Alive & Kicking: Bungles and Bees

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 Bees on thistle head

My last post on here turned out to be a prophecy fulfilled, unfortunately. No-one is to blame for this. Many of us in the pro-hunting camp rely on a number of hardcore political lobbyists aligned to our various Associations and Alliances to do the campaigning for a fair deal for hunters, shooters, anglers et al. I take no real joy in having predicted that the timing was wrong for a debate on amendments to the Hunting Act. If I was to blame anyone for the faux-pas, it would be the Tory administration for not lining up their ducks in the right order (if you’ll excuse the phrase). What really got my goat, however, was that it allowed an annoying and insipid bunch of animal rights campaigners calling themselves ‘Team Fox’ to claim some sort of moral victory. The postponement of the debate had nothing to do with animal rights concerns and everything to do with a political ‘pissing contest’. It exposed the SNP as future meddlers in English law despite promises not to do so and therefore highlighted the need for EVEL (English Votes for English Law). Which is where the ducks were lined up wrongly, of course.

All of this, on top of the recent decision by SMP’s to enforce airgun licensing in Scotland, just shows how unreasonably emotional the subject of hunting and guns can be amongst my ‘Misinformed‘. One pundit calculated this week that it will take the 14 remaining Firearms Officers in Scotland about 45 years to process the 500,000 license claims from existing airgun owners. The law is an ass? You bet your ass! Airgun crime is at an all-time low in Scotland (indeed, the UK). Airgun ‘criminals’ are hardly likely to apply for a license, are they? What a waste of political, legal and police time. Time that would be better devoted to combating radicalism and protecting UK residents from ‘real and present’ danger from terrorism.

But enough on politics. This is Wildscribblers blog! My off-road sorties into the Norfolk hinterland in pursuit of vermin are on hold for a week or two, which will please Mr May and friends. Not that the rabbits and magpies will be entirely safe. A fairly serious RTA yesterday, from which both I and the other driver walked away unscathed, means the X-Trail is a write-off. A testament to the strength of modern vehicles. My little courtesy car isn’t exactly built for farm tracks so I will be using Shanks Pony to access land for a while.

Has anyone noticed how prolific the wildflowers are this summer, and hence the ‘pollinators’. All around me in Norfolk, the County Council cut-backs have meant minimal cutting back of verges except where it threatens motorists visibility. As a result, highway verges are a splash of colour. Poppy, ragged robin, dandelion, foxglove, mullein, hemlock, rosebay willowherb, mallow, vetch. The list is endless and a huge source of pollen for hoverflies, honey bees and solitary bees. Brilliant to see. Of course, where there are insects, there are birds. The yellowhammers, warblers and robins have an abundance of food now. I took a picture the other day (that I will share some time soon) of a yellowhammer with a beak full of flies. I wondered where the nest of chicks were? And whether the magpies and crows were watching? So, I have a question for the reader? If the little yellowhammer is a hunter of flies, what momentary pain does the fly feel? Probably the same as the momentary pain the yellowhammers chick feels when the carrion crow snatches it? Perhaps the same momentary pain that the crow feels when I shoot it? Predation, pain, death … these are all a common theme in Mother Natures grand scheme. You can’t discriminate and exempt any creature from this inevitability. If you do, you are playing at being at ‘Mother Nature’ or ‘God’ or whatever you, personally, call the higher plane. I call it Tao … but to each, their own.

Have a good weekend, guys and girls. I will. Because I’m still alive. And for about three seconds yesterday morning, I didn’t expect to be.

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, July 2015



Hunting Act Amendments 2015

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Am I the only one left thinking that next weeks Parliamentary debate and vote on amendments to the Hunting Act 2004 is a dangerous move for the pro-hunting lobby? Already we are reading that Labour may whip their Members to vote against the amendments and what the SNP will do (on an issue that doesn’t affect Scotland) is anyone’s guess? Let’s not forget that Scotland have just legislated to introduce airgun licensing. Surely it would have been in the interest of the broader rural agenda for a Government truly wanting repeal to have waited for the right opportunity to introduce a free vote on exactly that … repeal? Not ‘amendment’. I fear that a bad result next week will push the prospect of complete repeal back by years.

Despite what LACS and the RSPCA etc would have you believe, the Hunting Act has been an abomination. A complete waste of public money and legal time. Just think about it’s basis for a moment? The main point of the Act (if you disregard the very obvious and misguided attempt at class warfare … most hunters aren’t ‘upper class’) is to stop the pursuit and killing of wild mammals by dogs. One of the most natural inclinations of the domestic dog is to track, trail and (for many breeds) kill. That’s why domestic dogs exist in our homes, descendants of the wolf hybrids used by early man to put food on the table. Every single domestic dog breed holds the genes which relate them directly back to that mighty and beautiful hunter, the wolf. Unlike the fox. The fox has no genetic link to the wolf. How many of you knew that? Legislating to curb a dogs hunting instinct is as ridiculous as bringing in a law to stop babies crying or monkeys climbing.

The absurdity of the Act has never been just in its political intention. It has also been in its legal hypocrisy. Stalking and flushing vermin or game to the gun was exempted if only two dogs were used and they didn’t make the kill. The Act then went on to exempt the killing of rabbits and rats using dogs (thankfully) but hey! Hang on? Rabbits and rats are mammals … like hares, squirrels, foxes and deer. So what legal mastermind decided that the grey squirrel enjoys a higher status in ecology than the brown rat? Or that the brown hare has a different pain threshold to a rabbit? If the law is about common sense (I know, I know) then if it’s justifiable to kill a rabbit with a dog, it should also be justifiable to kill any wild mammal with a dog, on permitted land and for the same reasons as the rabbit? Which is why I believe next weeks proposed amendments don’t go far enough. We need to get back to a point where dogs are allowed to kill (not just flush) but with respect to the Wildlife Acts, close seasons and rare species protection. Pack hunting to flush out or bring down prey is older than mankind itself, so what right do we have to call it wrong? Mankind harnessed that efficiency when it domesticated the dog. Dogs should be allowed to hunt. It’s in their nature, just like wolves and tigers and lions.

And what about cats? The RSPB themselves state that in the UK alone, domestic cats catch up to 275 million prey items a year, of which 55 million are birds. Why don’t the bunny-huggers want to legislate against allowing Puss out into the garden? Hey, now there’s an idea! If the amendment goes through I could become the first Master of the Norfolk Moggyhounds?

I was only joking … don’t waste your time with comments.

Personally, I feel let down by next weeks proposals. This isn’t what I voted for, a foppish concession to the Foxhunts which serves no purpose for the common or garden shooter / hunter.

Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, July 2015