There’s an article on the Eastern Daily Press website today (here) about how ten black bin bags full of dead pheasants have been found dumped under a hedge on Persehall Manor Farm in Bunwell, Norfolk. The person who found them believes the birds had been shot.
Isn’t it wonderful that Natural England will now issue licences to kill buzzards (see here and here), in the name of ‘protecting’ pheasants, just so those pheasants can then be shot for fun and then dumped in bin bags to putrefy and rot. A great conservation story we can all be proud of.
It’s also worth repeating something we’ve mentioned before when another load of dumped pheasants had been found on a sporting estate in Scotland:
In a letter to the Daily Telegraph in November 2005 headed ‘Game birds for eating not dumping’, Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance said this:
“Every bird shot in Britain goes into the food chain, whether into participants’ freezers, or through game dealers into an increasing number of supermarkets, butchers, pubs and restaurants“.
54 thoughts on “Ten bin bags of dead pheasants dumped under hedge in Norfolk”
“Into the food chain alright”. Just that of decomposition agents!
I can’t help but worry that we are witnessing a creeping trend towards increased persecution of wildlife in the UK, with Buzzards and Hen Harriers already under direct threat of an easier legal route to lethal control. The so-called “brood management” of Hen Harriers is a particularly insidious development, and seems obviously directed towards ultimately removing the legal protection afforded to the species, on grouse moors at least. RPUK is doing a tremendous job of exposing the criminality and disseminating facts to a wider audience, but it is nowhere near prominent or public enough to finish the job. It is long overdue for natural history and conservation organisations to stand firmer and defiantly against the ongoing criminal and unethical behaviour, and cruelty involved in killing wildlife for pleasure, starting by stamping out the persecution of protected birds of prey. More than ever it falls upon the RSPB to come off the fence and FIGHT for the future of our wildlife. It’s just not good enough to hide behind the banner of “we’re a conservation, not an animal welfare organisation,” as if the two objectives are incompatible. I can hardly believe we’ve got to the stage described daily on this blog, yet still the RSPB continues to grovel to the establishment over the issue of hunting. Debate within its own membership and staff is deliberately stifled, hardly a shining example of democracy in action!
RSPB ‘sitting on the fence’ and ‘grovelling’ – have a go at the RSPB at every opportunity…..
Any better idea on how we can raise the profile of this acute problem?
Well, maybe focus your criticism on the culprits and their NGO and industry representatives – H&OT, GWCT, MA, NGO, CA etc – I’m not sure that criticising the RSPB in every comment does much to raise the profile (or address) the acute problem. It just makes the culprits smile and snigger.
yes Iain I have
raise the profile.Whist fatcats like Attenborough journey the globe filling bank accounts, our own wildlife remains one of the most persecuted in the world. I know I keep saying this but…..Attenborough needs to climb down from that fence and pitch in for relentlessly abused and pointlessly slaughtered British wildlife.
The public would listen to him and opinion would follow. You and I can rail on these pages, Facebook , Twitter, letters to the editor etc, but who are we. It needs respected public conservationalists to get off their fat arses, and none so fat as DBs at the moment.
I have tried writing to him on a number of occasions…….
Give Attenborough a hard time!!!
Well said Steve.
A new series of ‘Planet Earth’s Wildlife Crimes’, with a lean towards the UK’s disgraceful treatment of its natural heritage, narrated by Sir DA, would really put the fox amongst the hens.
you need to worry. Natural England dishes out licences to shoot buzzards to landowners and not only that but they lay down snares too . Its horrific out there when you look around our countryside. Everything set up for killing our wildlife. Men out there are nights with guns, Hunts out there blocking setts early in the morning so that foxes cannot go to ground. JUST SO TERRIBLE.
Gamekeepers looking after pheasants, also routinely kill all cats, why do you think the Scottish wildcat is nearing extinction,
But also feral cats ( dubiously legal ) and pet cats ( theft – but the police will not even issue a crime number, so there are no records of how many pet cats are stolen [ killed ] by estates/gamekeepers ) All this so idiots can shoot slow, clumsy live birds for fun ? and not even for the pot.
If they were just to shoot what they were going to actually eat, I might understand, but the object seems to be, just like grouse shooting, to kill and maim as many birds in a day as they can ? I would have thought that, psychologically, they should be deemed unfit to hold a gun licence? but no, this behaviour is applauded in some circles, mystifying ?
There must be a better use of Scotland’s land,
Well if they are killing feral domestic cats then it just goes to show that even scheming gamies are not all bad. If people must own cats then they need to keep them indoors or confined to their own property, domestic cats are not good for the outdoors and the outdoors are not good for domestic cats.
Advocating crime is not helpful, gamekeepers do not need encouragement, especially in these pages.
Why did someone have to mention the “C” word? On debating sites it often crops up as a side issue and a diversion from the more important issues being discussed. Just to nail my colours to the mast and move on, I admit I am on the side of people who defend cats, which in reality don’t threaten wild bird populations. They’d have a long way to go to catch up with all the extinct native predators! Let’s please stick to the topic of saving raptors from persecution.
The “C” word, as you put it, crops up on debating sites precisely because it IS important to some of us. To me, it is inextricably tied in with the other cruelty and hatred that the shooting industry is based on and relies on. With respect, who are you to say that we should “move on” and not discuss, however briefly, any particular aspect of these disgusting activities? It’s all part of the killing scene, even if cat-hater CrypticMirror approves.
I think the point about cats is that the density of them is far higher than any natural predators would have been, as they are fed by people and the surplus become feral. When you consider that the landscape is far removed from that inhabited by the extinct species, and intensively farmed, built on or otherwise damaged, the impact of high numbers of predators whose numbers don’t depend on natural prey abundance can be serious. Some species can cope, others such as ground-feeders or ground-nesters may be more vulnerable (eg the surprise footage of a cat destroying a Wood Warbler nest on Springwatch a couple of years ago – likelty the tip of the iceberg).
Cats in Britain are unlikely to be the main cause of declines but it is likely they can cause local declines and exacerbate wider problems, adding to the toxic mix of probelms facing certain species. This is especially so when buildings are located near important bird areas, allowing domestic or feral cats to wander off and make their impact.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a cat person, but I believe in taking responsibility for you impact on the environment including that of your pets.
My main point was, that yet another species teeters on the very brink of extinction ! THE SCOTTISH WILD CAT and the culprit ? the armed, employed and instructed, servants of the landowners, the gamekeepers.
Why ? to ‘protect’ game birds, which in turn are killed for fun, then the corpse’s dumped.
There are no ‘pest species’, there is only wildlife, and it should all be protected.
Correction! There is one pest species – the one that is responsible for things going down the pan, at an apparently increasing rate, in whichever direction you look. The intellectual acuity of this species is such that it has identified many of the causes, but appears unwilling to take effective remedial action.
Just to be absolutely clear on this, there is zero evidence that the extraordinarily high density of cats in urban areas have any impact at all on the conservation status of urban bird populations. Analyses to date indicate that, in general terms, cats aren’t a problem. They do have the potential to have localised impacts, though, as when, for example, an urban area backs onto heathland supporting birds like woodlark and nightjar. Out in rural areas cat population densities are so relatively low that they’d not be a significant factor driving the decline of most species. Feral cats hanging out within the range of Scottish wild cats are another issue entirely – shoot the lot of them I say. And cats on islands have of course driven various species to global extinction.
That feral domestic cats, and let us be clear here that this means any domestic cat not confined to its owner’s property is a feral domestic cat, cause no problems in urban areas is a proposal that is false from beginning to end. I have seen my once crowded birdfeeder turn into a desert and the pots and small bed I have in my yard for plants become covered in cat crap thanks to cat owners who take no responsibility for their pets. As I am now disabled (my health has been in decline for a while, and recently I have become all but housebound) and can no longer get down the steps into the yard so I get a helper in, at most, twice a week who can remove the cat crap from view then this represents a significant loss of amenity to me and a significant amount of harm to my own quality of life. Keep your cats indoors or do not keep cats.
Messi, when you say Zero evidence. Has the evidence been looked for? Not being funny, genuinely interested.
There is so much bad about this country’s behaviour towards its wildlife that it beggars belief.
Keep the evidence rolling – every piece is another nail in the coffin for the game shooting brigade.
If they must flytip, they could at least skip the plastic bags. Carcasses left in the open will provide valuable food for the local wildlife and return biomass with its vital nutrients and minerals back into the local ecosystem. Polybags deny even that small mercy. I suppose we should be grateful they are not covered in poison bait too, at least I hope they were not, has anyone checked?
They won’t contain nuts but they may contain traces of lead poison.
I’m sorry, but I cant believe that assertion. Everything contains nuts or nut traces these days. You are spot on about the lead though. :)
‘…. vital nutrients and minerals back into the local ecosystem.’ – not to mention a load of lead ingested by the scavenging local wildlife and concentrated lead pollution of the the ground. As regards cats, I fully agree with the comments from against feudalism and Iain Gibson. Let’s stick to the point and not appear to condone criminal behaviour of any nature.
I’m glad that you used the word ‘fly-tip’. This action is a criminal offence in and of itself under S. 33 of the Environmental Protection Act. It is yet another element of criminality associated with the shooting scene. In addition to the legal aspects, dumping plastic wrapped carcasses is yet more evidence of how laughable the claim that game-keepers are guardians of nature really is.
Yes our local deer poacher dumps the inedible remains in plastic bags. I had a word and i’m curious to see if he has taken any notice.
The price of a pint is ridiculous nowadays! And see those wind farms…
they have to keep them somewhere till they can put carbofuran on them and spread them round the landscape
To re-iterate that such livestock should be identifiable, be it with rings or microchip then they could be traced be it to expose potentially illegal disposal of carcasses in this example or for insurance purposes if involved in road traffic accidents. Tractability is key to facilitate accountability?
Aye well…what do the environment agency make of this? A ditch is a water course…. obviously “who did it” is a big question, but if it was the landowner, such deliberate pollution would result in the breach of GEAC… goodbye subsidies.
So licences are being issued permitting the killing of buzzards which are allegedly predating on valueable pheasants.
Pheasants are being shot and dumped!
What a waste of pheasants…….and buzzards
My understanding is that the significant threat to Scottish Wildcats is pollution of the gene pool due to breeding with feral cats. Ecologically speaking, cats can, and do put un-necessary extra pressure on our wildlife. It is an issue that needs addressing, although I tend to agree that is very much a minor one in terms of the valuable research and information being made available here by RPUK.
Also some respondents seem to misunderstand quite how lead shot can become toxic. It is shameful that pheasant are disposed of this way, but if spread around so that wildlife can eat them, any pellets they contain are extremely unlikely to poison anything by ingestion. Buzzards and red kites, foxes and badgers often clean up dead game that is likely to have been shot at. I see that all the time, but they are much less susceptible to poisoning this way than waterfowl are. If the evidence were there to suggest that, wouldn’t we already be shouting about it?
I am interested by your suggestion that ingestion of lead by scavenging birds and mammals is unlikely to lead to any problems.
When I searched on ‘lead levels in scavenging wildlife’, a large number of scientific articles turned up, showing that ingestion of meat from carcasses shot using lead ammunition can be a serious issue for a wide range of wildlife. Regular readers of Mark Avery’s blog will not find this surprising – regular consumption of game meat can be harmful in humans for this reason.
Maybe I’m misunderstanding something.
You really need to do some research on the significant risk to wildlife & humans from lead poisoning. Start with this:
and then head over to Mark Avery’s blog and have a look at all his posts on lead. Scientists HAVE been “shouting about it” for a long time but the Government (DEFRA) isn’t listening.
When I do research, I tend to look at all sides of the arguments, and I usually find the science supports what ever the funding body wants it to. Thus, two totally opposing views can claim that their view is the correct one, and the other is flawed science. Who, then, do you believe?
So, I tend to believe what I can see for myself, and what makes sense to me. Lead in fuel was phased out because of the way it found it’s way into the air we breathe. Lead water pipes have been mostly replaced, because of the amounts that were in water, which was in a form that could be ingested and absorbed into the bodies of who ever drank it. These are two of a number of ways that lead could be provably harmful, so Government took action. This makes sense to me. lead flashing on roofs becomes oxidised, forming a coating, and therefore relatively inert. This has not been banned, this also makes sense to me. Lead split shot for fishing was banned, and lead in cartridges for shooting over wetland was provably harmful for wildlife, and was quite rightly banned. A ban on all lead shot was also recently studied, and the conclusion was that evidence did not support a ban. Perhaps that was flawed science, I would have actually liked to see a total ban, partly for selfish reasons. To me that would have made sense, but it didn’t happen.
What I can see for myself is, as I mentioned, that a lot of wildlife already eats shot game not picked up, and thrives despite that. I eat quite a bit of game, and my dogs and hawks also eat it. There are certain times during my management processes when I will not feed game to hawks if there is a risk of shot, and I always check it anyway. But what I have found is that lead shot has already become oxidised, so in wild life, it will either pass rapidly through the digestive system, or in the case of raptors, become incorporated into pellets and cast out rather than continue through the digestive system. Yes, I am fully aware this does not always happen, for example when an animal is already ill, or half starved.
You will also know, better than most, that raptors (and other animals) that have been shot and survived, will not have all the pellets removed if the risk of further damage is likely. This is because the lead which by this time is already relatively inert, becomes sealed within the tissue and therefore relatively harmless. In that respect, lead is better than steel shot, which is very likely to result in gangrene.
I will, of course, continue to do more research, and if evidence comes to light which changes my mind, I will alter my opinion, but I will not just blindly accept versions of research which don’t make sense when I compare it with my direct experience. I think in this instance, we will just have to agree to disagree.
Chris. You would do well to read the study detailed below. It is based on detailed consideration of the effects of the ingestion of lead by red kites. You will see that, contrary to your assertion that ingested lead is harmless because it will either be regurgitated in pellets or pass rapidly through the digestive system, small fragments can become readily absorbed into the birds’ systems with consequential potential to produce dire effects. Seemingly, the smaller the fragment the more likely it is to be absorbed in this way.
Furthermore, this fragmentation of lead ammunition can occur on impact resulting in very small particles which cannot be detected by either palpation of the prey item or by the naked eye. Please see: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6498805_Lead_contamination_and_associated_disease_in_captive_and_reintroduced_red_kites_Milvus_milvus_in_England
You may well be quite correct in your views on the presence of lead in non-critical parts of the anatomy of species which have been shot and received non-fatal injuries. However, this is a side-issue, this debate being about creatures feeding on prey items containing lead and ingesting it.
Chris – trusting what you can see every day with your eyes and ignoring the scientific evidence leads to the inevitable conclusion that the sun revolves around the earth.
The best way to resolve apparent conflicts in the scientific literature is to work through the detail and evaluate the quality and quantity of evidence. If you don’t have the time or background to do that, your rule of thumb about ‘following the money’ is often a good one. If the vested interests who use, manufacture or are paid to promote shooting with lead ammunition say one thing, and scientists with nothing to lose or gain financially say another, you know who to believe.
And you’re right – funding a study can influence the results, or, more commonly, the way the results are presented. That’s why the GWCT exists.
First recorded fatality from lead poisoning for Griffon Vulture in Bulgaria
Griffon Vulture in Corsica falls victim to severe lead poisoning
New research review reveals the extent of lead contamination in wild vultures
Providing lead-free ammunition to tackle lead poisoning in Croatia
Lead poisoning and vultures: new scientific contributions
Why does it always need evidence?
It stands to reason that if lead is toxic in any form, which I’m sure it is, then it shouldn’t be dispersed into the environment.
Angling took the ‘lead’ many years ago in banning lead weights, but for some reason the shooters are generally against banning the nasty stuff.
The shooting fraternity would help their public relations tremendously if they bit the bullet and banned the lead shot.
There used to be a pair of wild cats behind my house. One was killed by the local shoot! (no longer active) The other run over a few weeks later. Strangely the wildcat study group were never interested in the carcass to check if genuine and seemed to be of the opinion there were none near me. Now with the latest camera trap surveys, turns out there are quite few near me. Maybe if they had inspected the dead one beside me they could have done a proper DNA analysis and saved a few years time establishing where they are.
Feral cats were relatively commonplace in my youth, about 50 years ago, but not nowadays. I’ve made a point of asking naturalists and birdwatchers when they last saw a feral cat, and a lot of pondering goes on without an answer. Maybe the animals are more secretive nowadays, but I find that hard to believe, and the lack of them appearing on trail cameras would suggest that is correct. It seems likely that most of the so-called feral cats killed by gamekeepers are actually people’s wandering pets. The problem is greatly exaggerated, and the plain truth is that Scottish Wildcats are nearing extinction for one overwhelming reason – gamekeepers. Hybridisation with domestic cats may threaten the purity of the species and slow down any possible recovery, but I firmly believe that even if every non-wild cat in the country was removed, the picture would not be significantly different. Gamekeepers fantasise about killing Wildcats, and the greatest honour would go to the ‘keeper who kills the last specimen in the wild. To believe otherwise is to fail to understand the true psychology of gamekeepers.
Yes I’ve noticed there don’t seem to be many pics of blatantly domestic cats coming from these trail cams, so the cross breeding threat to SWC is being exaggerated and (illegal) persecution was/is real issue?
‘so the cross breeding threat to SWC is being exaggerated’
I suspect that the level of threat from interbreeding with domestic cats is assessed from DNA sampling rather than measuring happenstance appearances on trail cameras.
How many feral cats are there really in areas with surviving pure(ish) wildcats is my point – are SWC still being killed illegally? Think there are grey areas re DNA testing and seeing what type of cats live in an area is useful, blatant tabbies seem to be rare.
Don’t know about Wildcat areas but feral cats are common on Mull. The vast majority of the ones i see are not domestic cats or if they are they have gone feral. Not sure why but they are almost all black.
I have four pheasant shoots in the area..10 miles from where this happened and am getting hassled by the owner of one about my dog straying…
Only has been doing it since they are messing about with their guns .
I am reliably informed that causing a dog to stray by leaving dead carcasses is an offence.
I’m clearly missing something – I thought pheasants weren’t even a native species? How can killing a buzzard to protect them be okay?
Money and power
Clearly a case of establishmentitis.
Just read this – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38365729
What a lot we could learn from the Japanese. Imagine every shell casing having to be returned to the ammunition store. Not sure how they’d solve the return of lead shot though. And how many shooters would pass the tests?
I frequently return home to Northamptonshire, ( I Live in Germany) I always stay with a friend that lives more or less in the middle of a field! not 300m from her house is a pen were young pheasants are kept before release into the fields a few months before shooting season!
This wood the young pheasants consider home, so when shooting starts the beaters herd these young pheasants back towards what the pheasants consider safety and home, just to fly over a row of guns and blasted out of the skies,
I was here Easter 2016 , and directly by the Home wood! is a set up Larsen trap with a live Magpie as bait ,
This bird was feed and watered with perch as required by law, although I could not see a licence number on the cage!
I returned again in Whitsun, to find the same bird in the same trap, not only that a second trap with a caught magpie from the first was not more than 50 m away!
The point of this!!!! there was no point, The young Pheasants were not introduced into the wood until before August ,when 15 weeks old or more. at which age I think to big for any Magpie or Corvid to do any damage!!!
Some life for these Pheasants , shot and killed before six months old!
Disgraceful “sport”. These people have ruined parts of Thetford Forest as the poor pheasants take over the forest for most of the year. Thank god it’s February and the end of this cruel season. Now just got the blasted deer stalkers to contend with!