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Disorientated pufflings found hiding in North Berwick

People in North Berwick have been asked to look out for stray pufflings after two were found in the coastal town.

Polly being released back into the wild

It is understood they may have become disorientated by bright lights along the East Lothian coastline.

The Scottish Seabird Centre (SSC) was called to help two of the young birds, one which was spotted hiding under a car and the other in a garden.

As puffling season gets under way, puffins and their young are now leaving their burrows on the Forth islands.

Most of the birds head to sea from Craigleith, Fidra and the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth but some pufflings look for somewhere dark to hide in North Berwick to escape from predators such as gulls.

The SSC and Scottish SPCA have rescued two of the birds and released them back into the wild so far this season.

“Phil” the puffling was found hiding beneath a car on the town’s High Street on 19 July.

A week later Sandra and Ronnie Williams found a puffling, later named Polly, in their garden in the town and kept the bird in a box overnight before handing her over to the SSC.

Tom Brock from the centre said: “It is a crucial time in the puffin season and we want to ensure as many of these wonderful seabirds as possible make it out to sea.

“Pufflings look very different from their colourful parents; they are shades of grey, white and black and their smaller beaks don’t have the characteristic bright colours that the adults have in summer.

“Both puffins and pufflings can be killed and eaten by gulls, which we are also keen to avoid.”

There are bout 5,500 occupied puffin burrows on Craigleith and about 55,000 along the Firth of Forth, with two adults and one puffling for each successful burrow nest.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-33706237

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Charity renews calls to ban snares ahead of the Glorious Twelfth

Animal welfare charity OneKind has revealed that the majority of animals caught in snare traps aren’t those the traps are set for but are often domestic pets.

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The charity revealed 71% of all reports made so far this year to its SnareWatch website have involved non-target species, as it renewed its call for a ban on snares ahead of the Glorious Twelfth – the start of the grouse shooting season.

Snares are used by the shooting industry to protect stocks of game birds yielded for commercial shooting.

However, since the start of the year, the reports received on the website, which allows members of the public to report snare sightings throughout the UK, have shown predominance towards animals which aren’t the intended species, with a high number of reports involving domestic pets.

“The vast majority of reports to SnareWatch involve animals which are not the intended victim of a snare with the predominant species being cats and badgers,” spokesperson Louise Robertson said.

“This grim illustration shows quite how indiscriminate snares are and highlights the scale of the problem with their continued use.”

“OneKind has long campaigned for snares to be made illegal and it’s utterly demoralising to see report after report come in through SnareWatch giving horrific details of animals which have suffered as a result of these primitive and unnecessary traps.

“Despite a tightening of regulations in Scotland the suffering still continues and will keep doing so until snaring is finally banned.”

A review of snaring regulations is due to take place in December 2016 after provisions were made in the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

Article taken from: http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/tfn-news/

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Badger cull could be rolled out to three new regions in England

The controversial badger cull in England could be rolled out to three new regions within weeks, with Natural England currently considering new applications from farmers.

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The culls, intended to curb tuberculosis in cattle, have been piloted for the last two years in Gloucestershire and Somerset. The pilots have repeatedly missed their targets for badgers shot, been judged inhumane and have been dismissed by scientists as a failure.

But farmers insist that the cull must be rolled out further to halt the spread of bovine TB. Conservative environment secretary Liz Truss said after May’s general election that the government was “absolutely” pushing ahead with plans to extend the badger cull.

Three applications to cull badgers in new areas have been submitted by groups of farmers and landowners, a report in Farmers Weekly revealed on Thursday. All three are thought to be in the south-west of England, a TB hotspot. An application for culling in Dorset was previously prepared in case the Gloucestershire and Somerset pilots were not approved.

“There are several areas where farmers are progressing, where they are extremely determined [to get culling licences],” Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers Union, told Farmers Weekly.

Raymond said: “When you think of the costs involved, [farmers] are prepared to go ahead because they believe it is the only future they have to try and eradicate this dreadful disease from their farms in these particular areas. The pressure is on government to issue licences.” Natural England was unable to comment on ongoing license applications.

Professor Rosie Woodroffe, a badger expert at the Zoological Society of London who worked on a landmark 10-year study of badger culling, said: “Culling only reduces cattle TB if badger numbers are greatly reduced over very large areas – and even then any benefits come at a cost of increased cattle TB on neighbouring land.”

“The 2013 and 2014 pilot culls highlighted the difficulties of killing enough badgers to be confident of benefits – none of the culls is likely to have achieved the government’s stated aim of reducing badger numbers by at least 70%,” Woodroffe said. “So the possibility remains that such culling could actually worsen the desperate situation faced by TB-affected farmers.”

In April, the current badger cull lost the support of the British Veterinary Association. It said the shooting of free-running badgers at night had not proven effective or humane. The BVA said some badgers should still be culled, but using the “tried and tested” – but much more expensive – method of trapping the badgers before despatching them.

The 2014 Gloucestershire pilot failed dramatically, killing fewer than half the minimum number required. In Somerset, the minimum target was met, but the target was criticised as “rubbish” and “unbelievably easy” by Woodroffe.

Failing to meet the minimum number of badgers shot risks increasing TB infections in cattle, as disrupted badgers roam more widely. Badger culling was rejected in Wales, where a badger vaccination programme is underway.

Woodroffe is now running a vaccination trial in Cornwall. “Vaccination has reduced infection levels of many other diseases, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do the same for bovine TB,” she said. “We’re also tracking both badgers and cattle to understand how the two species interact. We’re trying to understand how, where and when the contact happens, and investigating which farm management practices might reduce the risks.”

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/24/badger-cull-rolled-out-new-regions-england?CMP=share_btn_tw

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Why are so many cats being poisoned?

Article by Patrick Barkham for The Guardian:

From salmon doused in weedkiller to tinned tuna soaked in antifreeze, an array of nasty poisonings have killed cats recently. Six attacks on two streets in Baxenden, Lancashire, one killing Jaffa, the ginger cat of local MP Graham Jones, have hit the headlines, but the fatalities have been nationwide, from South Shields to Southport.

A domestic cat

Calls to the RSPCA about poisonings increased from 862 in 2013 to 919 in 2014 and already stand at 767 this year. So, why are we dishing out such cruelty to humankind’s second-best friend?

It may be partly that there are many more cats. The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association estimates that their population has nearly doubled from 4.1m in 1965 to 7.9m in 2014.

More cats means more deaths, but a large cat population is also increasingly controversial. Earlier this year, I was savaged online for fantasising about humanely reducing the cat population to zero (it was a thought experiment, your honour), but wildlife lovers from Chris Packham to Jonathan Franzen have highlighted the domestic moggy’s devastating impact on wildlife. Franzen even admitted contemplating stealing a neighbour’s cat and placing it in a cat sanctuary – eventually getting the cantankerous fictional hero of Freedom to perform this dastardly act.

But animal lovers would never deliberately kill cats. Would gardeners risk six months in prison for cruelly killing a cat that soils their blessed plot?

Caroline Reay, chief veterinary surgeon for the pet charity Blue Cross, injects a dose of perspective. “I wouldn’t want to say it’s all hype, but far more cats get run over than poisoned by antifreeze,” she says. Reay believes the poisonings appear to be increasing due to growing awareness – and so vets are more likely to investigate the cause of death.

According to Reay, many poisonings are accidental: cats are given paracetamol by misguided owners or ingest poisonous lily pollen. And antifreeze? If a cat naps under a car and antifreeze drips onto its coat, it will lick it off.

Some cat lovers want a bittering agent added to antifreeze, but cats still lick bitter substances off their coats. Both Reay and Cats Protection suggest solutions that might unite cat lovers and haters: keep your cat indoors at night and get it neutered to reduce its daytime wandering. This will protect it from dangerous roads, as well as from the occasional psychopath with a feline grudge.

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2015/jul/27/why-so-many-cats-being-poisoned

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Scottish SPCA appeal to re-home 27 Shetland ponies

The Scottish SPCA is appealing for horse lovers with big hearts to help re-home 27 tiny Shetland ponies.

Freddie, one of the 27 Shetland ponies which an animal welfare charity are trying to rehome. Picture: PA

The charity took the small ponies into its rescue centre in Aberdeenshire as their previous Scottish Borders-based owner could no longer look after them all.

Staff at the charity’s centre in Drumoak now want people to come along and meet the miniature mustangs in a bid to find them new owners.

Centre manager Graeme Innes said: “These ponies arrived in our care together and we now have the challenging task of finding them all new homes.

“They may be little ponies but we have some really big characters. Rufus, for example, has proven to be a very cheeky boy who will follow people around the field to get a treat and a scratch.

“Casper would be a great pony for a child to groom and cuddle as he will happily stand all day for some attention.”

He added: “Shetland ponies can make wonderful pets but they should never be re-homed on a whim.

“We would ask anyone interested to consider the costs involved in equine ownership and carefully think whether they have the time and resources to care for a pony.

“If anyone is interested in our Shetlands we would be delighted to hear from them.”

Anyone who can offer a Shetland pony a new home is asked to contact the Scottish SPCA’s Aberdeenshire centre on 03000 999 999.

Article taken from: http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/scottish-spca-appeal-to-re-home-27-shetland-ponies-1-3839535