7th August. Hare Brained Fools

Some months back I posted a series of images featuring Hare Coursing activities at Orgreave. After reporting this to the Police and following several arrests I opted to remove the images and all reference to the events, mainly for my own safety but also to avoid jeopardising the case. Rachel, the Wildlife Liaison Officer, put in a great deal of work, taking statements from me and from the landowner (Harworth Estates). These statements, along with my damning photographic evidence, were passed to the CPS. Everything went quiet for a while and following several arrests there has been no Hare Coursing action.

A couple of weeks back Rachel called to say that the CPS were uncomfortable with the Hare Coursing charge, but would support a charge of poaching. This was a bit of a kick in the teeth, as it would effectively free two of the accused, but at least a conviction for poaching would be enough to discourage any further coursing. A successful prosecution hinged on one further piece of evidence - that an independent witness could identify the animal being pursued, in the photographs, as a Hare. As the RSPCA had declined to get involved (apparently it's not their kind of thing) they suggested contacting the Sheffield Wildlife Trust. I wasn't concerned, a blind man walking backwards could see that the animal in the photos wasn't a Rabbit but a Hare. Wrong! Rachel called this morning with bad news. It would seem that the so-called expert witness identified the fleeing Lepus as a Rabbit. To take any doubt away from their ID they even threw in a "there are no Hares on that site" comment.
With one swift kick in the balls the whole case has now been thrown out. It was never going to be a major sentence, no custody and no doubt a nominal fine, but it would have sent a message out that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Incidentally the four accused confessed to hunting Hares which makes this even more sickening!

I can only assume that if that's a rabbit that the four dogs are actually Jack Russell Terriers

I can't describe how I'm feeling right now but the words angry, frustrated, disappointed and bewildered would go part of the way. I don't know who they spoke with at the Wildlife Trust but I do know that they are clearly incompetent when it comes to the identification of medium sized furry animals and making uneducated comment about a species distribution is frankly inexcusable.
Rachel should be applauded for her dogged determination, as should Harworth Estates for giving the time to give a statement. However the local Wildlife Trust need to get their act together and a close inspection of their 'experts' competence is much needed.  I could have used a few swear words but that would have been childish, I could withdraw my membership of the local wildlife trust but that would equally spite me as much as them. But what I will do is offer someone at SWT an early morning session on how to identify Hares from Rabbits! The urge to swear the very worst of swears is coming over me so I better end right.....

On a lighter note I photographed this delightful Badger in the garden yesterday.....




14 comments:

Andrew Kinghorn said...

Even the running style is nothing like that of a Rabbit from this photo!

I can imagine your frustration Mark!

northernloon said...

That's bloody stupid. Thanks for the badger pic haven't seen one for years

The Biggest Twitch said...

If you want an expert witness I know that is a Hare and am happy to stand up in court and say so!

Thanks for posting this it is staggering!!

Alan Davies
info@thebiggesttwitch.com

The Biggest Twitch said...

If you need an expert witness I know that is a hare and happy to stand up in court and say so!

Alan
info@thebiggesttwitch.com

Mark said...

Thanks Alan. Unfortunately the 'experts' comments have gone on record and as such it casts enough doubt on my capability to identify Hares and probably anything else for that matter - God only knows what those four White Storks over the house were?

Yorkslister said...

Mark please permit me to swear on your behalf..........fuckin tossers!

Alan Whitehead said...

Another example of weakness in the law. Full marks for trying!

franksidebottomsuncle said...

Very frustrating and very worrying too. Why on earth didnt they go to Sorby who DO keep a distribution database for mammals for our area? Do the SWT keep such records? I suspect not.Once again tho, the importance of recording ALL wildlife is pressed home. I dont suppose the person who mis-IDed the hare will stand up and say I got it wrong but to make a broad sweeping comment they dont occur there is shocking to say the least.Worth following up? I guess this will curtail the coursers activities for now, but it seems our wildlife,once again,has been let down by someone who will claim to have its best interests at heart Lets hope and pray they dont ever start recording birds!!!!

Ryan said...

Is there anyone we can complain to the SWT about this? Its a disgrace and they need to know that there incompetence has angered people!

Ryan said...

Is there anyone at SWT we can complain to? They need to know that their incompetence has angered people and to ensure this does not happen again!

Mark said...

There's been no response from SWT, despite me forwarding a link to the blog post via Twitter.

The Police were acting on advice from the RSPCA. I did suggest that in future they contact The Sorby Natural History Group!

Tim Allwood said...

Mark, if I were you, I'd find out the person responsible and go and tell them your thoughts and thank them for wasting time, police and taxpayers' money and not doing their job remotely competently, by being such an utter useless fucknutted cuntard. They do need telling. I can feel an email coming on...

What a fucking shambles.

chin up
Tim

Mark said...

Following an email from Pete the SWT have responded as follows:


Hello
Thank you for your email about the Hare coursing at Waverley. It is correct that our Ecologists were shown the photograph by the Police but unfortunately, the photographs did not clearly convince them that the animal was a hare. As much as we detest illegal blood sports we could not lie and make a legal testimony that the photographs were definitely of hares if it was not 100% clear that they were.

The comment about Hares not been present in the area has also been mis-reported. Our Ecologists stated that they had no records from the area and not that they didn’t occur there.

The Wildlife Trust strongly supports any opposition to illegal blood sports and the same ecologists recently gave evidence against badger baiting in Rotherham which was used as evidence in court to secure a conviction.

I too, am very disappointed that the case was dropped and I can assure you that if photographic evidence could be shown that clearly shows that hares are being persecuted we would be happy to testify this.

Personally, I did not see the photographs and would quite like to see them, if you could email them to me.

Regards
Ben


With the exception of one photo (which featured an individual who was not subsequently charged) the shots that I provided to the Police all clearly showed a Hare being pursued!! In fairness the 'no records of hares there' comment may have been taken out of context, but it clearly gave the officer, taking the statement, the impression that Hares are not present at this site!

Penny Bun said...

Sorry about this unsatisfactory outcome, Mark. Baffled by the SWT response - so clearly a hare. Perhaps next time (!) you should report the hare sighting, THEN notify the police of the coursing in orde to ensure there are records of hares on the site. Perhaps the "poachers" should be interrogated to check they can ID a hare. If so, perhaps The police could could use them as expert witnesses ;-)