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Debbie BASC

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  1. BASC welcomes drop in raptor crimes in Scotland BASC has welcomed the announcement of a 36 per cent drop in recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland. Figures released by the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland today show there were nine recorded bird of prey crimes in 2017 compared to 14 in 2016. Their report highlights that the poisoning of birds of prey appears to be in decline in Scotland with 2017 seeing one recorded incident - the lowest figure recorded since PAW Scotland began compiling data from 2004. BASC Scotland director Dr Colin Shedden said: "One incident is still one incident too many. Any incident of bird of prey persecution is unacceptable and the full force of the law should be felt by anyone who breaks it. "But we are pleased there has been a fall in the number of recorded bird of prey crimes. I think that the consistent standards applied to the recording of these incidents, compared to suspected incidents, means that there has been a significant reduction in the number of recorded offences involving birds of prey.” Dr Shedden added that a grouse moor review group had been set up and had a remit to look at potential regulatory options for shooting businesses. BASC Scotland is engaged with this review. BASC vice chairman Eoghan Cameron said: "We have been very public in our condemnation of raptor persecution and we are committed to consigning it to history. Any form of wildlife crime is a blight on the outstanding conservation work that is done in the name of shooting and there is no place for it." ENDS
  2. Thousands visit BASC website to help challenge ban on shooting in Wales More than 8,000 people have visited a dedicated webpage set up by BASC to help challenge a ban on shooting imposed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). The page (https://basc.org.uk/nrw/) was published following the decision by NRW to ban pheasant shooting on all public land following intervention from environment minister Hannah Blythyn AM. More than 2,700 people have visited a page which allows them to email the office of the environment minister direct and more than 2,500 people have visited a page which allows them to email their Assembly Member. Almost 700 people have visited a page which allows them to email NRW direct and a page hosting an open letter by BASC Council member Ian Coghill to Hannah Blythyn has been visited more than 2,600 times (https://basc.org.uk/blog/nrw/an-open-letter-to-hannah-blythyn/). BASC Wales director Steve Griffiths said: "These figures are fantastic. We are delighted that people have let Hannah Blythyn, Natural Resources Wales and Assembly Members know the strength of feeling on this issue. "If you have taken the time to visit our site and lobby your AM, Hannah Blythyn or NRW then thank you. If you haven't yet done so, please put aside a couple of minutes of your time to do so. "There is still work to be done and people need to continue getting the message across that shooting must be protected." ENDS
  3. BASC reports Lush to advertising watchdog Oct 11, 2018 BASC is complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the content of an anti-shooting film released by cosmetics company Lush. The short film – hosted by LushTimesEN – makes a number of allegations about pheasant shooting which BASC believes breach the ASA’s strict codes on misleading communications. In particular, BASC is challenging the claim that pheasants released on shoots “spread disease, eat native wildlife and create lead shot pollution”. In complaining to the ASA, BASC is also asking Lush to substantiate its assertion that “Most….pheasants die of starvation, road-accidents or are eaten by predators”. Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and deer management, said: “The emotive rhetoric in this film is so misleading that it simply can’t be allowed to go unchallenged. “It is, of course, not the first time that Lush has campaigned against shooting and we are usually happy to respond directly and constructively on behalf of shooting to set the record straight. “In this case, the film is so wrong that we feel the only option is to ask another authority to rule on the content. “Lush, as a high street retailer, has a responsibility to ensure information it releases, in whatever format, is accurate and bears scrutiny. “Lush obviously has a strong following among consumers and we believe that such films, while designed to satisfy a campaign agenda, are also being used by Lush to prop up its commercial interests. In effect, it is a de facto advert for Lush. “It is important, therefore, that inaccuracies are challenged appropriately so that they are not allowed to be presented as facts. In this case, we are asking the Advertising Standards Authority to take a position.” BASC is presenting a complaint to the ASA and is also asking individual shooters to do likewise. The ASA has previously adjudicated against Lush. BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “Game shooting and shoot management are covered by a wide range of rules and regulations including statutory codes to cover game rearing. The reality of pheasant shooting is far removed from the picture presented by this film. “The aim of any shoot manager or gamekeeper is to produce healthy birds fully adapted and living freely in the wild. The conservation benefits of shooting and its role in enhancing biodiversity are well documented. These are the points BASC will be presenting in its evidence to the ASA.”
  4. An open letter to Hannah Blythyn Oct 3, 2018 In July, Natural Resources Wales received a letter from environment minister Hannah Blythyn AM stating that Welsh Government does not support pheasant shooting, the breeding of gamebirds, or the birds being kept in holding pens, on the Welsh Government Estate. The letter referred to “ethical issues”. As part of BASC’s campaign to challenge the subsequent decision to ban pheasant shooting on public land, council member Ian Coghill has written to the minister to challenge the “ethical” basis of her intervention. Dear Hannah, You may not be entirely surprised that your view, that pheasant shooting, something which is widely accepted as a normal part of rural life over much of Wales, is unethical and immoral, is not universally popular with a large section of the Welsh electorate, especially but not entirely in rural constituencies. A problem encountered by people who attack shooting is that there is a wealth of evidence that properly conducted game shooting and wildfowling have a significant positive impact on both conservation and the rural economy. It has been repeatedly demonstrated, not only that land managed for shooting has greater biodiversity and higher conservation value, but perhaps even more striking, that without the techniques pioneered and used in shoot management, biodiversity in the wider landscape can be compromised and the survival of some important species may even be in doubt. Numerous surveys have demonstrated the importance of properly conducted shooting within the rural economy with an inflow of funds in the region of £2 billion per annum, much of it into rural communities surviving in extremely challenging circumstances. To this must be added the unquantified positive cultural and community impacts resulting from what, in many rural areas, is a key focus of local social activity. Faced with these inconvenient facts, those who attack shooting increasingly seek to simply ignore them and instead claim that stopping shooting is a moral and ethical necessity. They claim that enjoying an activity which involves killing of any sort is ethically repugnant and immoral. This clearly condemnatory position is extended to include those who allow such activities to take place. These are arguments which are intended to have the maximum political impact, an impact so great that those with power will use it to infringe the long-standing rights of a socially responsible minority. As they have apparently influenced your decision to implicitly criticise the chosen way of life of thousands of Welsh citizens, they are worth considering in detail. To have any validity, morals must be universal and absolute. The moral precept, ‘thou shall not steal’, applies to everyone and all things. Thus, a moral code which proscribes my freedom on the basis that I should not enjoy an activity which involves killing animals, should, to be valid, apply to all activities which involve killing and which give people pleasure. It should also apply equally to all people. The list of enjoyable activities which involve the death of animals is a long one, eating meat and keeping carnivorous pets being two of the most obvious. People who want to criticise my chosen way of life, from what they see as their position on high moral ground, understandably object when their own morality is called into question on the same basis that they wish to apply to others. They claim that eating parts of the body of a month-old chicken is not the same. That there is a moral distinction between getting pleasure from eating a chicken killed by someone else and that derived from shooting and eating a pheasant oneself. Morally, this is obviously nonsense. You can’t outsource moral responsibility. Try telling the judge that you didn’t murder someone, you only paid a person to do the murder and see how you get on. That said, whilst there is no moral distinction, there are indeed practical ones. When we kill our own food, we can make sure that it is done as humanely as possible; and when it is taken from the wild we can make certain that its harvest is sustainable and that it has lived a natural life. Obviously, when you employ others to do the killing on your behalf, whilst you are still entirely morally responsible for the deaths involved, you can do nothing but hope that the process is sustainable and humane and, in many cases, would have to be an incurable optimist to believe that the life experience of your enjoyable dinner even vaguely approximated to nature. Interestingly, many, probably most, of the abolitionists who pester politicians will in private agree entirely with the argument I have just briefly set out. They, and the organisations they represent, will have accepted the ‘Declaration of Animal Rights’, which states that ‘All sentient creatures have the right to life, liberty and natural enjoyment’. This obviously precludes not just eating animals, but most forms of livestock farming and pet keeping. They may agree with me in private, but they will be at pains not to do so in public. They have made an entirely rational strategic decision to pick off the outlying targets first, the minority, little-understood activities, that people will think can be sacrificed for a quiet life. They are also adept at confusing practical issues of humanity with moral issues and rights. The moral question is clearly, ‘Is it acceptable for humans to enjoy activities which involve the killing of animals’? If the answer is ‘no’, then we should stop all those activities. It would hardly be a morally sustainable position to stop those I take part in whilst keeping those that suit you. If the answer is ‘yes’, then other questions arise about how we can ensure the highest practicable levels of humanity, sustainability and naturalness. But these are practical considerations which should be based on science and practicality. Obviously, some vegans and fruitarians can argue from a position which is at least not obviously hypocritical but that does not necessarily make them right or give them the right to sit in judgement on those people who live differently. The mere fact that someone makes a personal decision to abstain from an activity, does not make those who do not do so, wrong. The existence of teetotallers with a profoundly held view that drinking alcohol is immoral, does not make those of us who choose to drink immoral. It merely shows that different people hold different views and choose to live different lives, which is the most important characteristic of a free, pluralist society. What should matter to most people, who do get enjoyment, in whatever form, from activities which involve the killing of sentient creatures are the practical questions of whether the animal’s life was as natural as possible, whether its death was as humane as possible and whether the whole process is sustainable. When shooting and angling are tested in this way they are found to be superior to most systems which generate culinary pleasure for those who do not kill their own food. You only need to compare the lives and deaths of farmed salmon with wild ones, or supermarket chicken with pheasants to see immediately that there is no contest. The process of releasing pheasants into the wild begins when they are six weeks old and put into extensive open topped pens in woodland. When they are acclimatised sufficiently to function as a wild bred bird, which takes a week or two, they fly from the protection of the release pen and live what is, to all intents and purposes, a natural life. Only around 30% will ever be shot and they will die swiftly whilst taking natural avoidance behaviour. The ones that are not shot will either be subject to natural predation or live out their full lives in the wild, and may well breed, thus completing a life cycle which is entirely natural apart from the first few weeks when they were under the care of the game farmer and gamekeeper. The supermarket chicken hatched on the same day as the pheasant will have been eaten by the time the young pheasant has been released. Its five-week life will have been as far removed from the virtually natural existence of the pheasant as it is possible to contrive. It will have been killed by putting it in a crate, driving a lorry full of crates to an abattoir, hanging the bird upside down, electrocuting it and then cutting its throat. If it is particularly unlucky the abattoir may, for religious or cultural reasons, skip the electrocution. As far as I have been able to ascertain you consider all of this entirely ethical and morally acceptable. It is an understanding of these contrasts in life and death that lies at the root of one of the most problematic issues in the countryside. To a large part of the rural population, shooting game or catching trout or salmon for the pot is, like corn harvest or sending lambs to market, a normal, natural part of life. They are accustomed to people in towns and cities having no knowledge of their lives and problems. Why should they? But what is increasingly occurring is the attempted imposition of the views and opinions of people from outside their communities on their chosen way of life. This would be intolerable, possibly illegal, with any other minority. It is particularly galling when those who are attacking an activity are operating from a position which is manifestly hypocritical. What often makes it worse is that when challenged the critics say that they are not attacking the individuals and communities involved but the activity itself. This can only imply that those involved are too stupid to see the error of their ways without the help of their critics, but it also relies on the nonsensical idea that committing immoral acts does not make you immoral. If you claim that shooting game and wildfowl is immoral, you cannot escape the inference that you are also claiming that the thousands of people involved are themselves either immoral or at best too stupid to understand what they are doing. As the activity is far more humane, natural and sustainable than the process which enables more than 60 million British citizens to enjoy the tender meat of 700 million 34-day-old chickens every year, do not be surprised if those who are criticised take it badly. Yours, Ian Coghill BASC council member
  5. Conservative MP says shooting is ‘a positive story that deserves to be told’ Oct 3, 2018 MARK SPENCER MP told hundreds of guests at a rural reception at the Conservative conference in Birmingham that shooting should ‘bang the drum with pride’ to ensure the Home Office fully understands its role in public safety. His comments at the joint event organised by BASC and the Angling Trust come as the Home Office considers a number of legislative changes following lengthy public consultations (https://basc.org.uk/blog/press-releases/press-releases-press-releases/offensive-weapons-bill-amendments-withdrawn/). Mr Spencer said: “Shooting should be proud of its contribution to the countryside and the environment. It is a positive story that deserves to be told. “All those who shoot, and the organisations that represent them, should be out there leading the way to ensure people understand the contribution made by shooting. They should be rightly proud of shooting’s impact on rural society. “People should also be extremely proud of shooting’s safety record and should be making sure the Home Office understands that very few problems are caused by legitimately-held firearms. “Shooting has always taken safety seriously and has been very good at self-regulation. “The shooting community should be keen to work with the Home Office and the police so that both fully understand that the level of crime among those with legally-held firearms is virtually nil. The shooting community needs to make sure it bangs the drum with pride so that people understand that. “It must be accepted that there is a financial cost to regulation but we should not be pricing people out of enjoying the countryside.” BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC, who specialises in firearms law, said: “Those who shoot are among the most law-abiding members of society. In the UK, the restrictions placed upon those who wish to hold firearm or shotgun certificates are among the most stringent in the world. “There are well-documented benefits to the economy and environment provided by those who shoot and it is extremely pleasing to hear Mr Spencer highlight these to a packed rural reception at the Conservative conference. “BASC and its full-time firearms team will continue to represent shooting’s best interests to the Home Office and the Police and will always work hard to ensure shooting’s voice is heard.”
  6. Help BASC challenge ban on shooting in Wales The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has launched a dedicated webpage to help challenge the ban on shooting on public land in Wales. The page (https://basc.org.uk/nrw/) allows all residents of Wales to contact their Assembly Member at the click of a button. The page also allows those outside Wales to contact the office of Hannah Blythyn AM and Natural Resources Wales using pre-written text to convey their concerns and disappointment at the decision. BASC Wales director Steve Griffiths said: “The manner in which Hannah Blythyn has interfered in the outcome of an evidence-based consultation and review to impose the will of anti-shooting extremists should be a wake-up call to every shooter.” The organisation is also asking members to watch and share a short film which highlights the economic, employment and social benefits shooting brings to Wales. Please visit: https://youtu.be/zjJJJ68MImg and pass on the link to friends and family, either by email or social media. Don’t forget to tag in @hannahblythyn and @NatResWales. ENDS
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