The Cruel Truth

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Three for the pot

As a hunter, writer and blogger, I frequently hear the word cruelty … usually in a critical sense and aimed at me. I use the word myself (often) but I actually understand its context. Many of my critics don’t. Cruelty is an important and very emotive word when used in both shooting and anti-shooting circles. The Collins English Dictionary definition of cruelty is deliberate infliction of pain or suffering”. I, certainly, never point a rifle at any quarry with the intention of anything other than instant dispatch. I’m broad shouldered enough to  deflect such accusations and I can’t help smiling inwardly at the behaviour of many people who call my activities ‘cruel’. The old adage “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” comes to mind. Facebook is littered with argument and counter-argument regarding who are the cruel and who are the kind. I saw an interesting double-photo tonight pressing the point. It showed an overcrowded battery farm stuffed with chickens and a single buck standing in a woody glade. It asked the question “What type of life did your meat have?” A superb way to make a point but probably completely lost on the ‘misinformed’.

Some animals are capable of extreme cruelty, yet escape the attention or wrath of those opposed to hunting or shooting. Watch a domestic cat toy with a field mouse, encouraging it to squeal and squeak, torturing it before killing it. Yes, that’s your dear little moggy you’re watching … but he’s only playing, isn’t he? Check out the aftermath of the vixens visit to a hen-house and imagine how she terrorised the birds, herding them into corners before seizing them and tearing off their heads with no intention of eating them all. Deliberate infliction of pain and suffering. The mink (that tyro released into the British countryside by idiots who thought that fur production was ‘cruel’) does the same in the duck pond. Even that iconic riverside mammal, the otter (seen all too infrequently) is capable of wanton and needless slaughter.

If you want to call the three-second twitch of a shot rabbit as its senses shut down ‘cruel’ then that’s fine by me. I will overlook your ignorance but I would like to invite you to watch the slaughter of a beast under religious direction, with no regard to the animals welfare or natural rights.

Please, don’t ever call me or my hunting brothers and sisters ‘cruel’ while you tolerate this inhumane treatment of animals for fear of being politically incorrect. Go take your protests to the really ‘cruel’ in this (or any other) country. And that includes the animal charities who purport to rescue but actually end up culling thousands of animals every year. Good intentions but poor management.

Funny word, ‘cruel’, isn’t it?

©Wildscribbler, August 2015

Reflections On The Cecil Saga

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So, an American dentist pays megabucks to add a lion to his bucket list of hunt trophies. He gets his monies worth with a huge male lion, selected for him by a trusted (by him) personal guide. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t know the animal had been ‘Disneyfied’ by a number of researchers who had decided to name him … and this is where I really feel sorry for the beast … “Cecil”.  Cecil was special, it seems. Father to many, a supreme hunter, once the scourge of the local impala and zebra population. He was also ‘old’ in lion terms. Whether his cull was legal, moral or necessary is a pretty mute point right now. He’s dead. Live by the sword, die by the sword. The impala and zebra herds won’t be weeping and wailing or gnashing their teeth like the millions of misinformed anti-hunting, social media, armchair snipers who jumped on the ‘Cecil was murdered!’ band-wagon.

What we do know is that ‘The Dentist’, like hundreds of the hunting tourists who visit these reserves to cull the odd, selective animal (usually at the agreement of the wardens and ecologists), pumped a significant fund into the system which exists to preserve the prime animals in a struggling eco-system. Take away that sort of funding and you can kiss goodbye to lions, elephants, tigers, leopards and polar bears. They will be poached to extinction, as is threatened with the rhino. But hey, that’s Africa and Asia … and it seems the death of a single lion causes more of an international outrage than thousands of children  dying from drought, aids, malaria et al. In both continents, cities are being plundered and people slaughtered in the name of religion. Bribery and corruption is rife. Millions of pounds of foreign aid and charity donations are being ‘misappropriated’. But hey, WTF, what about the lion?

My evening trawl around the social media sites tonight was swamped with ‘Cecil’ comments. I didn’t see many about starving children or weeping women. I did see the Gervais picture again, stating that anyone who enjoyed seeing animals in pain or dying were c*nts. I, and most hunters, couldn’t agree more. We don’t do ‘suffering’ or ‘cruelty’. We cull quickly, accurately and efficiently. Nor do we enjoy the moment. Gervais, with his completely sanitised urban view of the wild animal, is a sad reflection of how celebrity manipulation of the media has helped mis-inform the general public. He should focus more on how his chicken, beefburger or tofu got on his plate?

My case, of course, isn’t helped by my hunting brethren insisting on putting up ‘trophy pics’ at every opportunity. I’ve never really understood this myself. As a shooting writer and photographer I have to include respectful pictures of shot quarry in magazine articles and books, simply to give credibility to the advice I’m giving … but I never share these on social media. Why would I?

Cecil is dead, long live the next Cecil. His hunters money will help preserve more Cecils (sorry, lions) for our grand-children to see. But … modern education being as it is … I can forsee a day in a future history lesson where the teacher asks “Who killed Cecil the Lion?” and some poor child will put up his hand and say “Please, Miss … I know, I know! It was a c*nt!”

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, August 2015.


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

The Misinformed (Part Two)

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A piece I put up on here earlier this week seemed to have provoked much interest and emotion (The Misinformed). Many people took it to be a defence of foxhunting (a passionate and divisive subject) and so launched into the usual diatribes about hounds ripping animals apart and a perceived hunting elite charging about in red coats? That was not the purpose of my post at all. If you read through liberal eyes and not an anti-hunting (the term hunting covers a plethora of activities) red mist then you will realise I was questioning how the future of our species will cope if ‘progress’ smothers the bushcraft and fieldcraft skills that we have developed across several millennia. Skills that dragged us from crawling on all fours to the highly developed species we are today. I must admit to being amazed at the few critics of my piece who said that now, in the 21st century, we have evolved beyond the need for hunting? And again I am taking that as a broad-brush statement meaning that these folk think that we have evolved beyond killing an animal for the table, to protect a crop or to protect a herd. For the benefit of the misinformed (I won’t apologise for the use of that term again) that is what ‘hunting’ is. One creature killing another for food, to feeds its dependents or to protect its territory. Unless I missed out on a biology lesson or two, homo sapiens are animals too

Forgive me for analysing this a bit further and attempting to follow their reasoning? If mankind can’t have a mandate to hunt, then it is denied the right to an alpha species status. So, logically, we shouldn’t farm either. If we can’t hunt then we shouldn’t round up and selectively breed animals for food or fibre. It took a hell of a long time to evolve from hunter to herder and for both to compliment each other. Thousands of years. So I will happily ignore claims that a hundred years of urbanisation have negated the need for the hunter / gatherer / farmer to exist.

One constant companion of the hunter has been the dog. It has been genetically proven that every dog species today has a common genetic link to the wolf. A relationship with the wolf and its subsequent hybrids developed over those millennia which added an advantage to our pursuit of meat for the table. A relationship which benefited both species (incidentally, the fox has a genetic missing link to wolf and dog). The hybrids, the first hounds, added speed, scent awareness and hearing advantage to the hunters toolbox. If that relationship hadn’t been forged, none of you would have a pet dog today. Fido would be extinct. The wolf or wolf/dog would have been simply another food source. We, mankind, developed an ability to synchronise with another species and develop that relationship into a beneficial, symbiotic partnership. Dogs were evolved to hunt for food and to protect crops (ironically usually from their genetic predecessor, the wolf).

Every day millions of folk turn on their TV sets to watch the wonders of the wild in their living room and exalt the magnificence of the prowling lion or sprinting cheetah pulling down a wildebeest or impala. Full-on hunting action complete with blood and guts, in glorious HD format, brought into the home via superb technology and filming while the viewer is stuffing their sanitised cardboard beef burger down their throat. Everyone says ‘Wow!’ TV awards are dished out for the superb, raw educational content of the documentary series. And I applaud that too. But hey? Chasing down a rabbit or hare for the table? Where’s the difference? That’s where greyhound racing was founded. Oh, I remember. It’s because, according to my recent ‘protagonists’ the reason we don’t need to hunt is because meat is readily available in the supermarket. Because we have ‘evolved’ and it’s the ‘21st century’. Really? So how did the meat get there? That’s where you ‘hunting critics’ really need to focus your attention. Wild meat like venison, gamebird and rabbit … meat drawn from the field using gun, trap, net (or bow in the USA) … is pure, untainted and hard won.

Culling vermin to protect crops and herds is legitimate. It helps spring lambs and poultry to live a free-range life with reduced threat of predation. The most vulnerable time for crops is while breaking ground as shoots. Depending on the crop itself, vermin control will save valuable acreage. Of course, these are arable crops … so how can a vegetarian contest this? A woodpigeon can devour up to 150 peas in one sitting, storing them in their crop. I could put up a photo to prove this but I don’t need to and you really wouldn’t want to see it. Just pull a pack of Bird’s Eyes peas out of the freezer and count them. Divide the contents of the bag by 150. Work out the cost of the cost of the bag per 150 peas. Multiply that by the estimated two million woodies in the UK right now. Then realise that I’ve just talked about one feeding session. Don’t ever try to tell me that hunting, crop control and vermin control is non-essential in the 21st century. There is almost a case for a national industry in woodpigeon control alone.

The one thing I abhor above all things is hypocrisy. If you eat meat, it came from a dead animal, which didn’t commit suicide. If you are vegetarian, your food was protected from predation and contamination, the latter probably by chemical intervention. The former by pest control by people like me. Get used to it. Accept it.

I could get into a serious rant here about the ‘The Misinformed’ but I’ll cut it short with a few simple questions. Where does your dog and cat food come from? How many creatures does your cat kill when let out? Is TB in cattle acceptable? How many of you have had your hen house trashed by a fox? Does a beef ‘finisher’ herd die of old age? What bird lays sausages? Did you have turkey for Xmas? How many trees were cut down to print Fifty Shades Of Grey? How would you deal with hitting a deer on a country lane and it didn’t die but lay there kicking?

One of my critics this week called me ‘condescending’. You’d better bloody believe it. Because I live in the real world. Not a pampered, Disneyfied, shallow landscape where wildlife and conservation are comfortably squeezed between Eastenders and the News At Ten and distorted for political agendas.

Before you brand me as ‘angry’. I’m not really. I love the countryside, what I see in it and what I achieve in it. But I actually spend a lot of time there. Hunters do. If you are anti hunting, can you say that of yourselves?

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, June 2015

The Misinformed.

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Fox watching from behind tree

Across the decades there has always been a difference in views, yet fairly conservative opposition to hunting and farming. The Industrial Revolution and consequent urbanisation of Britain has left a legacy of a few generations of citizen who are totally detached from the traditions of rural life, farming and hunting. Miseducated now by the sanitised portrayal of wildlife, they are beyond hope. Due to the mind-bending of animal and bird charities (helped by a willing media), we have stumbled beyond ‘Disneyfication’ and plunged over the same precipice as Bambi’s father. Those who have never felt hunger will never appreciate where food comes from. Those who have never had to catch, harvest and prepare their own meal will never understand the concept of hunter / gatherer. Those who have never had to protect a herd or crop will never sympathise with the need to cull nuisance or predatory species.

The opposition to perfectly legal and necessary rural activities has gained a new breed of supporter. The Misinformed. Organisations like LACS, PETA, the RSPB or RSPCA have easy prey now (forgive the pun) because they are not targeting an educated audience with their distorted and hateful propaganda. They are recruiting a generation of humans who have little concept of natural history, rural tradition or purpose. This is the microwave, smartphone, hypermarket generation. This morning on a local radio quiz I heard an intelligent 30 year old asked “What animal lives in a drey!” His answer? “A beaver”! A news story told how Norfolk County Council are running cookery courses for young parents to show them how to use an oven and cook fresh vegetables. They have people coming to them, parents of young children, who have never peeled a potato, fried an egg or prepared fresh green vegetables. I was saddened by both incidents but it made me realise how dependent the world has become on consumer fodder rather that fresh produce. There was a story on social media recently about a mother whose young son refused some steak because he had seen it raw and was told it came from an animal. Refusing to eat it, his mother asked what he would like instead. His answer was “chicken nuggets”!

I wonder where this modern tribe of animal rights activists and hunt sabateurs go for dinner? Surely they can’t all afford Cafe Nero? When they gang up and get on the mini-bus what do they pack in the rucksack besides crowbars and pepper spray? Cucumber sandwiches? I doubt it and I feel that a huge aura of hypocrisy surrounds these so-called animal champions. Of course, there is an older (which should mean wiser, but sadly doesn’t) breed of activist. A species who attack the traditional rural way of life from the comparative luxury of celebrity status. Interestingly, all of them aspire to recognition as wildlife ‘experts’ which makes their pathetic whining all the more annoying. Of course, each one of them will get more ‘hits’ on a salacious social media blog than your average country-sports magazine will sell copies in a year. Thus the logarithms of propaganda will continue unabated. The Misinformed will multiply and more warped individuals who think meat arrives in the supermarket by magic, beavers live in dreys and squirrels hibernate will join the ranks. Of course, these balaclaved’ champions of the oppressed (their perception, not mine) wouldn’t dare turn up at a Halal abbatoir for fear of meeting their match.

Take away the fast-food pampering of the urban communities, hold back the milk and butter, ransom the potatoes so that the frozen chips dry up. Sell the chickens, sheep and cattle in the market place again. Make people grind the grain, make their own flour and bake their own bread again. Then watch how society wakes up to the importance of rural tradition … and perhaps then the urban will stop interfering with the rural. Rock stars will stick to making music. Comedians will continue trying to be funny. Charities will re-visit their contributors mandate and we will all learn to live in harmony again.

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, June 2015

The Games Naturalists Play

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There is an interesting piece in this weekends Eastern Daily Press ‘Weekend’ magazine by Mark Cocker entitled ‘Striking A Balance Been Man And Conservation’. It wasn’t that title that caught my eye. It was the sub-title ‘Can you reconcile being a shooting estate with nature conservation?’ Oh dear. Here we go again. The EDP is a huge publication in East Anglia, yet a strange animal. It does magnificent work in promoting agricultural activities or news … and so it should. For East Anglia is probably 70% farmland? Who knows? East Anglia also has a huge shooting / hunting / stalking fraternity which the EDP chooses to completely ignore.  Actually, the piece itself wasn’t bad and gave great credit to the work done on the Raveningham Estate in Norfolk by Sir Nicholas Bacon and (in particular) Jake Fiennes, the estate manager. I like Mark Cockers work and his writing in general but what disturbed me about the article was the undercurrent of mistrust of shooting estates and farmers in general. Statements like ‘ I began to appreciate that Jake Fiennes is an unusual farmer …‘ and ‘ For a naturalist like me to hear a commercial farmer speaking of and implementing such a balanced approach to management is enormously encouraging ‘. I have permission to shoot pests and small vermin across a tiny proportion of the same county, some 3000 acres. The purpose being crop protection (rabbits, pigeons and rats) and songbird protection (squirrels and corvids). Farmers and estate owners ask me to help with the latter because they love wildlife too. I am surrounded in Norfolk by landowners who are engaged in Higher Stewardship Schemes, participate in the annual wild bird counts or Open Farm Days and they deliberately lay cover crops which attract songbirds and bees. So why does Mark Cocker think Raveningham is so unique? It smacks of someone who rarely has access to farmland, yet I can’t believe that of one of the UK’s most well known bird writers. His article got me thinking about what defines a ‘naturalist’. For, although I usually carry both gun and camera (see my wildlife photography site here and please note that 95% of these images were captured on Norfolk farms and shooting estates) I also consider myself a naturalist. A shooting naturalist. Out of the same mould as ‘BB’ (Denys Watkins-Pitchford), James Wentworth Day, Richard Jeffries or Ian Niall. Yet I live in an age of far more knowledge, restraint and appreciation for the fragility of our wildlife. My own books reflect my love of nature. There is no better learning than in seeing, first hand, the way Mother Nature can herself endorse what the ignorant would call ‘cruelty’? Yet there is no cruelty in death. It is as natural as life itself. Cruelty is about deliberately inflicting pain, stress and suffering. So if I’m watching the magpie pair hunting the hawthorn hedge, methodically extracting blackcap, robin and chaffinch fledglings while the parent birds flutter around (distressed and impotent) am I wrong to lift the gun and restore the balance? I think not. To watch would be cruel. To intervene, with the tools do so, is natural. If my intervention is wrong then so is the very act of ‘conservation’ itself. For conservation is man manipulating the natural order. There is no difference and for anyone to say otherwise is total hypocrisy. Incidentally, one of Mark Cockers best works sits on my bookshelf along side those of the shooting naturalists mentioned above. It’s called Crow Country. It centres on the world of rooks, much of the text based on the Buckenham rook roost, close to Marks home and not too far from mine. The roost is next to the huge Buckenham Fen RSPB reserve. The rook roost however (nationally famous) has grown to magnificence in alder carrs owned not by the RSPB, but by a shooting estate, and protected by its gamekeeper. I rest my case.

Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, June 2015

Spring Watch … A Post-Script

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My post last night seems to have provoked much sympathy, not just from the shooting and gamekeeping community but also from many ‘birders’ who want to distance themselves from the deliberately divisive antics of a few attention seeking ‘media stars’. It seems that many of the ground level non-shooting wildlife watchers actually do appreciate the need for predator control. They just wouldn’t want to do it themselves. I am going to make a public apology here for ‘generalising’ the birding community in my comments last night because I didn’t intend that at all. My comments were directed at the elitist bloggers and media personalities who purport to represent the average bird watcher or wildlife lover and actively promote propoganda (and this includes the BBC, who allow this) which mis-informs the public. To continually brand game-keepers as wildlife criminals, without direct evidence, is libellious. I will never apologise for my anger at public figures using their media status to promote mis-information and engender hatred amongst their followers for solid working folk who are going legitimately about their business. It’s outrageous and I’m not going to sit back and ignore it. Today, I have been contacted by a couple of organisations who have asked me to temper my comments because they are ‘trying to build bridges’. I refuse to do that. You can’t reason with the unreasonable. You can’t build a bridge unless there is a bank on either side. To re-iterate, I am a pot-hunter, a songbird protector, a crop protector. Look at my websites. I promote balance and love studying all wild things (not just birds and mammals). My photography proves that. I apologise to no-one for these activities. I guess, therefore, I am also a ‘birder’. So I’m apologising to myself tonight too. But please, if you love wildlife, ignore the sanitised views of media presentation. Many of you saw an owl cannibalise its own chick on TV last night? That’s nature. Fickle, cruel, fascinating and amazing. That’s Mother Nature in reality. Humans are animals too. High order. We are entitled to hunt, cull, farm, control and conserve. We’ve being doing it for millenia. We will continue to do that even after the cities fall to ruin. After the principles of governance and common law fail. When the world is in turmoil all communities look to the farmer and the hunter for food. They always have. I will end with a question. What did you eat today? And I pose that question to the individuals I openly criticised last night? Just asking. I, too, would condemn the illegal death of a raptor. All of my peers would. So why can’t you concentrate your attention (Avery and co) on the RSPB agenda. You forgot the birds. Leave the keepers alone.

Springwatch … arrogant or deliberately divisive?

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I have enough good friends on Facebook to have pre-warned me not to watch tonights Springwatch. From what I hear, I’m glad I didn’t. It annoys me at the best of times, despite the superb videography. I did something far more positive this week. I joined the GWCT. Just pick up a copy of their 2014 Annual Review and look at the last few pages. Check out the credentials of the plethora of staff working for them. In particular, their qualifications. Then compare that to the aggregation of self-promotional, feather kissing, bird bothering, bunny hugging muppets that purport to defend nature through the national media. Yes, I’m talking May, Oddie, Avery, Gervais et al. They make their case from a base of zero knowledge and limited contact with wildlife other than the odd walk around a clinical nature reserve with a pair of binoculars (they wouldn’t have the fieldcraft skills to sit next to a wild bird or animal). Those of us involved in game and wilderness preservation, conservation of songbirds and vulnerable species know that predator control is essential. Yet we also know that certain species are ‘verboten’ and we (more than any twitcher or armchair wildlife pundit) know the principle of natural balance. Springwatch conveniently ‘turned off’ the 24/7 camera coverage this week when a bearded tit nest was cleared out by predators. They chose to infer that the culprit was a brown rat (everyone hates brown rats, don’t they?). Will they ever reveal the truth? Perhaps a fox or mink that could only be there due to the RSPB denial of a need for predator control? The bird-botherers are increasingly turning their attention to attacking the very people who work to preserve the natural balance of the British ecology. People like you and me. People who live and breathe conservation, balance, species preservation and protection. Yet people who, through succesful and traditional methods, have hunted and trapped and shot without disturbing natures balance. Why do institutions like the BBC (allegedly neutral), the RSPB (You Forgot The Birds), the RSPCA (you forgot the definition of ‘cruelty’), continue their attacks on the people closest to the countryside who actually sustain the country traditions and sustain our wild land for the benefit of all wild creatures.

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, 2015