I think it’s fairly safe to assume that if you’re a vegan or are reading this blog then you probably have some interest in the rights of animals. The UK is currently putting the final touches to a proposed plan of a mass culling of avian predators. This is an attempt to rectify the issues with dwindling songbird numbers around the UK.
However, the plans are currently sketchy. With the proposals targetting magpies and crows first, the number of songbirds will be reevaluated after a few months of the action being in place. If it is found that songbird numbers are increasing again, then the cull will be expanded to target all avian predators, including kestrels, sparrowhawks and buzzards.
The method of culling the birds will be this: “The predators will be trapped using a cage that contains a live bird. Other magpies and crows will flock to the cage to see off the rival, only to become stuck inside. They will then be humanely destroyed.” (as read here) I question what ‘humanely destroyed’ entails for a start. Caging rival birds together does not exactly seem entirely humane either, and how long are the birds to remain caged before they are ‘destroyed’? Hours? Days? Longer still?
Perhaps the most dubious part of this operation is that no one is even clear if avian predators are having a damaging effect on songbird numbers. There is far more substantial evidence to show that it is actually due to changes in farming practices and habitat alterations (such as the destruction of hedgerows) which is killing off songbird numbers. Yet in what is essentially a trial run of a program that may not have any effect, thousands upon thousands of birds will be killed.
This cull has had significant opposition from various wildlife charities already. An RSPB spokesperson has said “The fall (in songbird numbers) is driven by changes in the countryside. Principally, a lack of nesting areas, a lack of food for chicks and a lack of food in winter.”
Meanwhile the head of the Wildlife Aid Foundation, Simon Cowell (not the Simon Cowell you’re probably thinking of though) has stated that “Killing predators in order to preserve songbirds is utterly illogical. It is man’s interference that has unbalanced the various bird populations to start with, and further interference will do much more harm than good. There is also a bigger animal welfare issue here as culling adult birds means leaving potentially tens of thousands of baby birds orphaned and in many cases unable to fend for themselves.”
Brian May’s organisation, Save Me (who we highly recommend you check out), has also shown opposition. Brian has said “Let’s help Simon Cowell fight this awful new barbarity. When will the human race learn to stop interfering?”
There is still time to fight this cull, even just by spreading the word. Simon Cowell wrote “We are calling on everyone who cares about Britain’s wild animals and birds to protest to Defra and the GWCT and to plead with them not to go ahead with this cruel and pointless cull. We must do our utmost to protect all wild bird species, not just the songbirds.”
For more information please click here to view the Wildlife Aid Foundation’s Press Release on the issue.
Otherwise please take five minutes out of your day to contact DEFRA and let them know what you think about the cull. You can contact them at email@example.com.