Friday, 31 October 2014

The Boar Wars - how the infrastructure bill is specifically targeting wild boar.

Moving away from beavers for a while to one of my other favourite animals - the wild boar. As you know there are wild populations living and breeding in several parts of Britain, escapees who have become established and are doing well. Like the beaver they are a native animal doing what they do best - boosting biodiversity and bringing a little life back to the forest.

So far the government has left the management of these animals up to local authorities and landowners, and while there are lots of problems in how we are dealing with our new neighbours (no proper population estimates or official recognition for starters), there is not at present a policy of eradication, and this is to DEFRA's credit. So it is with great concern that I have been watching the amendments to the Infrastructure Bill that is making its way through the commons.

This Bill contains provisions, weirdly, for removing endangered species. Back in July George Monbiot flagged up the general negative impact these could have on reintroductions, in that they could lead to any animal not currently listed as living in Britain being classed as non-native. I am still hopeful that this general issue can be over come, but I am also dismayed at the obvious targeting of wild boar.

The point is that the infrastructure bill allows for Species Control Orders on invasive species, and potentially those which are not ordinarily resident. These orders make it legal for the government to force its way  onto someones land to kill a species

In recent amendments tabled to the Bill by the government (stay with me) they proposed creating a class of animals called 'not normally present'. This included some criteria, and a list. There was just one animal on the list - the wild boar. Despite the fact that they are native, and that they have been living and breeding in Britain for over 20 years, they want to make sure that they are not officially 'here'. It is biological bureaucracy of the oddest kind. There can only be one reason for this - they want the option of going after them.

Of course there is no guarantee this will be the final language, and I suppose its inclusion could just be a precaution. Perhaps the government has no intention of trying to wipe out boar populations, but in playing its hand so obviously, we get a useful insight into DEFRAs thinking.

NOTE:

The amendment says:

“PART IB
ANIMALS NO LONGER NORMALLY PRESENT

  
Common name

Scientific name

Boar, Wild

Sus Scrofa.””







Friday, 24 October 2014

No thank you, I'm a vegetarian.

Of all the myths about beavers, the one that causes the most harm is the idea that they eat fish. They don't.


Thanks to @yasmeenmay for the picture!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Secret documents blow DEFRA's case for capturing Devon beavers out of the water

Hi everyone - I recently put in a whole bunch of Freedom of Information requests on the Devon beavers. After a lot of back and forth I have my answers. And its a treasure trove. We have the government admitting that the animals are native, and may not be a significant threat to public health.

Then there is the bit where they explain that there is no excuse for capturing the kits born in the wild, as they could not possibly be carrying disease. And the part where they say they will need a good excuse to explain why the situation in England is so different to that in Scotland where wild beaver exist.

Finally there is a document where DEFRA explains that they are worried that any fuss over the beavers could get in the way of legislation to allow them to force their way onto people's land to control 'invasive' species.

I'll be going through these for some time - but if you want to look yourselves, they are here.