Thursday, 26 November 2015

Bird crime in the UK

The RSPB has just published it's annual report on Raptor Bird Crime
And a sickening read it is too, with reports of Shootings, Poisonings and the use of Pole Traps (banned in 1905). There are areas of the UK, such as the Black Isle in Scotland that are described as a black hole for raptors so many have been killed. So what are the UK government, Scottish Government and their respective legal systems doing about this? Well it issues a lot of fines, suspended sentences and the occasional short jail term. So how this compare to other countries? Well how about Spain, recently a Spanish man was found guilty of poisoning 6 imperial eagles and some other birds, he was fined 360,000 Euro and got 18 months in jail, another farmer convicted of killing 11 Kites  got a 90,000 Euro fine and 2 yrs in jail. In comparison a man found guilty of killing 10 Buzzards and 1 Sparrowhawk in Norfolk got a 10 week suspended sentence and a £930 fine. I think it is about time that the UK courts upped their response to wildlife crime, the wildlife is being killed is part of our countries natural heritage and should be protected as such.

Most of the reported crimes against raptors occur around the large shooting estates in the North of England and in Scotland, so it was extremely upsetting and shocking to see the report of the killing of a Rare Red Footed Falcon near where I live in Cambridgeshire
No one has been charged with this crime as of yet and no motive has been found.  This bird has been seen but lots of birders over the last few months, which may have been the problem, birds have been killed in the past because they draw crowds and disrupt local activity, hopefully this is not the case and the culprit will be caught.Obviously if anyone knows anything contact the police or Birders against Wildlife Crime BAWC link opposite.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Antibiotic resistance, pesticides and herbicides

The news that broke today about research in China that shows that some strains of bacteria have developed resistance to the Antibiotic Colistin is really worrying. Colistin has been regarded as the antibiotic of last resort so discovering mutations that are resistant could lead to the end of antibiotics as a means of treatment.

This resistance is also a very good illustration of evolution at work. If you take a population of several Billion bacteria and treat them with an antibiotic you will kill most of them, but if a few survive as they are resistant to it they will multiply producing more resistant microbes. It like the Demestos advert that states 'we kill 99.9% of all germs dead' well it's that 0.1% you need to worry about!

So how does this relate to pesticides? Well the same thing happens, farmers and horticulturists are using masses of specific pesticides and herbicides and 'resistant' crops. It just take a few resistant insects or plant strains to breed, which is far more likely if the bulk of the population has been wiped out and you get a resistant strain. This has already been seen with glyphosate resistant Black grass Alopecurus myosuroides and some insects that are become pesticide tolerant.

I think the answer is that we need to use these drugs or treatments sparingly and carefully. If we do not we could face untreatably epidemics or food shortages.

For further information on the Antibiotic resistance see:

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

News round up

First some good news, it would appear that a Norfolk shooting estate may have lost £221,000 in cross compliance subsidies after one of it's gamekeepers was found guilty of poisoning 10 Buzzards and 1 Sparrowhawk. Sadly he escaped prison but if correct this would be the biggest penalty handed out in the UK. You can read the full story here
Well done to Raptor Persecution Scotland and others for uncovering this story.

There is an epetition on the UK government website calling for a ban on lead shot
While out walking at the weekend one of our dogs came back to us carrying a dead rabbit that had been shot and left in the field, this would be full of lead shot which he would have eaten (given the chance). Other animals and birds such as Red Kite and Buzzards will clear up carrion such as this slowly poisoning themselves. Whilst I am against shooting I except that it will continue along with Clay pigeon shooting for the foreseeable future the least we can make it as environmentally friendly as possible. So please sign the petition if you can.
With last weeks announcement from the UK Meteorological office that the planet has warmed by 1ยบ c and the world Met Organization announce that gobal CO2 levels reached 400ppm earlier in the year it will be interesting to see the result of the inquiry into Exxon being held in New York. It is claimed that they had witheld documents relating to climate change and their products while actively funding denial groups.


Friday, 6 November 2015


It's been any interesting week. On the TV BBC autumnwatch have been showing the arrival of the Barnacle geese at WWT Caerlaverock, whilst up on Islay they are preparing to shoot a quarter of the birds that migrate there. I imagine the production team have had to put done some strong rules about what the presenters can say.

They did however have a supplementary programme that went out online with George Monbiot  talking about rewilding. His argument is to allow area's of the UK to revert to their natural ecosystems by reducing or removing Sheep, Grouse moors, and deer stalking from the uplands and reintroducing keystone species, such as Lynx, Beaver, etc to these areas. You can see George explaining the idea to the National parks here: Time to go wild
Or read his excellent book Feral.

This idea sounds quite idealistic at first but it has been shown to work. The reintroduction of Red Kites and White tailed eagles has been very successful, Wild boar numbers are increasing (from escapes rather than reintroduction) and there are noe Beavers on the river Tay. This week plans were announced to reintroduce Pine Martens into upland forests areas in Wales.  This project could lead the way to reintroduce Red Squirrels as the Martens will predate the greys.