Of all the ludicrous things I have seen in the last few weeks, the misrepresentation and vilification of lifelong conservationist and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham has to be among the most bizarre. His detractors and subsequently those who have swallowed their rhetoric have taken to portraying him as some sort of clueless, yogurt weaving hippy, rather than a person with lifelong experience and learning in ecology and conservation. Anyone with any basic knowledge of his career will be aware of how frequently he has clashed with animal lovers over some of his views which he refuses to base on emotion and instead on scientific research.
The way they are trying to present the story is that struggling farmers across the country are being forced to endure the decimation of their crops and now have to serve up their newborn lambs with a sprig of mint as a sacrifice to the insatiable evil crows who peck out their eyes.
I say crows, because despite the new changes naming 16 species of birds, it’s only crows that seem to be brought up in the argument and it is the species that two lunatics chose the leave hanging outside Packham’s home last week in retaliation for his involvement. It’s easy to pick on crows. They’ve long been portrayed as harbingers of doom and bad luck, as minions to something more evil. No one mentions the parakeets on the list. A non native species to this country, because you can guarantee that if someone had left Blu and Jewel dangling outside his house (who absolutely aren’t parakeets but what do facts matter), there’d be a lot more condemnation and probably a fucking candlelit vigil.
But here is the thing, farmers and gamekeepers have not been banned from animal control. What the fuss is about is that general licences have been revoked to curb illegal and unnecessary killing of raptors and other birds and there has been a change to the way licences are issued following a legal challenge by Wild Justice. The group never asked for outright abolition and understand that farmers will need some allowances in order to protect animals and crops.
What those opposed to this are throwing a hissy fit over, is that they’ve been told they haven’t got a free reign to do what the fuck they want anymore and if they have a genuine need to kill any of the listed species they can apply for an individual licence from Natural England, who haven’t handled the organisation of the new legislation particularly well. But the changes themselves are right, even if it’s execution hasn’t been what it should. People can’t just go around killing animals because they don’t like them. Chris Packham became involved, not to spite farmers, but after encountering a man who was shooting crows and magpies for fun, stating they were “vermin”. However, the man didn’t even own a farm or business that could be threatened by the birds.
“Oh but they eat other fluffy baby birds, they kill lambs, they’re so vicious”. The tendency of commenters making crows out to be the Peaky Blinders is utterly bizarre. You’d think they were strutting around forcing protection racket money off the farmers before snorting cocaine from the back of a terrified piglet. There is no nice way of killing animals for food, whether you are a crow or a human, no matter what you tell yourself about our methods being better. Look, the only species that is causing a massive threat to other little animals that you find cuter or more edible is us. Either we are slaughtering them directly for no purpose whatsoever, or we are destroying their habitat and introducing non native species which disrupt the eco system.
Do I support a cull on humans in order to save the rest of the world? No, because I’m not an absolute sociopath who believes that death is the only solution to our problems. That’s what the campaigners are asking for. There are other ways to control animal populations and culling can sometimes make the problem worse, like pigeons who control their own numbers according to the food source. Culling them will cause them to breed more, and will only provide a very short term solution.
The badger cull has also been proven to be scientifically ineffective with no effect on the prevalence of tuberculosis in cattle, yet those who advocate it are still hell bent on their “right” to kill them, even though it will provide no benefit other than to continue their delusion that their problems are down to another species rather than them and stop them looking for better, smarter methods. We are learning all the time that some modern farming methods are no good for us or the health of the land and we need to adapt in order to survive. Chris Packham has been involved with such initiatives before, working with farmers and not against them as they play a vital role for our environment. Many farmers are struggling, and not being given a fair price for their produce and I absolutely think that more support needs to be given to them, as well as us playing our part and rethinking the way we consume. This shouldn’t be about a battle between conservationists and farmers. Let’s face it, farmers supply most of us with the food we can’t be arsed or aren’t capable of producing ourselves and they deserve the care that they give to us.
But there are factions in those ranks that claim to speak for the whole of the countryside who will puff their chests when told they can’t behave in the same mindless way they always have always been allowed to, and the changes won’t make a blind bit of difference to them because they believe they are above the law, the same they have done with fox hunting.
That is why two crows were killed and left outside a conservationists home last week, and if your response to that begins with “yes but well, there’s two sides to the shooting licence debate and look at this picture of this poor lamb with no eyes….” then you have entirely missed the point and are inadvertently condoning shitty human behaviour. Because those birds were not killed because of land management or pest control. They were killed out of pure spite. They were killed to bully, to intimidate, and for fun and that isn’t something we should be saying that the countryside represents.
And to finish on a song as usual, here’s Fuck The Countryside Alliance by Future Of The Left.