"The utterly shameful badger cull is an example of a regulatory body that has lost its marbles...."
My recent piece about the RSPB culling animals in the name of conservation got many people talking.
I've been reading the comments that people have posted across social media and on my blog, and I can certainly see that the subject matter polarises opinion.
Healthy debate is good but, like me, many of you see this type of wildlife 'control' as an excuse to kill animals and sometimes perhaps even as a cover for those who actively enjoy hunting.
There seems to be a cold and clinical approach from many of those who support this type of heavily organised 'management' of nature.
Questioning the competence of those who carry out the killing....
I'm not alone in feeling uncomfortable that it is overseen and regulated by a handful of officially sanctioned agencies, some of which have huge financial resources behind them - though perhaps less generous reserves of human-kindness. Can government sponsored agencies be trusted with conserving and protecting our natural resources? I think not. They will have agendas, they are bound to.
We also find ourselves questioning the methods of 'control' and indeed the competence of those tasked with carrying out the killing.
One of those commenting on my blog post, who identifies as a conservationist, referred to animals such as deer, foxes, ravens etc. as 'target organisms', and she suggested that there is no difference between 'bashing and killing bracken' and killing animals.
I found that quite chilling.
Once someone becomes detached from the idea that animals can feel and think, I suppose it is possible to view their extermination as nothing more than 'bashing and killing bracken'. But that's a real problem.
Take the slaughtering of thousands of geese on the Island of Islay, which has been the subject of much controversy, especially after video footage emerged of the Scottish Natural Heritage approved cull. The video showed a startlingly clumsy effort to shoot the geese which left many of them badly injured. The result was that many were cruelly clubbed to death by the (quote) 'experienced professional marksmen' employed by SNH.
Is that really the best, most humane method of conservation we have in the enlightened 21st century?
Based on that example, can we ask whether today's conservation methods are any more humane than those used to club fur seals to death?
And it seems that such blundering killing methods are not confined to geese.
BASC advice on grey squirrels:
empty into a sack and dispatch through a swift, heavy blow to the head.
With new laws about to come into force at the end of next month, making it illegal to rescue and release 'invasive' species, advice from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation suggests that captured grey squirrels should be "emptied into a sack and ...dispatched through a swift, heavy blow to the head".
Imagine the suffering at the hands of inexperienced would-be 'conservationists'....
Social media betrays culture of killing among local 'conservationists'
Take a look at the shocking comments I found on a woodland owners facebook group. Someone had posted about the subject of grey squirrels.
The comments that follow the post are breathtakingly savage and illustrate that if we are not careful, conservation can end up in the hands of those who actually revel in the killing of animals - they make no secret of the fact that they take great pleasure in shooting wildlife.
Here's a typical exchange:
"328 culled in my woods" boasted one member.
This delighted another, "you genocidal murdering psychopath"
To which the squirrel culling 'conservationist' replied, "I know, lol".
Another suggested mixing plaster of Paris with their food...
"How about squirrel food mixed with plaster of Paris? Have some nice little statues"
Even if in jest, is that funny?
These are not just idiots, they are dangerous idiots - and my fear is that they might be typical of those tasked by our national agencies (Natural England, Scottish Natural Heritage, RSPB et al) with 'managing' (ie. exterminating) our wildlife.
Smug and disconnected micro-management of our countryside
If we want to see a carefully managed and controlled environment then we should pay a visit to the zoo, but what we surely don't want is our countryside micro managed by officials sitting at desks in city centre offices, issuing licences to those with dubious intentions and questionable competence, to eradicate specific species based on vague assumptions. It's smug and disconnected from the natural world for which they purport to care.
The utterly shameful badger cull is an example of a callous decision by a regulatory body that has lost its marbles.
Badgers are being scapegoated for the intensive farming that is spreading disease.
Thousands of geese are killed to protect farming interests.
Mountain hares, currently at 1% of their 1950's population, are still being massacred to protect the livelihoods of gamekeepers.
Foxes are labelled a 'pest' even though the majority of young people in this country have never even seen one - and the hunts continue to kill them even though it is against the law.
And, as I've reported, licences are issued to exterminate songbirds because it is easier to kill them than to deter them from getting in the way of human activity.
Is this conservation in the 21st century?
The result of this clinically managed conservation will be an unnatural countryside, inhabited by carefully chosen and 'controlled' species and without the 'pests' that get in the way of the plan.
Support independent wildlife rescues - compassion without discrimination
Time perhaps to lend our support to the many tiny independent wildlife rescues run by dedicated volunteers. They might struggle for funding but they have boundless reserves of kindness and compassion for all of our wildlife.
Humans have always destroyed habitat and persecuted wildlife - and have often tried to justify it under the banner of conservation.
Nothing has changed.
The least we can do is treat any animal, that somehow manages to coexist with us, with kindness and compassion.
And I don't care if I'm labelled a 'deluded townie', or if I'm accused of 'not understanding country ways' - at least I have enough empathy with nature to see that all life is fragile and precious enough to be worth conserving and preserving.
Whatever species it is.
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