Badger cruelty and a great-spotted woodpecker

The female great-spotted woodpecker at the nut feeder

The female great-spotted woodpecker at the nut feeder

I’ve had an incredibly busy week, with three full days (Monday to Wednesday) working at the National Wildlife Crime Unit. I then gave an evening presentation to Falkirk Writers’ Circle on wildlife crime and the writing of my books, and on Thursday had a day-long meeting at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in Edinburgh.  This meeting was on the current legislation in Scotland allowing the use of snares and assessing if it is fulfilling its purpose or still needs to be improved.

Part of the day was a presentation by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) on a series of scientific studies they did on the use of snares with ‘breakaways’ – a device that allows the snare to snap open if a heavier non-target mammal such as a badger becomes caught.  I was really impressed with the work of GWCT, which was independent science and neither biased towards nor against game management. I would be surprised if breakaways on snares do not become mandatory in Scotland in the future. Despite working 40 hours in four days not including another 8 hours or so of unpaid travelling I thoroughly enjoyed my week. Retirement remains parked at least in the meantime.

Badger digging, baiting and other cruelty towards these lovely creatures featured in some of the intelligence logs I dealt with this week. I just can’t understand the mentality of adults who would want to deliberately inflict such a horrific death on any animal. With the badger having such a strong bite, the dogs are also unwitting victims of real cruelty. The most revolting thing I read during the week was of a person involved in a fox hunt in England grabbing an escaping fox by the tail and flinging it live to a pack of hounds. That some of the followers of the hunt left and went home there and then sums up the feeling of disgust of even those that have involvement with fox hunting.

On a brighter note, I am watching a female and immature great-spotted woodpecker on a nut feeder in the wood. The immature bird awaited it turn, and only managed to feed when the female hopped up the trunk away from the feeder. Great having these birds in the garden and made me wonder why a near neighbour at a farm phoned me one day asking how he could keep the woodpeckers away from the feeders to let the smaller birds feed. He was being regularly visited by three woodpeckers. I advised him to get more feeders so that there would be plenty facilities for the various species of birds visiting his garden. There was a short discussion about the price of nuts to fill them all but hopefully he took my advice.

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