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An RSPB manual advising wardens to place food treats around super high voltage electric fences to trick wildlife into touching them is staggeringly inhuman, says Ian Botham.
Hitting out at the charity in his article in The Telegraph, Botham explains how the manual - which was swiftly removed from the RSPB website after his allegations were published - describes how wardens "can deal with hedgehogs, otters, badgers, foxes – and even cats. It explains how to use irresistibly tasty 'bait' to lure wild animals to lick live wires. For badgers, the manual says staff should soak the cotton wool in 'honey, syrup, peanut butter or treacle'. For foxes it describes using 'dripping … from the Sunday roast or wrapping strips of bacon around the wires … at the height of a fox’s nose.'"
He goes on to explain that the RSPB's manual advised using an electric fence with a voltage high enough to create a large spark or to burn off grass; so, not the kind of fencing generally used to keep horses or livestock from roaming. When you consider that the goal of the instructions is to get the animals licking the fence as they try to disentangle the treat from the wires, you begin to question the RSPB's self-appointed title of "Nature's Voice".
While advising on the use of these fences, the manual went on to explain that fences of this voltage can kill hedgehogs, because they tend to roll into balls rather than moving away, and has been proven to kill frogs; it also details the fact that deer tend to get themselves tangled in electric fencing. Not a happy thought.
Like us, by now you are surely starting to question what the fences are for in the first place. Ian Botham answers that particular conundrum in his Telegraph article: "Why does the RSPB put miles of [these fences] around its reserves at great expense to its members who unwittingly pay for this cruelty? It is to protect ground nesting birds. They only flourish when protected from animals which eat their eggs. Yet the RSPB’s electric fences are not just barbaric but clumsy. Its manual explains how chicks get separated from their parents by the fences and how adult birds fly into them."
So, in short, the RSPB is clumsily trying to replicate the effects of proper, selective predator control - as is seen on every shoot in the country - by erecting miles of high voltage fencing, tempting unwanted animals into touching it, and killing or injuring countless other non-target species in the process.
Quoting the eloquent Ian Botham once again, "If the RSPB decides that it wants to prioritise curlews over foxes then the kindest approach is to shoot the fox. Not let it starve to death by blocking it from its food. Yet the RSPB hates shooting foxes. It apparently has no qualms about electrocuting them."
To put the advised strength of the fencing into perspective, an electric dog training collar (for which there have been campaigns to ban use due to the "traumatising" effect it can have on the dog) usually produces around 5mJ of power - the fencing the RSPB is advising wild animals are shocked with is 2,000 times more powerful.
Ian Botham has now sent the RSPB's manual to George Eustice (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), asking him to make a statement. Ian's lawyers have also produced a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions outlining which laws may have been broken. We will update our readers on any developments as and when they arise.
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