Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Red Kites And Hunters

Sometimes hunting feels like something far away, where scumlord British bankers and US dentists spend their leisure time eradicating endangered wildlife. But the view that we can do what we want to other species is on our doorstep too.

In Wales we're lucky to have the red kite, after concerted efforts to re-establish them. Red kites used to be widespread and common in the UK, but they were gradually killed off by farmers and gamekeepers by the end of the 19th Century.

"Once one of the commonest British birds of prey, the Red Kite became virtually extinct in this country. Farmers, convinced it was taking their lambs, would put down poison to kill it. The rarer it became, the greater became the value of its eggs to collectors in recent years. Today, after a sustained programme of reintroduction and protection, and after the prosecution of a number of illegal egg collectors, the Red Kite is once more a relatively common sight in Wales - if one knows where to look!" (Source)

We need to watch against a recurrence of the short-sighted prejudice of any farmers and gamekeepers who kill birds of prey.

  • Two more red kites found illegally killed in North Scotland (RSPB)
    "Two more red kites have been confirmed by Scottish Government testing to have been illegally killed in north Scotland. [...] Both of these crimes happened shortly after the Spring 2014 illegal poisoning incident that killed at least 12 red kites and 4 buzzards on the Black Isle near Conon Bridge."
  • Probe after the first sea eagle nest in a century is destroyed (Herald Scotland)
    "The pair of white-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, had been under observation by RSPB Scotland for several months after being released into the east of Scotland in collaboration with local land-owners. Officers were delighted when they constructed a nest – the first built in Scotland for more than a century – but have been left dismayed after discovering in January the tree had been felled. [...] Invermark Estate, which offers fishing, deer stalking and game shooting, has rejected any suggestion its employees were involved in destroying the nest."
  • Government licensed secret buzzard egg destruction, documents reveal (Guardian)
    "A government agency has licensed the secret destruction of the eggs and nests of buzzards to protect a pheasant shoot [...] The action sets a historic precedent, being the first time such action has been licensed against any bird of prey to protect game shoots since raptors gained legal protection decades ago. Buzzards are recovering from near extinction."
To end with some good news: the League Against Cruel Sports is over 90 years old! Nine decades of campaigning against the horror of cruel sports, with much achieved along the way. In the video below they look through their archives and celebrate their successes.

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