Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports

Rapping with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs, about new rules, the possible return of hunting, and their battle against badger culls….

After a rant in the week, concerning Danny Kruger’s either forgetful or mediocre disregard to the facemask rule extended to an all-purpose bleat questioning the true motives of many of these everchanging Covid19 regulations, I bought up this exemption for hunting and shooting wildlife from the rule of six. For seems to me to be symbolic of this notion they’re using Covid19 as an excuse to return us to an era of yore; tally ho! Let’s go butchering innocent wildlife again what what.

Exemption depends solely on Boris’s personal preference, and he loves to shoot a grouse or three.

With the Mendip Hunt Sabs reporting a demonstrator was seriously assaulted just yesterday, when rocks were thrown at vehicles, surely, it’s advisable campaigning against cruel sports is best done by safety in numbers. Ergo, the rule of six makes protesting the hunting either illegal or risky for the individual, so I contacted Wiltshire Hunt Sabs and we had a nice chat. They agreed; “along the lines of exempting hunts from illegally gathering, so they can carry on illegally hunting,” they replied. “So, effectively turning the law banning hunting on its head. Which is what the conservatives have wanted for ages.” Bingo.

It took a few days to touch base with the sabs, as it’s badger culling season, and they were out. They excused my ignorance on the matter, explaining while grouse shooting is the news, it doesn’t happen in Wiltshire. “Grouse shooting normally happens on moors, they shoot red grouse,” they told me, “grouse aren’t reared, they live on moorlands. Loads of pheasant shoots around here, though.  Pheasants are bred and reared for purpose.”

But pheasant doesn’t cause agriculture a problem, I’m going to find an angle on this tricky disco, as they shoot them for food, and I’m far from vegan; love a bacon butty, me! “With pheasants,” they explained, “despite what they claim, huge swathes of them end up in stink pits, they kill far more than they can possibly eat. I’ve seen one with my own eyes.”

Yep, my suspicions check out; bloodthirsty carnage dressed up as an obligatory pageant, the lot of it. Still, I’m in the dark about the Hunt Sabs’ priorities, and how they go about their operations. The concentration of our chat centred on the badger cull, a practise which can be avoided if funds were available for vaccination; like yeah, magic money tree you might cry. The Wildlife Trust reports the tax payer coughed up £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers between 2012 and 2014, equating to £6,785 per badger. By contrast, in the same time period, vaccination would cost just £293 per badger.

It also goes onto say cattle-to-cattle transmission remains the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB in cattle, and culling badgers’ risks making the problem even worse. “The Government has undermined the scientific credibility of its own research,” the Wildlife Trust explain, “by repeatedly changing targets and methods. As a result, no definitive scientific conclusions can be drawn from the pilot culls, as the scientific evidence used to justify them is highly selective.” The badger cull does not have the support of scientists, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) or the public; so how to go about protecting our wildlife?

“The cull is licenced by Natural England,” the Sabs tell me. “The licences last four years, although they are only authorised to shoot between certain dates; usually a 6-8-week period which begins in September. There are groups who protest and groups who take direct action.  Obviously as sabs we take direct action, but will also undertake other forms of protest too.”

And the direct action is to what, get in their way or disrupt the shoot, I asked. “Well usually it involves looking for cages as well,” they enlighten me, “there are people who deal with them.  Shooters can be dealt with by protestors too, simply being present on a footpath in a field they intend shooting in is enough to stop them.”

I plead they excuse my ignorance, not knowing they used traps. It must piss the cullers off, protesters wandering the footpath. I wondered if they ever get violent as we’ve seen the fox hunters do. “Not really,” came the reply, “they are generally better behaved because they have firearms.  Any aggressive behaviour on their part would lose them their licence.” Being the only justifiable reason for killing a badger, I can see, is a trigger-happy obsession akin to a redneck with a Biden supporter on his dude ranch, I can see taking away their toys might be a preventative. Unless of course, you can rationalise otherwise, given the Wildlife Trust’s evidence?

Technically then, with a badger cull here in relative placate Wiltshire, the good news is, at least, they don’t need “safety in numbers” and could abide by the rule of six. “We usually work in twos or threes as we can get more ground covered,” the Sabs say.

How can people help? You could buy Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs a coffee, see here. But what if you found a cage on a walk? Should you damage it, or take it home to trash? The sabs advise against this. “I personally wouldn’t recommend just asking people to trash cages,” they instruct. “They aren’t easy to trash, and it’s a criminal offence. Better that people contact the page if they find one and take a 10-figure grid reference or what3words.”

Badgers are nocturnal, like me; they’re my work buddies. Traps, I cry, lightweights. If it is a sport, as they claim, it should therefore be a fair challenge and they should drag their malicious and over-privileged arses out of their beds in the wee hours to chase them, rather than have a pop at them during their bedtime. That’s like the ref allowing Arsenal to wait for Tottenham to get back on their coach before aiming for top bins!

Save badger culls though, wildlife protectors still have the legal upper hand, and police will attend and arrest those flouting the law. Wiltshire Police made an arrest during an operation into bird of prey persecution in Beckhampton and Pewsey on Wednesday, for example. PC Marc Jackson of Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said, “following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards. The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities. Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward. We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations.”

While it might not look good for Natural England’s preposterous project to reintroduce hen harriers to southern England, the struggle to uphold our preservation and protection for wildlife against a government which appears to warrant a return of fox hunting and blood sports sadly continues. And if other’s concern for animal welfare enrages you enough to throw your toys out of the pram, sadly social distancing measures will follow.


No Surprises Living in Devizes: Conkers or Bonkers?

Around this season in years gone by, kids yielding nailed planks and discarded house-bricks gathered in the suburban scrapheap where I grew up. No, it wasn’t something as vicious as a rival school skirmish, that would’ve been later in the term. They congregated unsupervised at the aptly named Chestnut Crescent, to lob items into trees.

 

The parameters of health and safety would’ve been a call to “watch out,” while children launched said items, wrecked go-karts and toddlers airborne. Those who dared scramble the shelling zone would collect spoils the big kids disregarded. There was no more order then this; if you were hit you learned a lesson, for the sake of conkers.

 

 

Next day my Dad would search his shed for his screwdriver, while mum was adamant she wouldn’t put the cooker on just to bake conkers. But, mention the game to kids these days, they’d probably search Google Play-Store on their tablets; “nope Dad, no such game exists; you’re making it up.”

 

Kids don’t play conkers, it’s vanished along with concrete playground floors and triangular shaped flapjack, because we’re health and safety conscious, aren’t we?

 

Yeah right, not while a nation sinks under hurricanes, yet insists “god’s punishing us for electing a Muslim president.” I watched a video on this; Middle Americans witnessed their town submerged, even remarked it’s happening more frequently, awaiting Trump to slip his undercrackers outside his suit, don a cloak and save the day.

 

They really believe climate change is a hoax; the word of a xenophobic, chauvinistic melted figurine of He-Man, who scrapped Obama’s flood protection standards days prior to Harvey, over scientists.

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We’ve gone from conkers to bonkers. What do scientists gain from fibbing? What about crocked politicians in bed with the energy industry? Hum… tricky.

 

That insane trigger-happy President is proof alone we’re far from health and safety conscious, with 6,800 nuclear warheads at his disposal, compared to North Korea’s four; he can’t be trusted with a Twitter account, let alone a nuclear arsenal.

 

“Don’t throw that triangular shaped flapjack son, it might be dangerous.”

 

“Don’t vote for selfish, warmongering pricks Dad, it might be slightly more dangerous.”

 

And we follow them like sheep, desperate for a trade deal because we wanted our cake and to eat it. If Middle Americans believe it, we’re never far behind.

 

So, don’t be giving me H&S assurances, not while we speed like a bat out of hell with blatant disregard, while rotting conkers line pavements and gardens; take this as a metaphoric Brexit remark, or a literal stab that we drive too fast, I’ve overtaken caring; conkers to bonkers, see?

 

From Rotherstone residents rightfully wishing to close their road to cars, to the stretch from Honey Street to Woodbrough being upgraded, existing chicanes outside the school being treated as a challenge rather than a traffic calming measure. It’s called Broad Street, not Brands Hatch. Past tragedies seemingly forgotten, our need to get to work paramount; time is money.

 

We must stop this craziness and slow down, it really is this simple. Why even make a car with a hundred on the clock? Yet, mention an electric car or bike and we quiver; the prospect to skid in a climate change conspiracy theory puddle.

 

Step in Sustainable Devizes, using their (third Saturday) monthly stall in the Shambles yesterday to promote their Next Generation Vehicles Show, to be displayed at the Market Place on Saturday 30th, from 9am to 3pm. Working to reduce the town’s carbon footprint, they invite you to throw off the stigma, come see, and test drive, a large variety of electric vehicles, from hybrid cars to scooters.

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Over the winter Sustainable will be hosting a variety of talks at the Quaker Meeting House, starting on 11th October’s discussion on Food Assemblies. Being Devizes is breaking the limit for nitrous oxide emissions, we owe it to the future, rather than continue the current slack attitude; we can’t even be trusted to park responsibly.

 

It’s all fun on the Parking like a Muppet Facebook page, but the shebang appears to have attracted Traffic Wardens on overtime.

 

Once a free-parking day, sparks flew on social media as a photo of a traffic warden who either appeared to be working on a Sunday, or least playing a game on his mobile.

 

Comments roared about changing times. I dispatched an email to Mrs Bilella, processing officer of Wiltshire Council’s parking services, asking why this has suddenly come to pass, being Sunday has always been free to park in Devizes and inquiring about changes; signs don’t display this information.

 

The reply was prompt but vague, “Officers have always worked on Sundays; this has not changed. There will be a consultation soon regarding parking charges, this will be available at libraries, online and local newspapers.”

 

Within the day I asked to be sent the details, but was told, “Please check the website for more details,” which I searched but found nought. I commented on the post, asking the tagged traffic warden if he was merely checking for Muppets, or parking fees had been secretly introduced. I inquired, more importantly, his high score on Snake. But commenting on the post was turned off prior to his reply; I bet Joanne Moore doesn’t have these problems, but she reports, I’m just here to wind you up!

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So, I’ve no idea what’s what; park like a Muppet and face changing consequences for all I care. More professional whinger, Iain Wallis rightfully ranted it’s, “become a target for raising parking charges where other similar towns pay half what we do, and see no rise. Is it because we’re doing markedly better than other towns? Or is it because we seem to try and stand apart from Wiltshire Council?”

 

Mr Wallis suggested the proposed increase is, “a fudging of the law to allow rural bus route funding, when the road traffic act specifically forbids using parking charges to top up other budgets.” The concern the consultation will affect business in town; no surprises there.

 

Traffic wardens don’t receive fair representation, but I’m not here to set any records straight. Sorry guys, but it’s when you say, “just doing my job sir.” Well don’t; find another job, go cull badgers, or something more productive.

 

Here’s another annoyance; cull puppies too, they bite. No, love puppies, but not badgers; out of sight out of mind. I see them, every morning, they’re my work buddies, with their silly waddles; until, because of our persistence to speed, they’re roadkill.

 

Until we slow down we’re wiping out enough of this beautiful wildlife already, and without sufficient research to prove a cull will cure bovine TB in cattle, we’ve no right to go through with this. Wait for scientist’s reports, or we mirror Middle-Americans, wailing climate change is a hoax while neck deep in flooding.

 

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