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Turtle doves ‘nearing UK extinction because of farming practices’

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Turtle doves are on the brink of extinction in the UK because of farming practices, it has been claimed.

Numbers have plummeted by 70 per cent in five years, leading the RSPB to call for an urgent “overhaul” of the current agricultural system as the UK leaves the EU and its system of subsidies, to support wildlife and farming.

Latest statistics from the Environment Department (Defra) revealed that birds living and breeding on the UK’s farmland saw numbers tumble by almost a tenth between 2010 and 2015.

Their populations have declined by 56 per cent since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows.

Corn buntings, grey partridge and tree sparrows are among the species which have suffered “severe” declines of more than 90 per cent since 1970.

Capercaillie and willow tit have also seen a similarly concerning reduction in numbers over the same period.

Numbers of grey partridge have also declined
Numbers of grey partridge have also declined CREDIT: GAME & WILDLIFE CONSERVATION TRUST/PA

But while the majority of the decline happened in between the late 1970s and 1980s as farming practices changed rapidly, there was a nine per cent decline between 2010 and 2015.

The data showed some “specialist” species, those restricted to or highly dependent on farmland habitats, had seen precipitous falls.

But the fall was most dramatic for turtle doves, a traditional symbol of love and fidelity, with numbers down 71 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

The decline in UK numbers of the birds, which migrate from wintering grounds in Africa to breed in Europe, is mirrored across the continent and conservationists have warned the turtle dove is at risk of going extinct globally.

The sharp drop in numbers is thought to be down to a lack of seeds from arable plants which has shortened their breeding season and led to fewer nesting attempts.

The RSPB’s head of land use policy, Jenna Hegarty, said: “Birdsong from some of our most iconic species once filled the air, but for many years the soundtrack of our countryside – from the song of the skylark to the purr of the turtle dove – has become quieter and quieter.

The endangered tree sparrow
The endangered tree sparrow CREDIT:  DAVID BURGES

“Today’s figures show the number of farmland birds continues to drop. The farmland bird indicator has fallen by nine per cent in the last five years – the worst period of decline since the late 1980s.

“Many farmers are doing great things, and without their efforts, today’s figures would undoubtedly be worse.

“But the current agriculture system doesn’t work for our farmers or our natural environment, something needs to change.

“Leaving the EU gives us a seminal opportunity to overhaul the system, and use public money to build a more sustainable future, reversing the dramatic declines in farmland wildlife and supporting resilient and thriving farm businesses into the future.”

Elsewhere in the countryside, woodland birds have seen numbers remain relatively stable over the last five years, although they are down almost a quarter since 1970.

Across all species, including farmland, woodland, wetland and waterbirds and seabirds, numbers are down around eight per cent on 1970, the figures show.

Some species, such as stock doves and goldfinches, saw populations double.

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Compassion in World Farming

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment
Compassion recently sent investigators into Italian farms, and uncovered suffering behind Parmigiano Reggiano, also known as Parmesan, and its sister product Grana Padano cheese. Both cheeses are found in supermarkets all around the world.
Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano are only produced in a specific area of Italy, by groups of producers and traders who work together and follow the same standards. These cheeses are renowned for their quality and are a main ingredient of Italian pasta and risotto dishes.
We have discovered that most dairy cows producing milk for Grana Padano and Parmesan are denied the ability to graze outdoors.

 

Our investigators found cows with leg injuries and severe lameness. Some animals even appeared emaciated. The sheds were poorly designed, with cubicles that were too small. Slippery alleys covered in water, faeces and urine meant that cows could struggle to easily reach feeding and resting places.
Compassion visited a number of farms supplying milk for Parmesan and Grana Padano, and found barren, zero-grazing systems with cows permanently confined indoors, unable to properly express their natural behaviours.

 

Take action for the Parmesan cows
It is not acceptable that the representatives of “high quality”, “traditional” products such as Parmesan and Grana Padano can turn a blind eye to the pain that is being caused to their dairy cows.
Together we can make a difference to the lives of these sensitive, wonderful animals.

 

Statement on Clause 30 vote

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

As you will no doubt know on 15th November MPs voted to reject an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
This proposal by Caroline Lucas was to request that Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which refers to animal sentience, be transferred into UK law in anticipation of leaving the EU.

We made a decision not to call for action on hearing of the amendment’s rejection. While we believe that the sentience of animals should and must be recognised in law, we do not feel that the outcome of the vote in question was a legal denial that animals are conscious and can experience pain and suffering as has been suggested by some.
As we have been contacted by supporters rightly alarmed at developments we are making this clarification.
We were, and continue to be, further concerned that if the intention of the amendment was to transfer Article 13 wholesale then the caveats contained, which allow parties and industry to disregard animal sentience, would also be transferred.
This though is a great opportunity for politicians who have publicly condemned any implication that animals are not sentient to now commit to bringing forward legislation not only recognising the sentience of non-humans but also the rights of non-humans.
In addition we would appeal to them to ensure that this legislation does not allow any consideration other than the rights and welfare of animals when drafting relevant regulation.
We would recommend you contact your MPs and MSPs to request that they act urgently. If you would like suggestions for content please let us know.
Scotland for Animals

Message from PETA

October 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Last week, some PETA members and representatives of two local animal rights groups who themselves came under attack asked us to help them respond to ads taken out against PETA.
The ads were created by a man who sits at a computer in his house and solicits funds, the overwhelming majority of which go to support him personally. He makes his living from spewing hate speech, launching vicious personal attacks, and using untruths and distortions to rile people up, all in the name of “no kill,” while he himself does not rescue, shelter, or care for any animals anywhere! He also falsely and most damagingly claims that animal overpopulation is a “myth” and “the lie at the heart of the killing.” His modus operandi is to demonize animal shelters and blame euthanasia on the employees who perform it.

PETA usually ignores such things, because vicious people are a fact of life—but because some people have asked us how to stop this trolling, I thought it would be helpful to address how we can come together instead. Obviously, none of us ever wants any healthy or adoptable animal’s life to end prematurely, but some suggestions concerning how to achieve that goal spell disaster for animals. This “no-kill” (also called “turn-away sheltering”) business is actually causing an increasing number of slow and terrible deaths—something it absolutely does not have to do—and it’s also causing more breeding. It is encouraging hoarders to stash dozens—if not sometimes hundreds—of dogs and cats in cages for life (over 100 cats burned to death in their cages when one home caught fire), closing shelter doors to animals who need help the most, and imposing shelter admission fees on people who, not willing or able to pay them, dump their dogs and cats on the street or in the woods, bludgeon them to death, or even bake them alive or run them over. And abandoned animals keep right on breeding! Obviously, this is causing tremendous suffering to animals with nowhere else to go.

Who doesn’t want a quick fix to a huge problem, like a pill that will allow you to live forever while eating anything you want? Similarly, the way to achieve our goal is not simply to hope that just demanding “no kill” will make the big problems facing animals somehow magically disappear. They won’t, unless we put our efforts into doing useful things—some of which you’ll see in this brief, compelling video—like cutting off the incoming supply of homeless animals at the source. I hope you’ll share this video with everyone you know, perhaps on your social media pages.

Canada and Whaling 

October 26, 2017 Leave a comment

There are fewer than 500 North Atlantic right whales left. We lost another ten this summer in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Some of the whales suffered blunt trauma from collisions of boats. Others got caught up in crab fishing nets.
We need the Canadian government to step in and stop these preventable deaths.

Right whales’ habitat is close to the shore, which made them a prime target during the peak of the whaling era. They were hunted nearly to extinction, and even though they’ve been protected for decades, there’s been little recovery. Today, the only whales left live along the Canadian and New England coast.

As the stewards of the last whales, Canadian officials have a duty to all of us to do everything they can to save the right whales we have left. This summer, they were alarmed enough to close a crab fishery off New Brunswick early, and after news broke of the 10th whale death, the federal Fisheries and Ocean Minister promised he’d implement new rules around commercial fishing gear before next year.

These are important and encouraging steps. But this summer’s death toll — three times higher than normal — illustrates just how quickly we could lose the entire species. We need to keep up the pressure on the Fisheries and Ocean Minister to ensure he enacts the strongest and most comprehensive rules with a goal of no preventable deaths in 2018.

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

An unlicensed “veterinarian” has been performing crude surgeries to de-bark dogs on the streets of Chengdu, China. In a now-viral video, the man stretches the dogs’ jaws open with string, and uses bloodied pliers and a scalpel to slice through their vocal cords.

The tools are not sterilized between dogs, and the ground is littered with bloody cotton wads and hypodermic needles, used to administer a shot that knocks the dogs out cold before their cords are cut.

The procedure — performed in the open air at a flower and bird market — is not only unhygienic for humans and animals, but can cause blood loss and problems breathing and swallowing for the dogs. Still, dog owners have been lining up to pay 50 to 100 yuan (about 7 to 15 USD) to mute “bothersome” barking.

Since the video went viral, local officials have opened an investigation and ordered the man away from the market. Sign the petition to urge officials to file charges, and to stop this man and anyone else from performing cruel procedures like this again.

September 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The Verbist slaughterhouse in Izegem, Belgium was shut down by animal welfare minster Ben Weyts on Tuesday after video footage was released showing brutal abuse against cattle. The video was captured by the animal welfare group Animal Rights, who operate in both the Netherlands and Belgium.

The footage reveals haunting violations, including cattle being suspended and having their throats cut while conscious, being slaughtered in front of other, live cattle, causing panic and fear amongst them, and improper and illegal stunning methods. The slaughterhouse also failed to meet infrastructure standards.