The number of readers for my post about the SNH bird killing licences has topped 130,000, and still thousands of visitors are arriving every day, from the UK and around the world.
There is huge indignation about the granting of licences to kill native birds, especially those on the RSPB 'red list' of globally threatened species.
With so much interest in this news, I felt obliged to contact SNH again today in order to get an appropriate response given that such a large number of people are nonplussed at the logic behind the issuing of licences to kill such treasured birds as Robins, Swallows, Swifts and even Skylarks.
SNH had previously told me that none of the licences they had issued had related to endangered birds - clearly this was not true - and today I challenged them on this point.
This afternoon I received a reply which I will publish in full here. I feel it neither adequately explains the culling of 'red list' species nor does it reflect in any way the strong public concern over the decisions of SNH which many feel are ill-judged and out of kilter with the conservation efforts we expect to see in 2018.
Also below is a link to a petition started by Henry Wilkie which aims to overhaul SNH and ensure that the decisions it makes are responsible and won't further endanger already threatened species.
The response I received from Scottish Natural Heritage today:-
Dear Mr Endfield
On rare occasions birds on the red list do get into circumstances where they are posing a significant threat to human health and safety. This could be the risk of bird-strike to aeroplanes, a build-up of lethal carbon monoxide by nesting in a boiler flue, or their fouling on food produce, for example. These individual birds need to be removed and a licence is required to do so. Issuing a licence does not automatically mean killing the bird and all alternatives, such as trapping and releasing the bird, or removal of the nest, are exhausted first.
The impact from these licences is absolutely minimal when compared to the other threats that these species face. Often the impact (i.e. a bird lost to the population) has already occurred before the licence is granted, such as when a bird is trapped in a place from which it cannot free itself. Protecting individual birds from any bird species has to be balanced with the need to ensure public safety.
The petition "De-power Scottish Natural Heritage" can be found and signed HERE
Once again, thanks for all your interest and support, it is much appreciated.
Scottish Natural Heritage, the ironically named killers of native wildlife, recently hit the headlines for issuing licences to kill protected Ravens. But it has emerged that they have also been sanctioning the culling of other native - and protected - species.
The shocking figures include the issuing of 30 licences to kill Cormorants and another to exterminate 'an indefinite number of Swifts for public health/air safety'.
Other licences were issued to kill Robins and Swallows while the list also includes House Sparrows, Starlings, Gannets, Kestrels and Grey Partridge to name a few.
According to figures obtained through a freedom of information request, 500 licences to cull were issued last year for a number of reasons including "falconry, aviculture and protecting public health or air safety."
One wonders why the public might need protecting from House Sparrows or Robins....
Quoted in The Scotsman, SNH said “We are confident that all activities carried out under these licences do not affect the conservation status of any of our native species.”
Well it's certainly not going to do them a lot of good either.
It's time to say enough is enough and to investigate and overhaul SNH.
If indeed they are in the business of protecting native wildlife then they are failing massively.
*Please be respectful when commenting and refrain from offensive / threatening language. Thanks for all your support, Jase
With the whole world now aware of the huge problem of plastic in our oceans and the resulting threat to delicate marine ecosystems and wildlife, it is shocking indeed to hear the news that production of fibreglass worldwide is set to increase dramatically in the next few years due in large part to the use of this material in the manufacture of wind turbines.
There were at the end of 2016, more than 3,500 individual turbines in the seas off Europe alone - with nearly 350,000 spinning (albeit intermittently given the nature of wind...) around the world at that time. Now the figure is likely to be substantially more and there is predicted to be a surge in planning applications both in the UK and internationally for vast numbers of new wind farms, onshore and offshore, in the coming years as energy companies take advantage of proposed subsidies, cloaking their decimation of countryside and coast in misleading 'green' marketing spin.
Fibreglass (fibre reinforced plastic) composites are used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades. It is a material that potentially poses the same problems as the other plastics that are filling our oceans and killing our marine life. According to the European Wind Energy Association, in the year 2010 alone, between 110 and 140 kilotons of composites were consumed by the wind turbine industry for manufacturing blades.*
To consider this form of energy as 'green' is to ignore the fact that by installing more and more wind turbines, we are drastically increasing the amount of plastic in the environment. This is particularly worrying in the case of offshore wind farms. Fibreglass is prone to warping, not ideal in a maritime environment, and the material itself has for some time been flagged as a potentially serious health risk.
But perhaps the biggest problem is that fibreglass is very difficult to dispose of and almost impossible to recycle on a large scale. The result - more plastic in the environment - and this time from supposedly 'green' wind turbines.
With the discovery of plastic cable castings - originating from Rampion wind farm in the UK - washed up on a south coast beach last week, this pollution of our seas in the name of green electricity is something to think about.
I'm not a scientist and I'm more than willing for someone within the wind industry to educate me about the recyclability of turbine blades - but for now I see this as just another example of contaminating our seas with plastic - only this time it is pollution flaunting itself as green, ethical and environmentally friendly.
Wind farms are none of those things and far from 'saving the planet' will ultimately only add to its destruction.
*The European Wind Energy Association. "Research note outline on recycling wind turbines blades" (PDF)
When the Vegan Society gleefully awarded 'green' energy company Ecotricity their Vegan Trademark, eyebrows were raised.
How can electricity be 'vegan'? many asked.
According to the Vegan Society, they decided to endorse Ecotricity due to that company's "ability to evidence that 100% of the energy they generate and purchase comes from a combination of onshore and offshore wind and hydro – none of which use animals or animal by-products at any point in the production process."
That's quite a claim given that some of the world's most endangered animals and birds are at risk of extinction due directly to the impact of lethal wind turbines.
Perhaps not so 'animal-free' then.
Ecotricity are trying to appeal to vegan consumers, a growing market sector, by using graphic imagery in advertisements that show ground meat pouring from electricity sockets, warning that other electricity providers use animal by-products in the process of producing electricity. They also offer to make a donation to the Vegan Society for every new customer that signs up with them for their "animal free, 100% green, ethical energy".
Aside from the catastrophic environmental damage that wind farm development causes, for a respected vegan organisation to publicly endorse a method of energy production that is known to kill wildlife is, to my mind, both unethical and inappropriate.
Worldwide, huge numbers of rare birds and bats are massacred by wind turbines each and every year.
At least one red list species, the Great Indian Bustard, is likely to become extinct within a very short time, due to the direct impact of wind farms in India.
Only 150 birds are thought to survive.
Wind farms, constructed within the Bustards' territory, have butchered some of the last remaining individuals on the planet. It's a shameful reflection on a shameful industry.
Closer to home, some of our rarest sea birds such as Puffins and Kittiwakes are likely to suffer due to the ever proliferating offshore wind farms.
Scottish Wild Cats, already in steep population decline, are the latest potential casualty from expanding wind farm development in Scotland's Clashindarroch Forest.
I could go on.
Suffice it to say that wind farms are killing some of the rarest creatures on the planet.
I would ask the Vegan Society to reconsider its decision to endorse an electricity supplier that claims to be 'animal-free', one that at the same time proudly flaunts its wind farm credentials.
Wind energy kills wildlife. Support it and you become part of that problem. I urge everyone, including vegans, to think twice before backing wind energy. How can it possibly promise to be animal-free when turbine blades kill hundreds of thousands of birds each year?
Please do some research, it will certainly give you food for thought.....and it might not be as 'vegan' as you think.....
My petition calling on Natural England to stop sanctioning the killing of English Ravens has nearly 14,000 signatories to date, illustrating the strong public opposition to the cull.
Following two requests for a response from Natural England, I have finally received a lacklustre and curt reply which amounts to something of an insult to the thousands of people who have signed the petition and expressed their concerns.
In what appears to be a 'copy and paste' statement, someone simply calling themselves 'Jim' assured me that this 'is not a cull'. The statement referred only to licences that were issued in the Peak District. No mention at all of Lancashire, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, the other areas where licences to kill these protected birds have also already been issued.
Such a lazy response has done nothing at all to address the very real concerns of a disgusted British public who deserve more than this discourteous message.
I am posting the entire statement here, just to illustrate that Natural England apparently do not hold the views of 14,000 compassionate and intelligent people in a very high regard.
A standard bland and trite statement is frankly not good enough.
The signatories of the petition require a respectful and full response to their enquiry.
This is not it.
The British Government has backed plans to allow nuclear waste to be buried underneath our National Parks, a decision that has caused alarm amongst environmentalists.
Now I'm very much pro-nuclear power, it seems to be the only practical method of producing energy that we currently have, especially when the alternatives are considered.... such as the looney wind turbines that literally cost the earth, polluting the environment and destroying countryside and coast - whilst producing precious little energy.
So, given that we need nuclear energy, we should fully support its further development.
I am however very unsettled by the plan to bury nuclear waste underneath our National Parks, the only remaining areas of protected countryside in our ever more industrialised nation.
Although we can safely assume that nuclear power is considerably more viable than other forms of energy production, nuclear waste remains something of a headache for the industry. With further investment in the nuclear industry - instead of pumping funds into faux-green crackpot schemes like wind farms - we might also assume that processing the by-products will become more efficient and that future nuclear energy production will result in much less waste.
Meanwhile, rather than desecrate what little of our countryside remains, I would propose that we store nuclear waste underneath our towns and cities, areas already desolate when it comes to nature and wildlife.
Human beings have all but eradicated everything natural from our cities by felling trees, exterminating any animal considered to be 'vermin', and concreting over habitat where once urban wildlife survived. And now we want to extend this decimation by burying our waste underneath the last remaining vestiges of wilderness, our National Parks, the final refuge of wildlife and nature in the UK.
I say NO.
It would be unbelievably irresponsible to dump man-made waste in the Lake District or the Peak District or any other of our National Parks.
We should take responsibility for our own waste, we should make sure that our rubbish, when it cannot be re-used, is stored within our own environment. That includes nuclear waste which should be disposed of within the confines of an already industrial landscape, our inner cities and towns.
If that doesn't sit well with the general public, then frankly 'tough'.
We have to be responsible for all the rubbish that we produce. Disposing of any kind of waste in our protected countryside is entirely unacceptable.
The sudden public awareness of our plastic-filled seas (in spite of our obvious decades-long total disregard for that environment) should have taught us something. There are consequences for dumping our waste irresponsibly. And we can no longer plead ignorance.
Governments publicly lament the fate of wildlife and solemnly make promises to protect the environment. But even now in spite of their earnest, but apparently empty, words they are actually considering a plan to dig up our National Parks and turn them into what could be described as huge nuclear landfills.
This is plainly wrong. Have we learnt nothing from the dying oceans? Or do we think that giving up plastic straws and re-using carrier bags is enough of a contribution to saving the planet....?
We need to manage our own waste not hide it in the wilderness, the territory of other species. Until such time as we have developed waste-free nuclear energy, we should be ready and willing to bury nuclear waste under our towns and cities - and certainly not in our National Parks.
It's time to stop investing millions in follies, those silly wind farms and the whims of the misinformed - and instead develop more sensible and long term energy solutions, including more advanced nuclear energy production. Perhaps then we will have no need to defend our last wilderness from the madness of politicians and the selfishness of the human race.
When I'm trying to make sense of life and death - (or as I prefer to call it: life beyond life) - sometimes words will present themselves.
This is a poem that arrived today.
My painting was inspired by a journey to my beloved St. Bees a few years ago. St. Bees is one of my spiritual homes and, as such, an otherworldly destination, much like that in the poem.....
Into The Light (Nothing Is Lost Forever) - A Poem
Sometimes he had closed his eyes
and said a prayer as if he knew
that prayers, like hopes and spirits, rise
in streams of conscious déjà vu.
His life, at times a silent scream;
A butterfly with broken wings,
he lived and died within a dream,
of bittersweet imaginings.
But then he would recall the day,
a morning sun brought sweet release.
The very life that ebbed away
had ushered in a world of peace.
A new existence, nothing's lost,
he knew this place and felt no pain.
He didn't stop to count the cost,
But ran into the light again.
© Jason Endfield 2018
As many of us are currently enjoying the sight of young gulls finding their feet (and wings!) in our towns and cities, this time of year also brings reports of human intolerance and animosity towards these beautiful birds.
In Filey on the Yorkshire coast, not only are police investigating the shooting of several Herring Gulls by some gun-touting idiot, but the local RSPCA had to step in to prevent careless contractors from killing (apparently inadvertently...) dozens of gulls which were inhabiting a derelict building that they were in the process of demolishing. Distressed members of the public had reported seeing dead gulls amongst the rubble.
But the problem is not confined to Yorkshire, nor is gull intolerance only a trait of individuals.
Whole town councils too are becoming hysterical over what they call the gull 'problem'....
Dundee - The Most Hysterical City In The UK?
Dundee appears to be amongst the more absurd parts of the UK when it comes to persecution of urban wildlife. There, fuelled by farcical reports of gulls 'terrorising' the apparently panic-stricken residents, the council have deemed it appropriate to cull nearly 200 gulls. Figures obtained by Dundee's Evening Telegraph show that 174 gulls have been killed so far this year with the number likely to rise.
Dundee council is reported as saying that they are not carrying out a 'cull' but are rather "exercising rights under the Wildlife and Countryside Act".
Hmm. The dictionary definition of 'cull' is " to reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter".
So, in spite of their protestations to the contrary, it seems that Dundee council are indeed carrying out a cull. Why try to dress the slaughter up as something else? Their claims that the gulls pose a significant risk to public safety would be frankly laughable - only there is nothing funny about the mass killing of a supposedly protected species whose population is in steep decline.
Hope Through Education
If incompetent councils continue to act on the demands of a few ridiculous residents then we might as well resign ourselves to a future devoid of urban wildlife.
There is hope, some more enlightened councils have refused to kowtow to the irrational minority.
Meanwhile we as individuals can educate others in our communities to delight in, and respect, these most impressive and misunderstood birds.
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