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The Fur Feather & Fin Guide To Birds & Wildlife

British Deer Society Urges Motorists To Be Vigilant This Autumn

With night falling earlier, The British Deer Society is asking motorists to drive with extra care through areas where deer are known to roam - especially now the rut is underway. The highest risk of deer on the road is from sunset to midnight and shortly before and after sunrise, as they move down to lower lying ground for forage and shelter. The British Deer Society's chairman Mark Nicolson commented: 'Autumn is the time of year when vehicle and deer collisions peak - so for the next couple of months with shorter day length and often poor visibility, motorists need to be especially alert and cut their speed particularly in countryside areas where woodlands adjoin the highway. Remember - deer are wild animals and don't follow the Highway Code!' The Scottish Natural Heritage have the following driving tips: " Try not to suddenly swerve to avoid hitting a deer. A collision into oncoming traffic could be even worse. " Only break sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following or oncoming traffic. Try to come to a stop as far away from the animals as possible to allow them to leave the roadside without panic, and use your hazard warning lights. " Be aware that more deer may cross after the one or two you first see, as deer often travel in groups. " After dark, use full-beams when there is no oncoming traffic, as this will illuminate the eyes of deer on or near a roadway and give you more time to react. But dim your headlights when you see a deer or other animal on the road so you don't startle it. " Report any deer-vehicle collisions to the police, who will contact the local person who can best help with an injured deer at the roadside. Do not approach an injured deer yourself as it may be dangerous  

Badger Cull to commence in June 2013... right or wrong?

Every year, over 25,000 cattle are taken to slaughter to be disposed of as a result of Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). Previous Bovine TB control methods have cost the UK Taxpayer B#500 Million per year, which is estimated to rise to over B#1 Billion per year if nothing changes. There has been a huge outcry and fight against the cull by animal rights organisations such as the RSPCA and Save the Badger, who argue that evidence for Badger's spreading the disease is inconclusive and that Badgers are not common enough to have a significant impact on the spread of the disease. Farmers Associations and Government Bodies have won the argument for a cull in light of solid evidence, as it has now been proven in a pilot cull scheme organised by the government that the reduction of Badgers in an area significantly reduces the incidences of Bovine TB in farm animals such as badgers, camelids (llamas and alpacas), goats, pigs, deer, dogs and cats. Having glanced through the government literature, and researched badgers, it would seem the cull is aimed at areas of the country (particularly the West and South West) where badger populations are disproportionately high and are known to be carriers of Bovine TB. Being a great lover of Badger's I personally am torn - the evidence in favour of the cull is pretty concrete, and as a keen shooter & hunter I understand the need for controlling animals in a heavily populated country where pressure on farmers is very high; however I would also like to know what research has been carried out on other animals and their impact on the spread of TB - if Badgers are to be subject to a mass cull then do deer and foxes not also need to be investigated to the same degree? What is your view on the Badger cull? Please let us know your comments via our facebook page or in the comments section below. Useful links:

Are Boar a bore?

100kg, razor sharp tusks, nocturnal, 1m high covered with bristly hair... it sounds like something out of a horror movie, but in reality Wild Boar were once a native species that formed a key part in the evolution and sustainability of our ancient woodland. Having been hunted to extinction since in the 13th century, thanks to a number of escapes from commercial farms in recent years Wild Boar are now making a comeback in the UK... the question is should they be allowed to stay? Boar are not really present in most parts of the UK (though there have been "sightings" almost everywhere!). There are estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 wild boars living in England, which is made up of small populations living in Kent, Sussex, Hertfordshire, Devon, and Dorset. There are also a few wild boar populations in Scotland and Wales. It has been argued that their habits promote healthy woodland as they will root up and consume bracken and toxic fern, which makes the way for other plant and flower species to thrive. However critics of this view argue that the damage they cause to farmland, and the potential threat they pose to humans and other animals (they will kill and eat young sheep and deer) far outweighs any ecological benefit they might offer. Wild Boar are a landowners worst nightmare when they are present in large numbers - a typical group of boar (called a sounder) consisting of about 20 animals (females and immature males) can devastate acres of ground in a single night. It literally looks as though someone has ploughed the earth! By nature Boar are actually quite shy and illusive, however If cornered or surprised Boar can be very dangerous - Mature males will charge whilst using their tusks to gore and slash, and females will also charge using their impressive teeth to bite. Back in the days of hunting with bow & arrow many a hunter was killed whilst unintentionally disturbing Boar, and this probably lead to the prejudice that resulted in their extinction - this was before the days of guns so they were hunted down by mounted men with spears who used large packs of hunting dogs to bring the Boar to ground. Should Wild Boar be allowed to stay now that they appear to be forming stable populations? Let us know your thoughts! Sources:

  • https://www.britishwildboar.org.uk/index.htm?agriculture.html
  • https://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/regulation/wildlife/species/wildboar.aspx
  • https://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/INFD-7RKGZ9
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_boar

Animal Fact File: Exmoor Pony

Name: Exmoor Pony

Scientific Name: Equus ferus caballus

Description: Exmoor ponies are a small breed of pony reaching up to 12.3hh (130cm). They are stocky with a thick neck and short legs, small ears and a unique ‘toad eye’. This is caused by extra fleshiness around the eyelids, which is beneficial to the pony, protecting them from water and providing additional insulation. The ponies are known to be hardy, with their ability to survive the harsh Exmoor winters.

a brown exmoor pony standing on the moor

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The Fur Feather and Fin Guide To Fruit Picking

Take a step back in time, and we are all foragers. Before homo sapiens developed farming, all of their food was hunted or foraged, just like other animals. Fast forward twenty thousand years or so, and we no longer have to forage for survival; however, the wild delicacies on which we used to feast are still out there. While gaining popularity in recent years, there is always an abundance of free natural goodness out there. Whether you’ve never laid eyes on a wild gooseberry, or are an accomplished seeker, we’ve put together our very own guide to fruit picking. You can enjoy your foraged fruits fresh as you find them, bake them into a delicious country recipe or use them to make your own cordial, gin or vodka infusions.wild strawberries and flowers on a table

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Animal Fact File: Woodpecker

Name: Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Picidae

Description: Found throughout the UK in forests and woodlands, they are small with bold pattern, a round head, chisel-like bill and a stiff tail.

Species: Woodpeckers are part of the family Picidae, closely related birds from this family include wrynecks and sapsuckers. There are three species found in the UK, great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), green woodpecker (Picus viridis) and lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor).

Woodpecker bird black white and red perched on a tree

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Guide to British Wildlife: Bats - Part 2

In our newest guide to native British wildlife, we are looking at more of the country’s resident bats, the only flying mammal in the world. There are 17 species of bat which are known to breed in Britain, counting for almost a quarter of the country’s native mammals. There are over 1,300 species of bat found across the world, with more being discovered nearly every year. Be sure to read part one of our guide to bats.

Common pipistrelle in flight

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