Monday, 22 August 2016

Wild boar cull or indiscriminate, shoot on sight, killings?

The wild boar in the Forest of Dean, and rest of the UK, will breed in direct relation to the environment they live in, this have been proven year after year by simply watching them and recording the field signs and territorial changes. We have been studying the wild boar of the Forest of Dean for over a decade, and to us at least, it is very clear why the population is continuing to rise, despite increased killing, and it may surprise you.

The culls! Yes, simply the higher culls are to blame for higher population figures, the wild boar are re-actively breeding to counter higher cull targets. if you look back approx 7 years ago when there was a little more reluctance to shoot anything that moved the wild boar population was pretty static and would fluctuate a lot less based on natural population impacts (road accidents, disease, predation of piglets).

Fast forward to 2012 ish, when the Forestry Commission, unfortunately led by Kevin Stannard, decided he knew best and would start ignoring anyone with an opinion different to his and start increasing cull targets. He assures us time and time again it is not about the £000s they get from meat sales, although I am sure his budget would suffer if this income was taken away.

What have we seen? We have seen increased persecution of wild boar as they leave the Forest unnaturally to avoid rifles, we see them breeding at an all time high due to the wild boar doing what any species would, and that's reacting to pressure on their population and breeding more. But, rather than sows having more piglets per litter we are simply seeing more of the sexually mature females giving birth every year, rather than every other year, but to the same number of piglets they have always had. Just for the record, and benefit of some local councillors wild boar DO NOT breed 3 times a year and give birth to 15 piglets at a time, this is nothing short of propaganda anti boar councillors use to justify more killings in the woods.

What is probably more worrying is that the FC sent a team of rangers to Europe to learn how to 'manage' wild boar, bearing in mind no where in Europe has successfully managed wild boar with guns yet and populations are even higher on the continent. We have been saying for a decade that we need to look at non lethal, non threatening measures like birth control, which is available now if only the FC mgmt were willing to trial it again and work with those who know about the species to determine the best way of administering this medication.

We are not having 'culls' here in the UK of wild boar, it is simply indiscriminate, shoot on sight, policy of killing animals. We have spoken to many rangers over the years who are acting under orders and they cannot tell us why they shoot the individual animals they do, there is no selection process, they are simply told to go out and shoot as many as they can in their office hours. This is confirmed with the cull statistics when we see piglets cage trapped and shot, healthy adults shot and they shoot in the middle of the forest driving animals outwards, rather than an outwards in policy, not that we agree with any cull because it simply isn't working.

So, here we are 15 years since wild boar started becoming more common in this area and we have increased persecution, which leads to more complaints, which leads to a justification for the FC to increase killing targets, which leads to more carcasses they can sell for meat. But we are told it is not about the £000s, we will leave you to decide.

But we do ask one thing of the locals in the FoD, while the killing increases, and the animals run out of the woods for cover, please don't blame the wildlife, blame the policy makers who are failing on many levels and are too proud to admit they have got it all wrong and will never admit they need to start listening to people who spend 365 days a year with wildlife and not rely on a set of surveyors who may come down once or twice a mth using a fault ridden method of surveying to guess populations and play god over the woodland populations.

There is room for every species here in the Forest of Dean if only we looked at the sensible non lethal method of wildlife 'management' before loading a gun.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Animals vs The Forestry Commission

If you disagree with something you have a right to voice an opinion, and we always do so in a constructive and polite manner. We will never lower ourselves to insults and rudeness, and online hate campaigns, as we all too often face towards ourselves. After a recent statement about not allowing animals on Forestry Commission (FC) managed land to receive help we have put the wheels in motion to fight this decision through the correct process and central Government (if needed); we believe it is inhumane, illegal and failing a duty of care by the land management company (FC) who look after PUBLIC land. After seeing these deer earlier, it was a reminder that while there is any chance to help them we will take every opportunity.
Fallow Deer in the Forest of Dean
The FC policy of indiscriminately shooting any animal that is orphaned, trapped or injured without assessing if rehabilitation can take place is immoral stance to take in 2016. Only last week an orphan animal was found and the FC reply was 'we will help but we will shoot it', we cannot accept this as a suitable approach in all cases, and humane dispatch should only be a last resort when there is no chance of successful treatment and return to the wild. We don't charge authorities (FC, Police etc) for our help, so cost is not an issue, this is simply about the higher management of the FC putting their pride aside and accepting that others may in fact know more about wildlife conservation and rescue/rehabilitation than they do. Watch this space, we have only just begun this latest fight for all animals, in the Forest of Dean, whether it be mammals, herptiles, birds or insects, that deserve a little more respect and a chance to live.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A Wild Life with Animals Newsletter - What a year!

A Wild Life with Animals Newsletter - What a year!

2015 has been a challenge in many ways for the AWLWA team, from the long applications to ensure we are recognised as a charity through to building a whole new team from scratch of people who could represent AWLWA and be there for animals with the same passion I started the group with several years ago.

We have had a record number of calls this year and helped an extraordinary wide range of species big and small. From Minty the wild boar being brought back from certain death in the Spring and getting her a lovely forever home to seeing baby adders born in our room in the summer and releasing them a few hours later back to the wild. From a record number of hedgehogs though our doors in the Autumn right through to Chancer the Christmas day foal, it's been challenging but worth every second of our time.
We've tried to share as much of our journey as we can with you all on here, however behind the scenes we are so much busier, AWLWA is (and always will be) far from a 'one man band' and I'm grateful to everyone who helps our cause. To see your constant support on here and see this page hit 10,000 likes really keeps us going and shows us there is a demand for what we do; knowing we have such a friendly AWLWA family behind us motivates us to keep fighting, especially in the tough times, to keep as many animals alive as we can.
After all that is why AWLWA was created, to save, and raise awareness of, as many animals as possible.
Thank you again and enjoy 2016, we all look forward to you continuing to share AWLWA journey.
Scott, Helen, Rosie, Stacey, Lisa, Caroline and Carol (the AWLWA team).

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Reap what you sow, or ask for a more humane world...

This time of year in the Forest of Dean we have a mass cull of wild boar, until the Spring, and in a few weeks pregnant sows will be dying and in the Spring we will see more orphaned piglets when mums are shot leaving young to starve, this is legal and 'best practice' according to DEFRA. 

We were called to 7 orphans last year, and only one survived, Minty.

The same people that called for a cull also increase their moaning and their letters to the press about wild boar rooting nearer villages and towns during autumn and winter, it happens without fail every single year.

I'm sorry but I have little sympathy, if you were being shot at in the woods what would you do? Sit there and catch bullets, I think not, the boar spread outwards to try and avoid being killed, it's natural fleeing for their lives. It's a case of the people who were calling for more marksmen to 'reap what you sow'. 

When the Forestry Commission were culling in smaller numbers, approx 3/4 years ago, wild boar were breeding in smaller numbers and not being persecuted so much, now there is a mass cull they are reactively breeding to counter this.

You asked for a mass cull, you have it, now deal with consequences or write to the FC and ask them to trial non lethal birth control, we have been asking for a decade with no joy. 

Wild boar will always need management, that's not up for debate, anyone who says they don't really do not understand this magical species, but lethal control is not the answer.

We need humane birth control which will slow the breeding of wild boar without them knowing, without them viewing humans as a threat and subsequently evolving to attack more readily and without trying to breed to make up for slaughtered family members.

But the FC seem reluctant, maybe as they won't be able to sell the carcasses for meat, but as Kevin Stannard has told me to my face many times it is not about the money, what is the issue in trialling a non lethal method of management, or do they enjoy the persecution as it fuels a cull which brings them several £100,000s a year.

There is room for us all if only we could get along.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Wild Boar - Educate, don't dictate..

We have been speaking up for wild boar for many many years. And our ethic hasn't changed, we will only tell the truth about this and all other other species of wildlife.

When we look a wild boar in the eye we don't get a sense of danger, we simply see a wild animal trying to survive, an animal that's not looking to scare people, not wanting to attack dogs, and not purposely digging up gardens.

Just a wild animal trying to survive.

We realise not everyone likes them, and there are a % who will never change their minds however hard we try, those people we don't waste our time on.
But, we are willing to work with the people who are undecided on the wild boar, those who may feel uneasy around them.
We will never turn down a request to go out with someone and walk past wild boar with them and show them how this animal reacts in the wild, and hopefully this may go a small way in easing any anxieties. No one should feel afraid in the woods due to the lies in the press.

We aren't wanting to dictate to people about wild boar, we want to educate and help people, that's a small price to pay for the pleasure this species brings us.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Rainbow Bridge - One Final Rescue

Unlike most days at the Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and grey, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.

It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at Rainbow Bridge for a while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times.

Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over the Rainbow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below.

With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm. Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting.

One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him.

"That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. The way you see him now, with greying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels. He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge."

The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?"

As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever. This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life.

From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway. As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together.

The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?"

"That was a rescuer," came the answer.

"That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive. Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals."

"I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival.

"So does God," was the reply

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Give a little respect...

A 'bite my tongue' moment this evening.

Went for a walk in an area I know there are a lot of species of wild life that enjoy dusky evenings inc deer, fox, badgers and boar with young.

Sat down enjoying the evening sounds and a beautiful collie came running up to me. Lovely boy and he had lots of treats whilst I walked him 1/2 mile back to his owner who just stood on one spot screaming his name. This could have been so different for the poor dog:
  • What if I was on the market for bait dogs.
  • What if I had dogs recovering from a traumatic experience and didn't like other dogs?
  • What if I was riding a horse?
  • What if I was felling trees?
  • What if the treats I had were laced with rat poison?
  • What if I was a young deer?
  • What if I was a female wild boar worried my piglets were about to be killed?
  • Or even a badger with has one of the most powerful, gram for gram, bites in the animal kingdom!!!

What was the response for taking dog back? Nope, not a thank you. Just 'oh, i guessed he must have seen someone else' then they walked off, dog still off the lead!!!

Don't blame the dog in the slightest but we hear time and time again that wildlife has to be slaughtered due to, in the Forestry Commission words 'negative interactions with humans and dogs'. Before any wild animal is killed it should be mandatory for ALL people using wild spaces to use common sense.

But then I know I am living in dreamworld!! There is room for all species on this planet, if we all show consideration.