Tag Archives: animal welfare

Wildlife crime unit faces extinction over cutbacks

There is growing concern that funding problems may result in Britain’s National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) being axed.

The NWCU is a national police unit that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides investigative support to police services. Defra has agreed its own share of the funding, but the Home Office has yet to sign off the £136,000 required to ensure the unit’s survival. There are fears it may fall foul of the 20 per cent cuts in police budgets being implemented by the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

More than 100 MPs have already signed an early day motion calling on the Government to secure the future of the NWCU, which combats everything from rhino-horn theft and illegal trade in reptiles to persecution of birds of prey. The unit, whose funding runs out on 31 March, has been busier than ever in the last few months. Wildlife crime of all types is rapidly growing across the world, with elephant and rhino poaching hitting new highs last year.

The Badger Trust said it is very concerned and has called on its supporters to both sign a petition and write to their MP, asking for their support. The RSPB is also backing the unit. Spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “With the future of some birds of prey hanging in the balance, it’s imperative that the NWCU  itself has a secure future.”

Waitrose puts Shell partnership on ice

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Waitrose has suspended plans to expand its partnership with the Arctic oil drillers Shell, after 12 days of  intense campaigning by Greenpeace.

The UK supermarket had been considering opening new shops in Shell petrol stations across the country, but Waitrose managing director Mark Price has confirmed that these plans have been put on ice until after 2013. The supermarket has also declared its support for the creation of an Arctic sanctuary, a move that would help protect endangered species, such as the polar bear, Arctic fox and narwal, by making the polar region off limits to oil drillers like Shell.

The announcement was made after nearly 40,000 people signed a Greenpeace petition urging Waitrose to break off the partnership with Shell. Activists also sent emails, posted hundreds of messages on Facebook, and staged demonstrations in Waitrose stores, including the appearance of  a life-size polar bear in Islington.

Greenpeace, which has worked with Waitrose to develop its sustainable fishing policies, said it was “shocked” that the retailer, which prides itself on its environmental initiatives, would link itself to Shell. This summer Shell tried, and failed, to drill for oil in the Arctic, after a catalogue of disasters which included breaking the oil spill response equipment during testing.

You can support Greenpeace’s campaign to save the Arctic by visiting http://www.savethearctic.org

How to give wildlife a helping hand this winter

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The coldest months of the year can be  a challenging time for birds, hedgehogs, squirrels and other wildlife.

Every winter between one and two thousand wild animals are brought into RSPCA wildlife centres suffering from dehydration, hunger and cold. As a result, the charity is giving nature lovers some great tips on how to help. Here are seven simple things you can do to try and reduce these casualties:

  • Make your garden wildlife-friendly. Leave undisturbed ‘wild’ areas in your garden and provide piles of   leaves or brushwood as nests for hedgehogs to rest and hibernate in.
  • If you have a frozen pond, make sure you check it every day for ice, as toxic gases can build up in the water of a frozen pond and kill fish or frogs. If a pond freezes over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to gently melt a hole in the ice. Never tip boiling water on to the pond as this may harm fish.
  • Feed  the birds in your garden. They may have difficulty finding normal food supplies so any alternative extra food you can put out will help. Try giving a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps and fruit. Garden birds love dried mealworms or waxworms, which can be bought from bird food suppliers.

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  • Keep a close eye on outdoor pets, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, and put extra bedding in their home and be prepared to move them into a shed or unused garage for extra shelter.
  • If horses and ponies are kept outside during the winter they must have access to shelter at all times.
  • Help squirrels survive the coldest times of the year by offering hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds, plus some chopped apple, beans, carrots or spinach.
  • Don’t ignore your pets needs while celebrating. Try to keep a regular routine of feeding and exercising them, it will keep them happy and healthy. Give your pets a treat over the festive season but remember that too much rich food isn’t good for animals. Grapes, sultanas,  raisins and chocolate are toxic to dogs.

RSPCA wildlife expert Nicola Cunningham said: “We can all struggle when the weather takes a turn for the worst, and our wildlife friends are often the most vulnerable. They just need a bit of a helping hand.”

Badgers get their own crossings

Drivers are being asked to take special care on rural roads  because the breeding season is fast  approaching and  the young start to leave their families. Experts estimate that vehicles kill 50,000 of the animals each year, particularly when  they emerge at night in search of food.

The Badger Trust said: “Traffic is the number one threat and new roads can divide territories and result in more deaths as badgers continue along their traditional routes. Motorists need to be particularly careful and go around corners ready to brake. If a vehicle is coming the other way you can see its headlights, but animals don’t have headlights.”

The Highways Agency now considers badger safety when building new roads. As part of the £175m upgrade of the main route between England and Scotland, badger-proof fencing and tunnels are being created to give wildlife a safe route under the motorway.

A dozen such “badger mitigation” schemes are being developed around the country and will join the 250 badger tunnels and some 200km of fencing already along some of Britain’s roads. The proposed high-speed rail line form London to Leeds will also feature these badger-safe accessories.

But the Badger Trust says more needs to be done and  is calling for a co-ordinated policy and greater funding to protect the animals from traffic.

Successful British badger vaccination

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This video from Britain is called Project to Vaccinate Badger – One Show 22 Aug 2011.

From Wildlife Extra:

Successful start to badger vaccination in Cheshire

12 badgers vaccinated

October 2012. Cheshire Wildlife Trust has described its first badger bovine tuberculosis (bTB) vaccination deployment as ‘extremely successful’ after a two-day programme was undertaken at its Bickley Hall Farm headquarters.

A total of 19 badgers were captured in ‘live traps’ across two separate dawn sessions, with 12 badgers vaccinated with the BCG vaccine and the remaining 7 badgers recorded as ‘re-captures’ on the second morning.

The five-year vaccination strategy taken on by the charity will initially focus on Trust-managed sites and will expand to other private land in the area over the next four years.

Speaking after the final badger had been released, Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Richard Gardner said: “We’re delighted with the result over the last 48 hours, most…

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Vaccine for bovine TB could prevent future badger culls

Vaccine for bovine TB could prevent future badger culls – Telegraph.

Greenpeace activist dressed as polar bear arrested at petrol station protest

Greenpeace activist dressed as polar bear arrested at petrol station protest | Metro.co.uk.

Badger vaccination scheme challenges government cull

BBC News – Badger vaccination scheme challenges government cull.

Huge support for badger petition

I was delighted to read that over 100,000 people have signed a petition against the badger cull, which means the issue could now be debated in Parliament.

The e-petition was launched last week by the Queen guitarist, Brian May, as part of the Team Badger campaign, after the first licence to kill the protected wild animal was issued for a pilot cull in Gloucestershire.

There is widespread anger over the Government’s decision to push ahead with the cull, which campaigners say will be of little use in reducing bovine TB, and could even make it worse in some areas.

Supporters of the cull claim the move is necessary in order to tackle TB in cattle because badgers spread the disease to livestock. But Team Badger is angry that over 70% of the badger population will be killed in large areas of the country and  is calling on the Government to implement a vaccination programme, along with improved testing.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust is leading the way. They have started vaccinating badgers against TB and hope their  five-year scheme will show that vaccination is a more effective and humane way of controlling bovine TB.

Food for Thought on Badgers…

MrE Science Blog

If watching the above video makes you feel strongly about the issues discussed then you may wish to sign the petition here.

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