Farmers and landowners’ views sought on return of lynx

Farmers and landowners have been asked for their views on a proposal to bring back lynx to parts of Scotland and England.

Lynx cub

The Lynx UK Trust has suggested trial reintroductions in Aberdeenshire, Argyll, Northumberland, Cumbria and Norfolk.

It said the plan has public support and research it commissioned sets out benefits of the big cats’ return.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has previously raised concerns.

Scottish Natural Heritage, which is funded by the Scottish government, has also said reintroductions were “complex” and needed “considerable planning” to meet UK and international guidelines.

Lynx became extinct in the UK 1,300 years ago.

The Lynx UK Trust said 91% of 9,000 respondents to a survey it carried out were in favour of lynx being brought back to help control deer numbers.

AECOM, consultants the trust commissioned to examine the benefits of lynx, have suggested that the cats could benefit eco-tourism as well as prevent deer from damaging crops.

The trust said it now wants to hear views from landowners and farmers.

Dr Paul O’Donoghue, of the trust, said: “Lynx reintroduction is a big step for all of us in the UK and this is the opportunity for a wide range of groups to really understand what it could mean, how they could be affected, and to tell us and the statutory agencies how they feel about it.”

‘Big concerns’
Other organisations, including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life and Rewilding Britain, have separately said lynx could form an important part in “rewilding” areas of the UK.

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has in the past weighed up the pros and cons of bringing back the big cats, and also wolves and bears.

Of the three predators, lynx were deemed to have the least negative impact on farmers’ businesses.

NFU countryside adviser Claire Robinson said reintroductions raised “big concerns” for farmers in England.

She said: “Any species introduction, particularly if it has not been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers.

“The environment has changed drastically and we do not know how lynx would behave in the current environment.

“But the biggest concern we have would be the impact on farm animals with lynx preying on lambs, poultry and outdoor piglets – those animals are farmers’ livelihoods.”

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-34649320


Justice department to consider Northern Ireland animal cruelty register

Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice is examining the feasibility of a central register for people convicted of animal cruelty offences.

Note: not an animal cruelty case. Just a very cute hamster.

Note: not an animal cruelty case. Just a very cute hamster.

It would share conviction data with animal re-homing charities, the Department of Agriculture and councils.

Justice Minister David Ford is also increasing statutory maximum penalties for those convicted of harming animals.

Animal cruelty will also be added to a list of offences that can be referred to the Court of Appeal.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34653911


Probe launched after red squirrel shot in Lockerbie

An investigation has been launched after a red squirrel was shot in the south of Scotland.

red squirrel

The animal was discovered dead in a field near Lockerbie on 21 September.

A man carrying an air rifle over his back was seen in the area close to where it was found at Gallaberry Road, near Torwood Road.

The Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland have appealed for help in tracing those responsible for the crime.

An undercover inspector with the animal charity’s special investigations unit said a post-mortem examination confirmed the squirrel was shot.

He added: “A male suspect was seen in the area cycling with what is believed to have been an air rifle or similar in a gun slip worn over his back.

“He is described as being of stocky build and was wearing a camouflage hat and jacket.”

Red squirrels are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure them.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-34656585


Bullfighting victory in European Parliament

Article below relates to EU level issue, but vote was undertaken by UK MPs, many of whom have spoken out against this ridiculous scheme and are now celebrating this victory:

Animal lovers and agriculture stakeholders today gained a victory in the European Parliament as MEPs voted to end indirect subsidies for bullfighting.


Currently, subsidies from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) allow Spanish (and some Portuguese and French) farmers to use Single Farm Payment on hectares used to rear bulls used in the fights. An amendment passed today that means the European Parliament has voted against this use, and was followed by an astonishing victory of 438 votes to 199 on the non-binding resolution that says ‘CAP appropriations or any other appropriations from the budget should not be used for the financing of lethal bullfighting activities’.

Alyn Smith, Scotland’s voice on the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said:

“Parliament now calls for the eradication of public money boosting the coffers of farmers who raise animals that are destined for a slow, painful and bloody end.

“According to the 2013 report “Toros & Taxes”, compiled by Spanish MEPs, without these subsidies, bullfighting ‘would probably be on the brink of financial collapse’.

“Ordinarily, I would say that the internal matters of another country are the business of that country and its people, but it is unacceptable for Scottish taxpayers to subsidise activities which are in flagrant contradiction of our common animal welfare goals.

“Now it’s over to the Member States to back the Parliament, and I call upon DEFRA Minister George Eustice to back us so we can stamp out subsidies for this cruel bloodsport once and for all.”

Alyn ran a petition in 2013 to end bullfighting subsidies, which was submitted to the European Commission after gathering 12,000 signatures.

In 2014, Alyn’s group proposed a budget amendment that would stop farmers from using CAP subsidies for rearing bulls but, despite a majority of MEPs voting in favour, they failed to reach the qualified majority of 376 (50% of all MEPs + 1)

Article taken from: http://www.alynsmith.eu/bullfighting_victory_in_european_parliament


Four UK bird species including puffins ‘face extinction’

Puffins are among four UK bird species now at risk of extinction, according to the latest revision of a global conservation database.


Atlantic puffins, European turtle doves, Slavonian grebes and pochards are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for birds.

This means the number of UK species on the critical list has doubled to eight.

Another 14 UK species are considered to be “near threatened”.

Martin Harper, conservation director with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said the “global wave of extinction is now lapping at our shores”.

“The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African elephant and lion, and being more endangered than the humpback whale,” he said.

Although the Atlantic puffin population is still in the millions, fewer young birds are surviving to breed.

This has led to them being listed as vulnerable to extinction, the lowest of three categories behind critically endangered and endangered.

A decline in turtle dove numbers across Europe of more than 30% in the past 16 years has also made it vulnerable to extinction.

UK birds that have been added to the near-threatened list include oystercatchers, lapwings, the curlew sandpiper and bar-tailed godwit.

They join species already listed such as the black-tailed godwit and curlew.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34664385


Ban cruel and deadly trade in dogs reared in puppy farms, demand vets

Animal rights campaigners are calling for a change in the law to stop the sale of dogs from puppy farms.Tricolour Border Collie pup

Vets in London say they are treat dozens of young dogs every year that have come from irresponsible breeders. The animals suffer illnesses associated with unhygienic conditions and genetic disorders linked to inbreeding.

Farms typically house up to 200 bitches which are used to breed puppies as quickly as possible. The litters are often transported at too young an age, from as far as eastern Europe as well as from sites in the UK and Ireland.

They are exploiting demand for breeds such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, teacup Yorkshire terriers and West Highland white terriers.

Jerry Dunne, a vet at Medivets in Hendon, said: “There is poor hygiene in puppy farms. Sixty per cent of puppies brought to us die or are put down because of poor husbandry, inbreeding and because they are malnourished. They often have genetic illnesses.”

TV vet Marc Abrahams has been lobbying ministers to ban pet shops from selling puppies supplied by farms and set up an e-petition that received 100,000 signatures and led to the issue being debated in parliament.

He said: “Puppy farms will house up to 200 breeding bitches in an agricultural shed, not socialised, well fed, or vaccinated. They rarely go outside. They’re kept on shavings in the dark. They are bred on every heat and the puppies are removed about every four weeks because there’s an urgency to sell them while they’re cute.”

How to buy a healthy puppy

  • Never buy a puppy that is under eight weeks old.
  • Don’t buy from someone who offers to deliver or meet you with the puppy.
  • Visit it more than once with its mother in the place where it was born.
  • Check for signs the adult dog has recently given birth such as enlarged mammary glands and for items to suggest the puppy was born there, like a whelping pen, food bowls and bedding.
  • Choose a puppy that’s alert and happy interacting with you and its litter-mates.
  • Check for symptoms of illness such as runny eyes or nose, weakness or hunching.
  • Examine vaccination records carefully.

Stefano Skert, 45, who works out of hours at South London Emergency Veterinary Centre, said he suspected about one in 10 puppies he treats comes from a farm, and the figure soars in the daytime: “There are trucks coming from east Europe with hundreds of puppies. They are eight or 10 weeks of age. They cannot even walk. You cannot breed puppies like growing potatoes.”

To open a puppy farm, a breeder must apply to the council for a licence under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs Act 1999.

The site must be inspected by a vet and council officer. Breeders must ensure dogs do not give birth to more than one litter a year. But campaigners claim these rules are regularly breached.

Mr Abrahams said: “Official advice is to always see the puppy with its mum; never buy under eight weeks old; and always see the conditions in which it was bred. But the Government’s own legislation is preventing that from happening. We need to ban third-party sales.”

Puppies are often younger than eight weeks old when they are sold, which is legal but not recommended.

The TV vet, who has appeared on The Paul O’ Grady Show, This Morning and BBC Breakfast, added: “A lot are crossbreeds posing as pedigrees and they have to sell them while they’re young enough so the owner doesn’t realise.”

One of the most common illnesses is Parvo virus, a digestive condition. Many dogs were given medication to ensure they do not show symptoms until new owners have taken them home.

“When the puppy is found in a pool of bloody diarrhoea and taken to vet often it’s too late unless you spend £3,000 or £4,000 to put it on a drip.”

Mr Abrahams — who runs the annual PupAid charity event in Primrose Hill — advised that if a dog is being sold as a pure breed for £600 or less, it is likely to have come from a puppy farm.

Joan Kennedy, 57, of Stoke Newington told how she paid £600 last month for a teacup Yorkshire terrier for her granddaughter. The puppy, named Bo, was bought from a seller in London and died within 10 days after falling ill.

Ms Kennedy found the animal came from a puppy farm in Wales. She complained to the local council and an investigation is under way. “My granddaughter is distraught,” she said.

Article taken from: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/ban-cruel-and-deadly-trade-in-dogs-reared-in-puppy-farms-demand-vets-a3099176.html


Scottish foxhunting review prompts report showing animals’ benefit to farms

Foxes can benefit farmers to an average of £500 a year, according to a new study published to coincide with the Scottish parliament’s review of hunting legislation.


Campaigners hope that tightening the foxhunting ban in Scotland will prevent David Cameron reintroducing attempts to relax the ban in England and Wales.

The report was commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland to coincide with a Holyrood review of the effectiveness of its ban, which includes a “pest control” loophole that still allows the use of dogs if they are “flushing” foxes from cover towards waiting guns.

Drawing on more than 60 independent studies, as well as his own research, Stephen Harris, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Bristol and a leading vulpine expert, concludes that foxes are not the pests that hunters claim; that hunting them does not reduce fox populations and that killing them can actually increase overall numbers.

Harris found that fox numbers have decreased since the ban was introduced in Scotland in 2002, two years before the practice was banned across England and Wales, contradicting predictions made by the pro-hunt lobby.

The report argues that pest control can be counterproductive, especially when a dominant animal is killed. That causes more foxes to move into an area to compete for the vacant space, leading to a local increase in numbers and higher livestock losses.

But it also notes that the fox is not a significant livestock predator, with losses of hill lambs to foxes proportionately lower compared with other causes of mortality such as weather and poor husbandry. It also calculates that the animals can be worth between £156 and £886 to farmers due to their efficient rabbit predation.

The Scottish government announced a review of the Scottish ban, enshrined in the Protection of Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002, in September after surveillance of five of Scotland’s 10 hunts suggested that they were routinely ignoring the legislation.

Campaigners would like to see legislation amended to reduce the number of dogs used in flushing to guns to two, to prevent hunts from using a full pack under cover of the exemption, and to add a clause outlawing reckless behaviour.

Robbie Marsland, director of the Scottish League, said: “Hunts in Scotland claim they are hunting legally, using the flushing to guns loophole. But the league’s own extensive video footage shows no evidence of guns, leading us to suspect that Scottish hunts have not altered their behaviour since the 2002 hunting ban came into force.”

Campaigners are also hopeful that if Scotland toughens its ban this will make it harder for the Westminster government if it revisits the issue as expected later this year.

In a major humiliation for Cameron, the government was forced to withdraw its attempt to relax the foxhunting ban in England and Wales in July after the Scottish National party said it would vote against the change. At the time Downing Street insisted the proposal was a technical change to bring the law in England and Wales more closely into line with Scotland.

Downing Street was expected to revisit the issue in the autumn after the introduction of English votes for English laws in parliament, although the new procedure would not stop the SNP voting down the relaxation of the foxhunting ban because it still requires a vote of the whole house for legislation to pass, in addition to a vote by English and Welsh MPs only.

Article taken from: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/28/scottish-foxhunting-review-prompts-report-showing-animals-benefit-to-farms?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other