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Discussion in 'Fair Game' started by daveO, Apr 25, 2019.
Well, the backlash seems to be massive, so maybe the Politicos will listen!
Slightly off topic but related, there have been huge numbers of birds of prey being killed or tagged ones going missing over grouse managed land in the Peak District and Yorkshire dales. In grouse shooting areas this is a massive problem and also illegal.
Suppose it depends which social media circles you see (there can be that social media bubble), farming weekly? ran a poll To see if he should be sacked from the bbc, it was 70% no the last time I saw it. There seems to be larger support for him. Also having two dead crows hung from his front gate will probably galvanize more support. I don’t have a problem with someone employed by the bbc to talk about wildlife supporting wildlife. As I also wouldn’t have a problem from someone employed by the bbc to talk about farming supporting the farmers’ viewpoint.
Before I say anything to upset anyone I'll say 'I know that not all farmers are the same' but around here the ewes that die birthing are left in the field for days and the ravens don't need to go after any live food; there's ample carrion. I have lived in the country most of my life, my first job was a farm labourer, and I've walked and hunted in the countryside since I was a nipper - I have never seen a corvid kill a healthy lamb. I remember a study a few years back that found that predation as the root cause of lamb deaths (as opposed to the lamb being unhealthy or something to start with) accounted for only 3%. By far the highest cause (I believe well over 80%) was due to bad husbandry - that would certainly apply to some of the farms around here.
There isn't a ban on shooting pest species as far as I can see; there's just a ban on using the general license. Anyone can apply for a specific license but to do that they would have to demonstrate that they are a) competent and b) tried other non-lethal methods - and that is how it should be. Unfortunately, it took up to 30 days to get a licence before this farce.
I've always been a little dubious on the crows killing lambs thing.
I think we need the general licence but reduce the number of species on it to invasive species and wood pigeons. I feel that applying for a specific licence for rooks is workable as you can monitor local population size fairly easily. But if a farmer has to apply for a specific licence to protect his pea crop after they have proved that non lethal means haven't worked and it takes 30 days they'll have nothing left by the time it approved.
I feel really sorry for any farmer who's planted peas or brassicas this year. If this isn't sorted no one will plant them next year so we'll all be paying more for imported veg. And the woodies will still be able to feast on clover in pasture land so dairy and livestock farmers will see their profits fall more.
I think that's a bit harsh, though I do not live in your area.
Corvids learn. They learn from each other too. New born lambs are vulnerable. It's one thing to take the afterbirth, but the hoodies are known to take lambs eyes and tongues, indeed will try to take them of the resting ewe too. It's a known problem, and the only way to deal with it is to lamb in shelter with someone in attendance, because the hoodies will come into a barn too. They are bold and determined birds.
Providing shelter is a problem in itself since hillfarming in the west of Scotland (and the north of England, etc.,) is just that, on the hills, and barns are few and far between. Under shelter means feeding them too, and that's another financial burden on an industry that's already feeling more than a pinch.
There is a lot of reporting and literature and academic work on the problem. I'm not going to link, but suggest that you simply google
Hoodie crows, lambs eyes
Yes there will be sensationalised mince out there, and claims about them only taking couped ewes and weak lambs, but there's also a lot of sound reporting on the problems caused by corvids on healthy animals among sheep flocks.
Closer to home I know someone who chased off a hoodie that was pecking ferociously at the back of her goats. It seemed to be going for the fat where the kidneys were, and left open wounds. The bird came back with another of it's kind. The goat owner finally got a neighbour with an air rifle to shoot them and let her goats heal.
A fortnight later there were three others getting too close, so as a pre-emptive strike they were shot too.
How that sits with the licences and 30 days trying other things I don't know, but it's their reality, their animals, their way of dealing with a problem.
I think that kind of thing must be repeated right across the country.
Pigeons are a pest round here, and we're suburban now. I can only imagine the damage a flock of them would cause in a seeded field. We call them flying rats. Pigeons can and will breed all year round so long as there is sufficient food. They're taking the seedcrop and their numbers are soaring.
Thirty days of them guzzling on a field while folks wait for a licence, and there'll be nothing left to grow.
There you go. First hand knowledge on the corvid/lamb issue. We don't have a lot of sheep around here so I've not come across it.
Yep, I know, I've heard the stories and been told of the evil ways since I toddled on the farm but I've never seen it and I've never seen video (which you'd expect in this day and age) of it happening - only of clearing up already dead lambs. I've not seen, despite searching hard, video of a fox taking a healthy living lamb either. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm just saying that of my well over 50 years in the field I've not witnessed it.
Incidentally, one of the studies of predator cause of lamb loss was carried out in Scotland.
What I have witnessed, first hand and more than once, was a sheepdog taking off with a newly born lamb!
In thirty seconds googling......
Yep, still no lamb kills. But the practice around here of leaving the ewes lamb in the fields miles away from the farms only encourages predation.
I was brought up for part of my childhood in North Africa and we would often witness corvids on the back of both domestic and wild animals - usually taking ticks (in fact some wild animals depend on it). Occasionally, on the domestic animals, there would be open sores and clearly the corvids would start to 'worry' the wound - on inspection the wounds had blowfly and maggot so it was never possible to work out what the initial cause was. I've seen plenty of sheep with blowfly in this country.
The truth is the countryside and farming is a long way off the perfect little world that the BBC Country File would have the public believe
Sorry Broch, that must have seemed snippy; I'm distracted, I can't get the Modding panel to do what I want in combining a couple of duplicate threads, and I literally took thirty seconds to google and link.
It's not the kill, it's the major injuries, the attacks on eyes and tongues, that's the biggest issue, that leads to deaths, and those are often just put down as 'sickly lambs' who become carrion.
That they were fine until the hoodies got to them is the bit that gets glossed over, yet shepherds and walkers, etc., see it happening, but unless they're close, and damned quick, they can't get there before the damage is done. One peck bursts an eyeball.
Leaving the ewes in the fields is normal, the alternative is to provide feed for the entire flock. That's a massive expense and logistical nightmare on a hillfarm here.
It's always a balance thing and a struggle to keep the farmed fields and animals free from predation. At it's most basic, either the rats, pigeons and crows eat, or we do.
Anyway, we'll see what happens with the changes in the licences. I think an awful lot of farmers are going to be well and truly vexed over it.
No need to apologise ; like I said, I'm not denying it happens, just not witnessed it. And, to be fair to the farmers around here, it's certainly not all of them that don't seem to have a care for the livestock.
As far as licenses go, in general everyone has enough time to apply for specific licenses - we know when we are going to need them. I know it seems a pain but we have to do it for disturbance of wildlife for study each year (for monitoring birds of prey nest sites for example). So, really, it's only this year that (theoretically) it is going to be a major headache. However, I doubt NE will have the necessary infrastructure to deal with the extra burden.
What is interesting though is that, presumably, in Scotland and Wales the general licences will still be used this year despite the fact that it has now been publicly stated that to do so would almost certainly be breaking the law!
Yeah, but the problem I usually see here, and I expect it occurs there with the BBC also, is that those two differing speakers and viewpoints are aired separately instead of together so viewers can get a balance comparison. In other words, even when both are presented on the same network they still create that media bubble you mentioned: farmers watch the farming viewpoint and city folk watch the tree hugger viewpoint.
I've hugged a few trees, and campaigned and protested against their unneccesary felling too, but I do take your point.
We live in a very urbanised society.
We has a hillfarm when I was young and we definately had a problem with crows pecking the eyes of lambs out, also sometimes the tongues.
It was a small farm and there were enough of us checking that the sheep were otherwise looked after but there wasn't much cover there.
Corvids are clever birds and learn from each other, just cos one area has corvids that dont do it doesn't mean other areas don't have the problem.
I'm still totally against the gamekeepers who have been killing raptors on the grouse moors on a fairly industrial scale and I've worked on some of those places so ai know damn fine well that its widespread, no matter how many gamekeepers come with the old "Nothing to see here, please move on" routine.
Oh and pidgeon racers are sometimes inclined to take falcons eggs so their pidgeons have a better chance of getting home, one bloke I worked with from Whitehaven did and he commented that a few other people he knew did also.
Odly enough we had foxes nearby and never had a problem with them taking lambs, they were more of an issue to poultry.
That was exactly the conclusion of the research that was carried out. It also showed that shooting foxes (or any other way of killing them) was of no benefit at all; another one moved in within days.
I know plenty of people will disagree with me but I think there is a huge difference between farmers (legally) keeping a pest species in check to protect their production of the UK's food supplies and gamekeepers killing relatively rare birds of prey so rich blokes can stand in line and blast driven birds out of the air for fun. Surely, in the 21st Century, we should be above chasing and killing for 'sporting pleasure' - there's nothing sporting about it. And to be clear, I do hunt, but whatever I shoot goes in the pot.
Maybe the discussion is getting too political and personal now so apologies; I'll get off my soapbox
Have you ever had problems with badgers taking lambs?
Someone i know who hunts and is about farms mentioned before how foxes get a blame for a lot, but he thinks badgers are more likely to take a lamb than a fox.
The problem we had with Badgers was the 'tree-huggers' that insisted on visiting the Sett every few days to ensure that we were not 'digging them up'. They showed no respect for the fences and broke them down every time they visited allowing livestock to escape.
We enjoyed watching the Badgers coming out, it was a huge Sett (24 holes) and we'd sit behind a couple of big trees with a red-light (they cannot see red) and watch them feeding and playing.
I wouldn't shoot the Badgers - but I'd not be worried about shooting the local Badger Protection Group.
I've known badgers kill full grown ewes never mind lambs!
Fox's certainly do take lambs. But we've never known corvids to attack healthy lambs here....we don't have hooded crows or ravens though
Shooting a lamb killing fox is of no benefit at all because another will move in within days is an utterly ridiculous statement.
So you shoot it on night one and save three lambs. It takes say two nights for another to move in....thats nine lambs saved
And who's to say the new fox will immediately start killing lambs?
Maybe the weather was bad and you lamb indoors so was able to keep the smallest and youngest lambs in for a few days and not give the new fox chance to get started on lamb killing because they are stronger at turn out, while the original fox now having a fine taste for lamb could have become more persistent and gone after the strong lambs anyway
I'm a sheep farmer and fox shooter....i know these things to be true