Saturday, 21 May 2022

The Red Paper 2022


When the Doggerland bridge flooded the British Isles became separated from
Continental Europe and its wildlife developed uniquely. The British Isles, for the purpose of this work includes Ireland, and isolated the wolves on both became what would be island species not affected by the usual island dwarfism. These wolves, after millennia. Became “unwanted” and forests and woodland was burnt down or cut down for the specific purpose of lupicide; the killing of every and any wolf –and there was a bounty for “a job well done”.
At the same time there also developed three unique island species of Old fox from the coyote-like Mountain or Greyhound fox, the slightly smaller but robustly built Mastiff or Bulldog fox and the smaller Common or Cur fox –the latter like today’s red foxes had a symbiotic relationship with humans. These canids were mainly ignored until it was decided that they could provide fur and meat and those things earn money. From that point onward, especially after all other game had been killed off, the fox faced what writers over the centuries referred to as vulpicide –extermination through bounties paid, trapping or hunting and despite all the hunters noting that the Old foxes were nearing extinction they continued to hunt until by the late 1880s the Old were gone and replaced by the New –foxes imported by the thousands every year for the ‘sport’ of fox hunting and this importation also led the the UK seeing the appearance of mange (unknown before the importations).
The travelling British sportsmen went coyote, wolf and jackal hunting and on returning to England wanted to bring a taste of this to “the good old country”. Wolves, jackals and coyotes were set up in hunting territories from where they could learn the lay of the land and provide good sport later. Some hunts even
attempted to cross-breed foxes, jackals and Coyotes.
Then there were the legendary –almost mythical– “beasts”; the black beast of Edale, the killer canids of Cavan and the “girt dog” of Ennerdale.
In more recent times raccoon dogs and arctic foxes have appeared in the UK; some released for ‘sport’ while others are exotic escapees long since established in the countryside.
If you thought you knew what fox hunting was about prepare to be woken up by a sharp slap to the face and the reality that, by admissions of hunts themselves, this was all about fun and sport and nothing to do with “pest control”.
Fully referenced and containing maps and previously unseen photographs whether a layman interested in wildlife, a naturalist or zoologist this book is one you must read. This book re-writes British natural history and shows why, for Old British fox types...
Extinction is Forever

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Two More Dead Foxes 'Lost'


The above photograph of two more dead foxes in Bristol was sent to me this morning.

It is very suspicious that two foxes are found dead together -you can get that in car strikes on roads but on a park pathway?

This is what we would categorise as "very suspicious" and definitely two that we would submit for post mortem examination. However, we will be losing these two as we have lost others in the past year.

During a normal week Zoe can pick up and take the foxes in next day but foxes tend to turn up dead on Fridays and bank holidays which means the two just found could not be submitted until Tuesday morning. By that time they would be beyond useful with decomposition, etc.

The problem is that this is work not financed by a grant and every penny has to come out of our depleted pockets so a freezer to store carcasses is not something we can afford. In the last year I have asked on the three main Bristol naturalist groups as well as the smaller local ones whether anyone has an old working freezer they could donate or even if they have a freezer we can use for temporary storage (there are a number of taxidermists on groups who have their own freezers). Not a single response.

Everyone seems "interested" in the PM results but it seems that foxes are not something they can be that bothered about (similar with the badger deaths I look into).

Each find like this could help us pin-point poisoning of foxes (and secondary animals) or even illegal snaring which is going on. Disease seems unlikely as two foxes being ill and dropping dead on the same spot are odds of thousands to one.

This is why we ask for donations to the work -not to live a good life but carry out important work. Well, important if you care or have any interest in foxes and to date it seems that very few have.

"Just dead foxes"

Zoe Webber managed to get out and check the foxes over. The two foxes had been moved by the time Zoe got there but she examined both and there were injuries suggesytive of RTA. The foxes were by no means fresh but it seems someone must have moved them from a nearby (20mph) road. Council have been informed for removal purposes. Fox deaths will be logged and added to our map of fox deaths in Bristol -many go unreported but we do what we can.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

We Killed Wildcats. Let's Import More!

 "We made them extinct -let's import new ones!"

When it comes to fox hunting and vulpicide as a national past time at one point it is no wonder the British Old type foxes went extinct. And so the hunts imported thousands every year to replace the Old. That,  Deer were hunted to the point where they became extinct or so rare that...hunts had to import more from Europe. Now, hares were hunted to the same point of extinction that...more were brought in from Europe.

This old article is worth noting because it shows the same approach with Scottish wildcats. Well, the fact is this: if you have to import European wildcats to keep the Scottish ones from going extinct then you no longer have a native species but an introduced species.

Since at least the 17th century it has been noted that the wildvcats of then England, Wales (which hung on until at least the 1930s) and Scotland were only surviving due to feral domestic cats. The actual real Scottish wildcat probably does not exist even in DNA because the wildcat they are trying to "preserve" today is not the original wildcat.

By killing through shooting, snaring and, oh yes we know what goes on, poisoning feral domestic cats they are preventing natural selection and evolution. I do not believe we have any "true bloods" or "pure" Scottish wildcats and the only reason that those involved do not understand why is because they are taught and accept dogma and do not study the classical natural history books and they will probably tell you that they know better than "the old fellas who never had science" behind them. True but those naturalists (and damn them for it) were all 'sportsmen' who went out killing things and noted how they were disappearing but continued anyway. 

The only way of maintaining atrue wildcat species is the step back and let natural selection do what it has been doing for hundreds of years; determine what breeds with what and establishes itself as the wildcat. NOT what some humans at a university or sat behind a cushy desk decide is allowed and not allowed.

As with so many species humans drove them to the edge of and then over the brink into extinction.  Now humans want to start saving species so that they can be killed off again and there are too many examples and private estates and gamekeepers will continue to kill the wildcat until someone gets off of their fat ass and decides to actually enforce protection and prosecute with no "Is it? Can't be sures" but "It looks like a wildcat therefore it is a wildcat" and prosecute and prosecute until people understand.

Scotland considers continental wildcats to save native species from extinction

This article is more than 3 years old

Releasing ‘pure’ animals could counter interbreeding with domestic cats, experts say

Scottish wildcat
Interbreeding means Scottish wildcats are close to becoming functionally extinct. Photograph: Barrie Harwood / Alamy/Alamy

Conservationists could release wildcats captured from other European countries in the Scottish Highlands in a final effort to protect Scotland’s population from extinction.

Recent genetic testing by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland of 276 Scottish wildcat samples found those in the wild are so heavily interbred with domestic cats that they are close to becoming functionally extinct.

Leading ecologists have said the trend could be reversed by capturing pure-bred wildcats on the continent and releasing them in isolated and unspoilt parts of the Highlands, hoping they can replenish the Scottish population with pure wildcat DNA.

The proposal was discussed in September at a meeting of conservation agencies and wildlife experts involved in Scottish Wildcat Action, the government-funded umbrella organisation charged with protecting the species.

Sir John Lister-Kaye, a naturalist involved in the SWA, said the core proposal being developed was to set up a new captive breeding and release programme using wild caught animals and captive Scottish wildcats, which are generally purer genetically.

SWA is drafting proposals to house them in a new wildcat breeding centre in the Highlands, probably based at the Highland wildlife park near Aviemore, a safari park which includes a captive wildcat enclosure owned by the RZSS.

Scottish wildcat
Scottish wildcats were split off from the continental population about 9,000 years ago,after the last ice age. Photograph: Peter Cairns/Northshots

The park is already home to the UK’s only breeding polar bear, a Siberian tiger enclosure and a Eurasian wolf enclosure. There are 94 captive wildcats held in various zoos and private collections around the UK.

“Everyone agreed that captive breeding was the way forward,” Lister-Kaye said. “If there are insufficient high quality wildcats the SWA would introduce pure wildcats from other parts of Europe, and that is now seen to be the way forward to save the species.”

The scheme would require approval, funding and licensing by Scottish Natural Heritage, the government agency charged with protecting native wildlife, and Scottish ministers.

A similar translocation strategy was used in 2009 in a government-funded project by the RZSS and Scottish Wildlife Trust to release beavers in Argyll in south-west Scotland, using animals trapped in Norway. Eventually captive animals from elsewhere in Scotland were added, because some of the Norwegian beavers were unable to adapt or died in quarantine.

The RZSS genetic study, which was published last week in the Journal of Evolutionary Applications, tested samples from 276 live wild and captive wildcats, and samples from dead specimens including roadkill, and compared them with 19 domestic cat samples.

Dr Helen Senn, who led the study, said the bulk of the wildcats shared the same gene pool as their domestic counterparts: “Having tested almost 300 wild-living and captive wildcats, we now have genetic data which confirms our belief that the vast majority of Scottish wildcats living in the wild are hybrids to one extent or another.”

Lister-Kaye said the RZSS research confirmed a long-standing belief that domestic cat genes were dominant in non-captive Scottish wildcats across the country, a trend being reinforced by continued interbreeding. The point was now being reached where wildcats, which are naturally shy and elusive, would disappear from the Highlands.

Wildcats are found in areas of France, Spain, the Balkans, the Caucasian steppes, the Indian subcontinent and Africa, but they are so rare the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed them on the red list of endangered species.

The Scottish population, which was split off from the continental population about 9,000 years ago, after the last ice age, is in crisis. The IUCN says its status is bad and declining. Dr Roo Campbell, SWA’s priority areas manager, said only 100 to 300 survive in the wild in Scotland and were reduced to living in shrinking pockets of the Highlands.

Campbell said the SWA was waiting for the results of a special review by the IUCN of Scotland’s situation before finally deciding on a rescue strategy. “The very high levels of hybridisation reported in [Senn’s] paper is a very specific and challenging situation we are facing in Scotland,” he said.

Lister-Kaye said the wildcats’ natural habitats had shrunk dramatically because farming and commercial forestry plantations had severely reduced their range, cutting off their food supplies. That drives them closer to farms and villages, where they are more likely to crossbreed with domestic and feral cats.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “I don’t actually think it’s terribly complicated. It takes money and time. Where I think we’ve got a real problem is in reinstating habitat. Where it exists it is very, very patchy.”

The Red Paper 2022

  When the Doggerland bridge flooded the British Isles became separated from Continental Europe and its wildlife developed uniquely. The Bri...