video has been released showing the hounds of the Ledbury Hunt killing a fox on Friday 13rd November.”

A Hunt Saboteurs Association press release on the horrendous incident said:

“Graphic footage of the Ledbury Hunt killing a fox has today been released. The incident happened on the 23rd November 2012 in a private garden in Eldersfield, Gloucestershire and was captured on film by members of Three Counties and Coventry Hunt saboteurs.

They were sadly too late to rescue the fox, but one did obtain film of the hounds repeatedly savaging the animal for a protracted period, whilst she and a colleague attempted to get the dogs off it. It is unclear at what point the fox succumbed to its multiple wounds, but when they were able to retrieve the animal from the pack it had been effectively disembowelled.

Footage of the kill, and from beforehand, is being examined by lawyers from the RSPCA to determine if there are grounds for prosecution under the Hunting Act. Results of a post-mortem are being withheld pending a decision.”

To take action against fox hunting, visit:

Hunt Saboteurs Association

Badgers being killed illegally in Gloucestershire

KenGoodwinITV: RSPCA releases pics of five illegally killed badgers dumped next to M5 motorway near Elmstone Hardwick, Gloucs. http://t.co/0qQMYB8i
Aug 28, 2012, 15:20 UTC