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Scottish Government announces consultation on CCTV in slaughterhouses

According to a recent OneKind news bulletin, the Scottish Government has announced that it’s going to launch a consultation on compulsory CCTV in Scottish slaughterhouses as part of its Programme for Government for the year ahead.

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The consultation could go either way, and no doubt the industry will lobby for the easiest rules possible. That means it falls on us to keep on building the pressure and demonstrating the huge public support for CCTV in all parts of all slaughterhouses and independent monitoring

Here’s a few ways you can help:

Request a campaign pack – OneKind still have a few packs left if you’d like to help get the message out there.

If you’re in Scotland, write to your local MSP and tell them about OneKind’s campaign. This is a step forward, but we still have a long battle ahead.

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Take action: Four months left to save the National Wildlife Crime Unit

World Animal Protection are asking people to urgently step up and take action for wildlife in the UK.

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As highlighted on What the Cat Dragged In (via IFAW) last month, the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) is at risk. Despite it being one of the world’s leading wildlife crime units, its funding is due to run out in March.

World Animal Protection is now asking people to email their MP and urge them to save the NWCU. We need them to demand that the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Home Office continue to fund this vital unit.

Wildlife crime is abundant across the UK with animals being harmed and persecuted. Animals are hunted, smuggled, butchered for their body parts or kept alive in order to be sold on. The NWCU is absolutely critical in the fight against wildlife criminals. Without them, wild animals will be at a much greater risk of suffering cruelty.

The NWCU is a world-leading police unit dedicated to supporting wildlife crime investigations and fundamental to providing and analysing national wildlife crime intelligence across the UK. Without them, a huge number of wildlife crime cases would not be successfully investigated or prosecuted. Right now, the NWCU’s future is in doubt as their funding comes to an end in March 2016. In 2014 they were granted 2 years funding; but previous to that they had to fight to stay open every single year. This endless cycle of uncertainty has been a huge drain on their resources.

Chief Inspector Martin Sims, Head of the NWCU, has recently commented that “if we don’t secure funding, the unit will fold”. Defra and the Home Office are currently considering the future of the NWCU and will decide soon if they will be given long term funding. We have to make sure this happens. World Animal Protection is calling on the UK Government to fully-fund this vital unit for at least 5 years. This is the same amount of time that Governments have in their terms, and would give the NWCU the stability and vote of confidence that they so urgently need.

Please call on your MP today and help protect the NWCU and UK wildlife now!

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Press release: ‘Protecting our natural world’ – UK government

Press release from Marine Management Organisation, 5th October 2015

Over millions of years, natural life has evolved to live together in communities. In the different regions of the world – on land and in seas – there are different natural communities with distinct characteristics.

Brown crab

If animals, including fish and birds, or plants, from a distant community get into the UK or its seas, they may not fit harmoniously into the local natural community.

For example, American lobsters and Dungeness crabs live in communities off the coast of North America. Some of these non-native creatures were released into the sea near Brighton in June 2015.

There’s a risk that such non-native species could spread quickly, establishing breeding populations. These could threaten the UK’s native lobsters and crabs by introducing diseases to which they have little resistance or by out-competing them for food and shelter.

Any loss of our native lobsters and crabs could seriously affect the livelihoods of individual fishermen and the viability of local businesses. Losses would also disrupt the wider marine ecosystem. Following the release near Brighton, fishermen have been trying to catch the American lobsters and Dungeness crabs to minimise damage to the communities of native crabs and lobsters they rely on for their income.

In the interests of protecting the natural environment, it is a criminal offence in the UK to release non-native species into the wild. This includes mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, lobsters and crabs, as well as plant communities. The release of any non-native species can cause the death of native species through competition or disease.

Releasing native species, for example European lobsters and brown crabs into the seas around the UK means that they fit into the local sealife community. Anyone wanting to release lobsters, crabs, or any other species, should first check that they are species that will live harmoniously in the UK’s natural communities.

Article taken from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/protecting-our-natural-world

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Freedom of Information Request Reveals True Cost of Badger Cull – Nearly £7,000 per badger killed

DEFRA has finally been forced to reveal the true cost of their disastrous badger cull policy in a Freedom of Information request brought by the Badger Trust. The final bill for the taxpayer (including policing costs) is just under £16.8 million, which works out at £6,775 per badger killed.

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The DEFRA figures show:
2012 badger cull postponement costs – £2,500,000
2013 badger cull cost – £9,818,000
2014 badger cull cost – £4,459,000
Total costs – £16,777,000

The Badger Trust has pursued the government relentlessly over the actual costs of the badger cull policy but DEFRA fought hard not to reveal them. So in November 2014, the Trust went public with its own estimate of £6,100 per badger for the first two years of the culls, a figure derided as ‘inaccurate and alarmist’ by pro-cull politicians and the farming lobby, who also accused the Trust of inflating the costs to ‘fuel public opposition’ to the policy.

Reacting to the latest figures released by DEFRA, Dominic Dyer CEO of the Badger Trust said, “Despite the best efforts of the government and the farming lobby to discredit us, our cost estimates were, if anything, too low.

“Not only is the badger cull a disastrous failure on scientific and animal welfare grounds, it is also becoming an unacceptable burden on the taxpayer. When the policy was developed in 2011 the government claimed it would be a farmer led initiative, paid for by farmers. In reality it’s the taxpayer who is footing the bill and these costs will continue to rise rapidly as the policy is extended into Dorset, and possibly other counties in the future.

“If, as the former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson stated in 2013, the badger cull is rolled out to over 40 areas of England the costs to the tax payer could easily exceed half a billion pounds.”

Badger Trust Chairman Peter Martin added, “It’s time the government stopped pandering to the irrational sentiments of the farming lobby by playing the badger blame game. We live in a world of science and facts, and DEFRA’s own data show that even in TB hotspot areas 85% of badgers will not even have the disease and 98% are no risk whatsoever to cattle. Killing badgers that don’t have TB cannot possibly help the situation for farmers or for cows. This indiscriminate slaughter is not only irrational but hugely wasteful of public money at a time when key services are being axed, including 40% cuts at DEFRA.

“The Welsh Government’s approach has been far more successful by focusing on improved testing and movement controls in cattle. New incidents of bTB in Wales are down 28% with a 45% cut in the number of cattle being slaughtered. This leaves 94% of the Welsh herd now free of bTB, without culling any badgers.

“The public has a right to be outraged not only by the appalling waste of badgers’ lives but also the disgraceful squandering of tens of millions of pounds on a policy that will have no measureable impact on reducing bovine TB. If famers are worried about badgers then vaccinating them is not just more effective and humane, it’s also ten times cheaper than culling.”

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Thousands sign petition after Scots horse is stabbed and sexually assaulted

More than 4,500 people have petitioned Justice Secretary Michael Matheson calling for a change in animal cruelty sentencing.

An online petition calling for a change to animal cruelty sentencing has got the attention of the Scottish government after it attracted more than 3,500 signatures.

The petition – intended for the Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson – was launched after an 18-year-old horse was stabbed and sexually assaulted while it was grazing in the New Pitsligo area of the North East last weekend.

Blaze was found by her owner Zoe Wright the following evening and despite vets’ best efforts, the retired show jumper was put to sleep.

Disgusted at the abhorrent crime, a Change.org petition was launched to encourage stricter sentencing where crimes of animal cruelty have been committed and by this morning it has already attracted more than 4,500 of its 5,000 signature target.

Campaign creator Maria Verrecchia appeals to ‘anyone who has access to the internet” to lobby for a change to the law to harsher-punish those who commit heinous acts like those inflicted on Blaze.

She says: “The likelihood of the perpetrators being brought to any form of justice is not only slim due to the nature of the crime and the relevance to police time and resources, but will likely bring about a sentence of a fine and maximum term of 12 months imprisonment under the Scottish Judicial System.

“If a Sheriff hears the case and not a Jury (Scotland) then the sentencing is likely to be even less.”

“Animal Rights may never be put on a par with Human Rights, but the resulting pain and loss suffered from this level of cruelty remains very HUMAN and should be measured on that fact at the very least.”

“Please help to obtain Justice for Blaze – raise awareness and apply pressure to those who can amend the Law and bring about heavier sentencing and a greater awareness within the Judicial System in addressing the causes of such offending.”

At current, a conviction of causing an animal unnecessary suffering can carry 12 months in prison, a lifetime ban on keeping animals and a £20,000 fine.

Speaking to the Press and Journal, a Holyrood Spokesperson said: “Animal cruelty and abuse are abhorrent and cannot be tolerated in a modern civilised society.

“However we recognise that it is only right that maximum penalties for any type of offence should be reviewed periodically within the context of penalties for other offences.”

Maria told the P&J: “The current sentencing level for this crime does not reflect the heinous cruelty of horse mutilation and sexual abuse.

“Blaze was a servant, a trusting creature, trapped, abused and mutilated and left to suffer. Let Scotland and its people be a voice for Blaze and all animals that suffer cruelty.”

Distraught Zoe offered a reward of £1,000 through Facebook to anyone who is able to provide information that results in an arrest.

Police are continuing their investigation into Blaze’s death.

*** Sign the petition here ***

Article taken from: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/crime/thousands-sign-petition-after-scots-6315643

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Take Action: URGENT – Tell Your MP to Back the Hunting Act!

Next week, MPs in England and Wales will vote on whether to allow ‘back door’ amendments to the Hunting Act. The Conservatives wish to see a relaxing of the Act, which would bring it more in line with Scotland where any number of dogs can be used. In England and Wales, the number is limited to two.

We cannot allow this to happen. Chasing a fox is barbaric, but using a whole pack of dogs is senseless butchery. Please, please write to your MP and ask them to vote to keep the Act as it is.

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If you are in England or Wales, click here: http://action.peta.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=5&ea.campaign.id=38695 and here http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/hunting/takeaction

If you’re in Scotland, please email your SNP MP and ask them to vote too – their voice counts as all our voices do: https://www.facebook.com/notes/stop-the-cull/scottish-national-party-mps-twitter-and-email-contacts-list/676648422440862 <– full list of all SNP MP contact details here

The government has published proposals to allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales again as long as it is “appropriate” for the terrain and done “efficiently” to protect other animals.

Ahead of a free vote on the issue next Wednesday, it is understood English and Welsh MPs are currently split almost equally on whether to approve changes to the law that would bring England into line with Scotland.

Given the likely closeness of the vote, the SNP will come under intense pressure from the anti-hunting lobby to break with tradition and vote against the changes, even though they only apply to England.

– quote taken from this Guardian article

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Tory MPs to block attempts to bring back fox hunting

An increasing number of Tories in the Commons say they will be voting with their conscience to stop a return of the blood sport outlawed a decade ago.

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The level of opposition among Conservatives who are against hunting with dogs is far higher than the anti-blood sport lobby first hoped when David Cameron included a “free vote” pledge during the election campaign.

Already a number of ministers, including Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, are pledged to vote against any attempt to overturn the current hunting-with-dogs legislation.

As Queen rock legend Brian May launched Team Fox – a coalition of anti cruel sports organisations – in the Commons today, more Conservatives said they would vote against a change in the law.

One of them was Central Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries who said that a hunt-master in her constituency had asked her not to vote against the current laws because they were working well for good riders who prefer “drag hunting”.

Other Conservative MPs opposed to fox hunting say they are keeping their powder dry before revealing their voting intentions but stress they are coming under no whip pressure to support the sport’s return.

“I believe that up to two-thirds of the House are against any attempt to repeal the law,” said one MP.

There is also growing belief at Westminster that the hunt vote could be held before any move has been taken to resolve the so-called “West Lothian question” that would see only English MPs legislating on English issues.

If the fox hunt vote is held before Scottish MPs no longer have a say, it could see dozens of vehemently anti-hunting SNP members of the House also having an opportunity to scupper the 2005 Hunting Act.

Among the organisations that have joined Team Fox are the Save Me Trust, League Against Cruel Sports and Network for Animals.

“The Hunting Act is the most successful piece of wild animal welfare legislation in England and Wales and out performs all other wild mammal legislation, having both the highest number of convictions since it was introduced and highest conviction rate,” say Team Fox.

“Many more people have been deterred from chasing and killing foxes, hares, deer and mink for pleasure. This is something to celebrate.”

Article taken from: http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/587844/MPs-fox-hunting-attempt