Emaciated and injured animals at horse sanctuary in Cornwall

A horse sanctuary owner left animals emaciated and with untreated injuries.

Roberta Cleere, 39, became “overwhelmed” when she ran the Second Chance Horse Rescue Centre from her home in St Day, Cornwall.

She was found guilty of four counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £1,250 in costs.

Truro Magistrates’ ordered the seizure of any horses she owns and disqualified her from keeping horses for 10 years.

BeauThe Shetland cob-type horse Beau suffered from neglect

Kevin Withey, prosecuting on behalf of the RSPCA, said there had been “medium to long-term neglect”.

He said the emaciation witnessed by RSPCA staff must have had a “prolonged cause”.

Rob Ecclestone, defending, said Cleere had always been “devoted to horses”.

He said it was her love of animals which led to her setting up the Second Chance Horse Rescue Centre.

The sanctuary began in 2003 and Cleere had 35-40 horses when the RSPCA intervened in December 2015.

Speaking outside court, RSPCA inspector Jon Phipps said Cleere had repeatedly ignored advice and warnings.

Article taken from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-37781017


Grouse shooting estates shored up by millions in subsidies

England’s vast grouse shooting estates receive millions of pounds in public subsidies according to an investigation by Friends of the Earth.

Grouse shooting

Thirty of the estates received £4m of taxpayer’s money between them in 2014, the year examined by the pressure group, including one owned by the Duke of Westminster, the richest landowner in Britain with land holdings estimated to be worth £9bn

The campaigners, who argue that grouse moor management harms the environment and wildlife, found the moors cover over half a million acres, an area equivalent to all the land within the M25, Greater London and parts of the home counties.

The estates are owned by a mixture of lords, dukes, earls and barons as well as bankers, businessmen and firms based in offshore tax havens.

MPs will debate the issue of grouse shooting on Monday, as the result of an official petition backed by more than 120,000 people which demands a ban on driven shooting, where beaters flush birds towards the guns.

The petition claims the management of grouse moors leads to the illegal killing of birds of prey such as hen harriers, which prey on grouse, and the legal killing of foxes, stoats and mountain hares. It adds that the heather burning involved could worsen flooding and climate change.

“These shocking new figures reveal the true, horrifying scale of grouse moors in England and the madness of the current farm payments system that subsidises them,” said Guy Shrubsole of Friends of the Earth.

“Instead of handing out taxpayers’ money to billionaires and offshore firms to indulge in an elite sport, the government must reform farm payments so public money is spent on public goods – like tree-planting, restoring wildlife habitats, farming sustainably and preventing flooding downstream,” he said. The future of the £3bn a year the UK receives in EU agricultural subsidies is a key part of the Brexit debate.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association, said driven grouse shooting played an important role in conservation: “Almost two-thirds of England’s upland sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) are managed grouse moors. Management has helped conserve this unique landscape, whereas elsewhere in Britain it has been lost to afforestation, windfarms or overgrazing.”

Grouse shooting in England and Wales leads to more than £15m a year being spent in rural areas and supports more than 1,500 jobs, according to Anderson. She said: “There is no place for the illegal killing of any wildlife and no place in the Moorland Association for a grouse moor owner or manager found to have broken the law.”

The Friends of the Earth investigation took a Moorland Association map showing “keepered grouse moors” in England and compared it with government datasets and satellite images, which show where burning has taken place, to calculate the area. It found 550,000 acres of grouse moor, all in the north of England.

FoE then used Land Registry data to identify 30 of the grouse moor estates, which cover 300,000 acres of the total. These estates received £4m of taxpayer subsidies in 2014 via the EU common agricultural policy (CAP).

The largest subsidy was given to the Lilburn estate in Northumberland, owned by Duncan Davidson, the founder of housebuilding giant Persimmon Homes. In 2014, the estate received £1.6m in CAP subsidy, with another £1.3m in 2015.

The Abbeystead estate in Lancashire – owned by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor estate – received £7,200 in farm subsidies in 2014 and £203,000 in 2015. The Grosvenor Estate describes Abbeystead as “one of the premier sporting estates in the UK” and it is reputed to hold the record for most grouse shot in a single day: a total of 2,929 birds killed by eight shooters on 12 August 1915.

The Mossdale estate in the Yorkshire Dales, owned by the Van Cutsem family, obtained £54,000 in subsides in 2014 and £170,000 in 2015. In June, the estate resigned from the Moorland Association after a keeper was filmed setting illegal pole traps.

Records in Companies House show that some of the 30 estates identified by Friends of the Earth are owned by firms registered in offshore tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, Liechtenstein, Jersey and Guernsey.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) does not support the petition to ban driven grouse shooting, but argues that new laws are needed. “As currently practised, intensive driven grouse shooting is a negative environmental impact,” said the RSPB’s Jeff Knott. “Grouse shooting can deliver benefits [for some birds], but not enough grouse moors are delivering to the highest standards.”

The RSPB wants grouse shoots to require licences, which can be removed if the moors are not managed properly or if wildlife crimes occur. “Voluntary approaches clearly haven’t worked,” said Knott. “There is denial that there is any problem and anyone who says otherwise is called anti-shooting.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We continue to work with conservation groups and landowners to ensure sustainable grouse shooting balances both environmental and economic needs.”

The UK’s forthcoming departure from the EU has sparked a fierce debate about the future of agricultural subsidies. It was revealed in September that a billionaire Saudi prince received £400,000 a year to subsidise a farm where he breeds racehorses.

The National Trust and many green NGOs have argued for a complete overhaul, ending payments for simply owning land and only rewarding farmers who improve the environment and help wildlife. The suggestion is opposed by the National Farmers Union, which says food production is vital.

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/28/grouse-shooting-estates-shored-up-by-millions-in-subsidies


Battersea Dogs Home’s ‘loneliest’ resident adopted

Britain’s “loneliest” dog has been adopted after spending more than 1,000 days at an animal shelter.

Animals at the Old Windsor home normally stay about 36 days, but team leader Craig Perera said people “may have been put off by his size” .

After Bud featured on Paul O’Grady’s ITV show ‘For the Love of Dogs’ a family contacted the home to adopt him.

The new owner, Ian Corns from Kingswinford, Dudley, said “we’ve all fallen in love with him”.

Old Windsor is a branch of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Manager, Kaye Mughal, said he was their ” …longest stay across all three Battersea sites“.

Paul O'Grady with bud.Paul O’Grady said it “broke” his heart to see the dog “spend a fourth Christmas without a home”

Bud was taken there in November 2013 when he was 6 months old as his owners were no longer able to take care of him.

Ian said: “When I saw Bud on the Battersea programme I couldn’t stop looking at him. His character shone through and he reminded me so much of our old Collie-cross Rune.”

Bud the greyhound cross with some tennis ballsBud saw 5,500 dogs re-homed before him during his stay at the rescue centre

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-37791051?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/14745d1f-885d-4b9f-b28a-24540e7beb15/animals&link_location=live-reporting-story


Rare birds thriving on Scilly Isles after scheme rids islands of rats

A scheme to kill rats on two of the Isles of Scilly, backed by Prince Charles, has led to a resurgence in rare sea birds.

Numbers of Manx shearwaters are rising

The number of Manx shearwaters has risen to 73 nesting pairs this year, the highest in living memory and almost triple the number of nesting birds just three years ago. The birds appear to be breeding successfully, with 30 chicks spotted on the popular holiday islands. Another species of rare ground-nesting birds, storm petrels, have also returned to the Scillies.

The Manx shearwater shares the burrows of rabbits on the tussocky slopes of the Scilly Islands of St Agnes and Gugh, while the storm petrel nests in cracks in rocks, beneath the local pub. But this made them vulnerable to rats, which ate both their eggs and chicks.

But it was the rats rather than the Duchy that caused the birds’ decline. It is thought that brown rats arrived on the islands in the 17th century, from the many shipwrecks that dot the coast of the Scillies.

By 2014 there were only 24 nesting pairs of Manx shearwaters left and a chick had not survived in some 100 years.

In 2013 the 84 islanders worked together to eradicate the rats under a £750,000 scheme backed by Prince Charles. Farmers cleaned out sheds and barns. New, sturdy refuse bins were supplied to every household. And islanders started taking waste to the local tip just once a week.

All 11 children at the school on St Agnes were taught about rats, storm petrels and shearwaters.

Then for three weeks in November 2013 more than 1,000 baiting boxes were laced with poison. Some 3,000 rats were killed. Now, with the islands rat-free, the rare migratory birds are flourishing.

Jaclyn Pearson from the RSPB, who managed the project said: “We are thrilled that these seabirds are thriving since the rat removal.

“All the hard work which everyone has put into the project has been well worth it when you know that a species has been returned to a habitat which is rightfully theirs,” she said.

The sparrow-sized storm petrel is the smallest seabird in the world, and the Isles of Scilly is just one of two places in England where they are found. But, because of the rats there had been no sighting of them in St Agnes and Gugh in living memory.

There are an estimated 280,000 Manx shearwaters in the world, and Britain acts as home to the majority of them during summer months. The birds make an annual 20,000-mile migration from South America to breed on the islands, finding their way by star-gazing.

Chicks are said to spend several days at the mouth of their burrows on the Scilly Isles gazing at the stars before making their perilous first flight south, and are then believed to find their way back to that same burrow by following the alignment of the stars above it.

Plans are underway to extend the scheme to the islands of Tresco, St Martin’s and Bryher, if funding can be found. “We know it’s feasible,” said Jaclyn. “The birds are coming here, so we have a responsibility for them.”

Article taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/21/rare-birds-thriving-on-scilly-isles-after-scheme-rids-islands-of-rats


Red kite populations taking off slowly in the north due to killings

Slow growth of one of Scotland’s four populations of reintroduced red kites is down to illegal killing, according to a new report from the country’s nature agency.

A new report suggests poor population growth of red kites in the north of Scotland is down to illegal killings. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The study, carried out by RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science for Scottish Natural Heritage, shows the number of birds colonising the north of Scotland is much lower than at comparable release sites elsewhere.

From an original 93 individuals released there are now a total of 70 breeding pairs, far fewer than the 1,500 experts believe there could be.

The red kite was once widespread across the UK but persecution by humans drove the species to extinction in Scotland and England by the end of the 19th century.

A UK-wide re-introduction programme was launched in 1989, when young birds taken from Sweden, Spain and Wales were released at two sites – at the Black Isle, near Inverness, and in the Chilterns in England.

In addition, another seven new populations have been established across the country, three of them in Scotland and the rest in England. The scheme is considered a major success, with numbers on the rise in most areas.

The latest Scottish count showed at least 283 pairs in 2015. But the new report has found the population in north Scotland, although not at risk of decline, continues to grow more slowly than at other reintroduction sites.

It updates earlier work and suggests persecution is still the main reason numbers are not higher in the region.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of species and land management for RSPB Scotland, said: “Illegal killing is the principal threat, despite the fact that the red kite poses no threat to any land use interests. “We call on responsible landowners to work with the police to help stamp out criminal practices which continue to cause such damage to important parts of our natural heritage.”

The latest study shows survival rates and the proportion of illegally killed birds being found remained at similar levels to previous years. Of 57 dead red kites recovered between 2007 and 2014, 42 per cent were confirmed to have been illegally killed. This compares to 40 per cent from 1989 to 2006.

Sporting estates have come under fire over illegal killing of birds of prey but the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) insists efforts are being made to end the problem. “Red Kite conservation is a huge success story in Scotland and many SGA members are playing an active part in this,” said an SGA spokesman. “If a tiny minority continue to take part in illegal practices, this is through no encouragement whatsoever from the SGA and all our members know they will be expelled from the organisation if convicted of wildlife crime.”

Article taken from: http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/red-kite-populations-taking-off-slowly-in-the-north-due-to-killings-1-4271184


Escaped jungle snakes on the loose across the country, warn animal experts

Wildlife hospitals have warned of escaped jungle snakes on the loose across the UK.

Watch where you step...

There are fears reptile owners are dumping snakes in the wild because they cannot look after them.

After a woman suffered a bite from an escaped reptile, now a boa constrictor as thick as a man’s thigh has been found by a wildlife hospital.

An eight-foot-long boa constrictor was found and taken to Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital in Newton Tony, near Salisbury, on Thursday.

Earlier this week, soldiers training fifty miles away in Farnborough, Hants, found a 6ft long anaconda.

There are fears for snake welfare, as these species need warm jungle temperatures, and they may freeze to death in the nippy autumn weather.

Staff at the Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital found the eight foot boa constrictor dumped near its gates and think it was left there during the early hours of the morning.

Wildlife care supervisor Marilyn Korkis said: “It took two people to lift it. It was huge – the thickness of a thigh”.

She said she would rather find a badger than a terrifying boa constrictor, revealing:

“I had the shock of my life – you don’t expect that sort of thing. To get something that big is a bit out of the ordinary.

“Part of it was not knowing what sort of snake it was and what it was capable of.

“Give me a badger any day over a snake. We’re more used to rescuing native wildlife species and taking in smaller animals like cats and dogs that have been left outside the gates rather than creatures of this size, though in the past we have taken in smaller snakes like corn snakes.

The snake was dehydrated but otherwise in a good condition. She said if snake owners feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for a reptile, they should not dump them but find someone who will look after the animal.
The boa constrictor is being cared for by the animal hospital and they say it is doing “really well”. Staff hope to rehome the creature in the near future.
The RSPCA has also warned of escaped or dumped snakes after soldiers in Farnborough found a 6-foot-long anaconda strong enough to crush a human’s ribs.

The soldiers captured the yellow-coloured reptile and brought it to an RSPCA centre in Brighton, where it is now being cared for and an appeal has gone out to find the owner.

RSPCA animal welfare officer Peter Yarde said “They spotted it moving around in circles and occasionally raising and lowering its head.”

He warned that although reptiles are difficult to look after, they have the same needs as in the wild, which must be met in captivity by law under the Animal Welfare Act.

Mr Yarde continued: “Exotic pets often end up in our care after people realise they’re not easy to care for or once the novelty wears off.

“Others are rescued after they’ve escaped or have been released on purpose. Some species can be difficult for us to re-home, due to a lack of suitable homes or interest.

“Non-native species may not survive in our countryside and are illegal to release, as they could be an invasive species posing a risk to our native wildlife.

“Vital tips on caring for exotic pets may not be provided by sellers and can be hard to find online.

“Information is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk, to help potential buyers make an informed decision.”

Article taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/28/escaped-jungle-snakes-on-the-loose-across-the-country-warn-anima/


Revealed: slow progress of Scotland’s air gun licence scheme

Article taken from The Ferret by Peter Geoghegan on October 2, 2016:

Victims of air rifles have criticised the speed of the Scottish Government’s air gun licence scheme after a Ferret investigation found less than a fifth of applications have been processed so far.

No applications for an air gun license have been refused, a Freedom of Information request also revealed.

Police Scotland had processed just 418 of the 2642 applications it had received by the end of August, raising fears that the backlog will not be cleared by the time new legislation comes into force on January 1, 2017.

It is estimated that there are about 500,000 air weapons in Scotland, although around 12,000 air guns were handed into the police during a three week amnesty this summer.

Calls for a clampdown on air guns intensified after two-year-old Andrew Morton was killed by an air rifle in Easterhouse, Glasgow in 2005.

The child had been in the street with big brother Brian, then aged 13, watching fire engines when drug addict Mark Bonini shot him from a first-floor flat window. Then prime minister Tony Blair said the killing was “absolutely appalling”.

After firearms legislation was devolved to Holyrood in 2012, plans for a licence scheme were drawn up.

The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act was introduced last year. It costs £72 to apply for a license.

Air gun victims welcomed the new legislation but are concerned about the length of time Police Scotland is taking to process applications.

Air Gun Pile

“There are still reports almost weekly of an animal being shot with an air guns,” said Laura-Jane Sheridan, whose cat Suki was shot in the stomach by an air rifle.

“It could very well be a child that this could happen to. If they can shoot at an animal, they can shoot at a child,” said Sheridan.

“The effects of that one split second of pulling the trigger are felt for years and years afterwards. Its not something you ever get over. The legislation is there for a reason but we need to make sure it is properly pursued and followed up.”

The Scottish Government said that in the event that a license application is not processed in time people with air guns should store them in a “safe place” – such as with a firearms dealer or with “another certificate holder.”

There are currently nine Police Scotland officers working on the air weapon license project – but in the two months to August 31 just 418 of 2624 applications received were processed.

Jennifer Dunn, Senior Parliamentary Officer for the League Against Cruel Sports in Scotland, was concerned that no applications for air gun licences had been turned down.

“Given the restrictions of the legislation, we’re surprised that no airgun licence had been refused,” Dunn said.

“There are unfortunately air weapon users out there who use their guns to kill and maim pets, particularly cats, as well as protected animals, like many species of birds.”

From next year, it will be a criminal offence to have an air weapon without a licence or permit. Anyone found guilty of the new offence could face up to two years in prison.

Earlier this year, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said much of the extra work needed to process licence applications would be undertaken by community officers who have been given additional training.

Opposition politicians called on the Scottish government to do more to ensure that the backlog of air gun applications is cleared.

John Finnie MSP, Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “Air weapons are not toys but potentially dangerous firearms and Greens welcome them requiring a license.

“Of course there’s no point in having a licencing regime if it can’t cope with the volume of applicants. An air weapon certificate will cover all the air weapons held by the certificate holder and it is vital that, as with firearms and shotguns, thorough enquiries are undertaken to establish the complete suitability of all applicants.

Police Scotland must spare no effort in ensuring there are no unlicensed weapons in our communitiesJOHN FINNIE MSP

Police Scotland must spare no effort in ensuring there are no unlicensed weapons in our communities and that all applications are processed before 31st December.  Anything short of that could compromise public safety.”

Labour’s MSP Claire Baker MSP said: “For the legislation to be effective, the SNP Government must ensure that the resources are in the place for Police Scotland to carry out processing in a timely manner.

“However this can’t be at the expense of proper scrutiny of all applications. This FoI seems to indicate that Police Scotland are struggling to do both and resources need to be looked at.”

Scottish Conservative community safety spokesman Oliver Mundell said the air gun licence scheme itself “was a waste of time and money.”

If only 2600 applications have been received, that leaves hundreds of thousands of air guns unaccounted for in Scotland.OLIVER MUNDELL MSP

He said: “If only 2600 applications have been received, that leaves hundreds of thousands of air guns unaccounted for in Scotland.

“The Scottish Government shouldn’t be surprised that all applications have been approved; it’s not like those holding air guns for malicious purposes would seek official consent.

“It’s needless hassle for those who own air guns for entirely legitimate purposes, and will do nothing to improve public safety.

“And it seems, having insisted on this law, the Scottish Government hasn’t even bothered to ensure all applications will be processed on time.”

Speaking in 2014, Andrew Morton’s father, Andy, welcomed the air gun licence scheme.

“We realise there are legitimate uses for air rifles. We are not against pest controllers working on a farm having access to these weapons, for example.

“But there is no place for them in housing schemes – and that is our fight. The only reason someone would have one in a city centre or in a scheme is to cause trouble.

“People still seem to think they are toys but they are lethal weapons.

“Our Andrew died after being shot in the head. We know they are not toys and shouldn’t ever be in the wrong hands.

“We would like to see licences introduced. People would have to prove they have a legitimate use for them before they are allowed to buy one.

“Anyone caught with an air rifle who doesn’t have a licence should be severely dealt with.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that “Police Scotland are working hard to process applications”

“We would encourage anyone wanting an air weapon licence to apply by October 31 to ensure they can keep their weapons when the new laws come in to force on December 31.

“Where an application is not processed before the year end, the owner would have to put their guns in a safe place, for example with a firearms dealer or another certificate holder, until they get a decision from Police Scotland.”

Police Scotland did not respond to requests for comment.

Article taken from: https://theferret.scot/revealed-slow-speed-of-scotlands-air-gun-licence-scheme/