‘Scaremongering & hysteria’ from usual suspects in response to Wild Justice legal challenge

It’s taken them a while, probably because they’ve been desperately trying to stem the membership haemorrhage following their recent u-turn on lead ammunition, but the game-shooting industry is back to its scaremongering best when it comes to Wild Justice and is desperately trying to claw back some credibility amongst its members that haven’t yet jumped ship.

(If you’re interested in the scale of membership upset about the lead ammunition issue, take a look at BASC’s Facebook page as the fall-out continues – it’s quite astonishing. We’re still keenly waiting to hear from the industry’s greatest cheerleader, Ian Botham, after his fantastic endorsement of lead ammunition in 2017 – see here).

Anyway, on Saturday the Telegraph published this hysteria-laden piece in response to Wild Justice’s latest legal challenge seeking a judicial review of gamebird releases:

Wild Justice has responded with a blog as follows:

Wild Justice misrepresented by Daily Telegraph, again

Scaremongering and hysteria is the response we’ve come to expect from many within the game-shooting world whenever Wild Justice launches a new legal challenge, and that’s exactly what the Daily Telegraph published yesterday in an article headlined as, ‘Dog walkers could be banned from swathes of countryside under Chris Packham plans, it is feared’.

According to Telegraph journalist Hayley Dixon, Wild Justice’s current legal action against DEFRA concerning the Government’s failure to undertake environmental impact assessments on the release of millions of non-native gamebirds near Natura 2000 sites, ‘could have a knock on effect on other activities’ such as ‘dog-walking, horse riding and farming’. Her article includes quotes from BASC, Countryside Alliance, Game Farmers’ Association and the National Gamekeepers Organisation so it’s not difficult to see what prompted the melodrama.

Wild Justice co-director Dr Mark Avery said the suggestion that dog-walking would be affected was “nonsense”, adding, “Our case is about the real issue of biodiversity concerns”.

Solicitor Tessa Gregory from law firm Leigh Day, representing Wild Justice, did provide a quote to the journalist but only part of it was published. Here it is in full:

The suggestion that Wild Justice’s legal claim could result in the need to assess the environmental impact of dog-walking in the countryside is wrong and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the law. Assessment is required under the law where, based on objective evidence, it is not possible to exclude likely significant effects of a plan or project on protected sites (known as Natura 2000 sites).

It is the scale, organisation and regularity of the mass release of gamebirds that mean such releases are capable of being a plan or project for the purposes of the law. Where these mass releases are on or near protected sites, it will in some instances (as accepted by Defra), not be possible to exclude negative impacts. It is in those circumstances that Wild Justice are asking the Government to comply with the law and carry out an assessment of the environmental impact of gamebird releases. Of course, there is nothing to fear from an assessment if a particular activity does not harm a protected site”.

Oh, and by the way, Daily Telegraph, none of the three Wild Justice Directors (Chris Packham CBE, Dr Mark Avery, Dr Ruth Tingay) are ‘animal rights activists’ as you’ve wrongly asserted. We’ve been here with you many times before (e.g. see here) and if you continue to misrepresent us we will consider legal action.


11 thoughts on “‘Scaremongering & hysteria’ from usual suspects in response to Wild Justice legal challenge”

  1. Don’t worry about all this nonsense. With the current loo roll crisis we will soon be able to use the Telegraph for its proper purpose!

  2. When the DT publishes articles like that, they no longer allow comments because I think they have been surprised by the number of people who subscribe to them that are also very concerned for wildlife and despise the shooting industry….

  3. The Torygraph if it continues publishing such poorly researched hysteria with no resemblance of the truth may find itself a more appropriate name in the current circumstances the Daily Toiletpaper! What bloody nonsense will they publish next, the Earth is flat perhaps or the government is full of clever people that in the current crisis actually know what they are doing. No the latter is probably a step too far, even for them.

    1. Do you mean the dog walkers should be able to do what they want so THEY can do the damage to the wildlife with their ignorance?
      All of the upland SSSI were designated because of what they were. This was protected by designation. NOW things cannot be managed in the same way it has been for many decades because of the designation! ? They were also recognised for species present when they were designated and that’s what will suffer due to ignorant dog walkers! Why would they want to walk on these fragile areas if all they care about is wildlife?

  4. Several people have suggested that in these dark times of a toilet roll famine we use the Daily Telegraph for this necessary procedure but, alas, I have too much respect for my backside to stoop to such a drastic measure.

    1. I invested in a bidet several years ago: feeling smug. Having said that, I haven’t soiled my hands, or any other part of my anatomy, with a right-wing rag for decades.

  5. I can remember when the Torygraph was a newspaper. If you ignored its comments and opinion pages, it did a reasonable job of reporting the news. Unfortunately, like so much of our media, including Auntie Beeb, reporting is now based on opinion, political leanings and not facts or evidence.

  6. The Daily Telegraph is trying to inflame the emotions of a certain demographic in our country in much the same way Boris Johnston did and succeeded. However the majority of those who fit this classification have no interest in Field Sports and this particular corn has been sown on infertile ground and will fail to grow. Blood Sport enthusiasts have a loyal hard core but no potential for expansion, so if the power of the small cabal at the top of this particular pyramid is confronted and defeated then that will be the game over.
    Public opinion is heavily on the side of conservationists and they are thus in a position to strike a heavy blow against the despoilment of our country and our ecology is handled correctly.
    There is a new pheasant raising facility in my area and many pheasants and red legs are released annually so I await any developments with interest in the hope that a legal intervention will be possible in the near future.

  7. Would this be a piece of biased journalism by the Daily Telegraph?
    Surely we expect, and are entitled to some honesty in the written word?

    Did the Daily Telegraph mention that despite The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which was supposed to give the public access to land mapped as “open country” such as mountains, moors or heath; that the majority of landowners have excluded people with dogs from moorland which is used for grouse shooting, except along public rights of way?

    Did they also mention that many grouse moor owners also often restrict public access for up to 28 days per year? Which is the maximum period that restricted access is permitted under the Act without an application for restrictions.

    Was there a mention that if an application is made, then the owner of a grouse moor, or those with “sporting rights” could in fact restrict public access for even longer periods if this was necessary for land management or public safety reasons, such as when heather burning takes place or wild birds are shot? (I purposely used the term”wild bird” rather than “game bird” as there is nothing particularly “sporting” about blasting another living creature with lead shot! And if I am not mistaken, there is a growing body of evidence that it is not just Grouse that are being shot!) .

    So would it not be more honest if the headline read: “Dog walkers are already banned from swathes of countryside so that a few privileged individuals can kill our wild birds”?

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