Friday, 14 August 2015

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Ahead of the Glorious 12th

At this time of year we are contacted by journalists for our comments on the conservation value of grouse moors - have you considered writing to a newspaper to make your views clear?

You may have seen in the weekend editions that much discussion has been taking place regarding the future of driven grouse shooting upon the eve of this year’s Glorious 12th.

Whilst some individuals are calling for an outright ban and others (including the Observer newspaper) are calling for the licensing of grouse moors, there are some journalists who are taking a more measured approach, urging compromise and a sensible, collaborative approach when it comes to the crux of the issue – the future of the hen harrier.

The GWCT has previously published its view here and here showing the conservation benefits of driven grouse shooting.

Local and national newspapers are used to receiving letters sent in by angry readers disagreeing with a particular story or viewpoint expressed within. What they receive less of is support for a particular piece they have published…

So if you agree or disagree with the thrust of pieces written by Clive Aslett (This battle over grouse shooting isn't worth having – The Telegraph) or Charles Clover (Stop this grousing and work together to save the hen harrier – The Times) why not let them know?

This will help demonstrate that those seeking a ban on driven grouse shooting are not the only ones with a voice and that those in the shooting community also care deeply about Britain’s wildlife.

Contact The Telegraph

Email (Daily Telegraph) or (Sunday Telegraph). Or write to: 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0DT. Include name, address, and work and home telephone numbers.

Contact The Times

Email or write to Letters to The Editor, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF.

Don't forget to let us know how you get on!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Launch of National Rural Broadband Helpline

Photo by JP Foto
Photo by JP Foto
by Stephen Roberts
Marketing and Sales Director,
C&R Technologies Ltd

Updated 24th August 2016:

BT hike their prices – again!

Millions of BT customers are about to pay even more for their landline and broadband services, just nine months after they were hit by their last price rise!

And in addition, BT have recently started charging all their TV customers an extra £5 a month for European football matches, unless they opt out.

Line rental will increase by 5.8 per cent to £17.99. The remaining price increases for Voice, Broadband and TV are no greater than 6.94% say BT.

If you’d like advice on your fast, reliable rural broadband and telephony options please feel free to call us on 0800 298 9368 or email us via

We are now launching a National Broadband Helpline Service

Please call us FREE on 0800 298 9368 with your broadband queries and questions about Rural Broadband and the options you or your business have to get fast, reliable broadband service.

Please email your questions to us via or call us FREE on 0800 298 9368.

You can also visit our website or tweet us - @RuralBROADband1

A question we often get asked is "if I change broadband phone line provider, will it improve my broadband ADSL service?"

The answer is this is very unlikely as your new supplier uses the same line from your local exchange to you so moving ISP is unlikely to solve drop out or poor speed problems.

Moving to one of our fast, reliable broadband without a phone systems will improve your service – just call us on 0800 298 9368 to discuss your needs or visit our website.


"Thanks again to C&R Technologies Ltd for providing their Fast, Reliable satellite broadband system and Wi-Fi on our stand at this years CLA Game fair"
- Andrew Gilruth, GWCT Director of Communications

"We now have fast broadband at the farm! Thanks to C&R @RuralBroadband1"
– Oliver Hudson, @wodehill, Farm

First Spanish-British Small Game Management Meeting

by Carlos Sanchez, Wetlands Ecologist, GWCT

Although the British moors and lowlands are quite different from the Spanish Mediterranean forest, small game shooting takes place in both locations, with this an activity of high socio-economic and ecological value to both countries.

Hence, gamekeepers, landowners and scientists from Britain and Spain often deal with similar challenges but, can we learn something from each other for the benefit of game and other wildlife?

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is going to participate in the first “Spanish-British Small Game Management Meeting”, to be held in Ciudad Real (the ‘Spanish Norfolk’) on the 25-27th of September.

This meeting provides a rare opportunity for an exchange of information about game management and will consist on a series of talks and workshops, together with a field trip to a well-managed shooting estate.

Myself, Dr. Nick Sotherton and Dr. Roger Draycott will impart unique advice based on practical experience and science developed by the GWCT, and the same will be done by Spanish scientists and practitioners.

The days will involve inspiring talks and practical demonstrations on habitat creation and management, predator control and other techniques. The event will be held in Spanish.

Would you like to attend?

If you would like to come to the event or are interested in finding out more information please contact

You can download the event programme (in Spanish) here.

Monday, 3 August 2015

2015 CLA Game Fair in pictures

Take a look at this great selection of photos from the 2015 CLA Game Fair shared on Twitter over the weekend:

Friday, 31 July 2015

Friday morning at the Game Fair

Breakfast at the GWCT stand
The 2015 CLA Game Fair is now underway and the GWCT stand has already been a hive of activity with a busy breakfast service and press briefing having already taken place.

Our full English breakfast was a hit and if you're coming to the Game Fair this weekend you can get £2 off by downloading this FREE voucher.

The press gathered on our stand for the unveiling of our new guide to best practice use of medicated grit. You can download this new guide FREE here.

Countryfile team preparing to interview us - Photo by JP Foto
The Game Fair is to be featured on Countryfile on Sunday night and we're pleased to have their team visiting us for an interview on the important conservation work our team of scientists conduct.

The weather's good so far and you can check the latest forecast for Harewood House right here.

We'd love to see you so please pay us a visit at stand A44 by the main arena. Check out what else is going on at our stand here.

Our stand first thing Friday morning
The GWCT full English breakfast - Photo by Andy Poynter
Gathering on our stand ahead of the press briefing - Photo by JP Foto

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Misled about snaring?

GWCT fox snare with 'breakaway' device
In an article in the Veterinary Times, June 2015, Professor Ranald Munro exhorted the veterinary profession to speak out against the use of snares.  Jonathan Reynolds BSc, PhD, Head of Predation Control Studies at the GWCT, submitted a response arguing that Munro had given a very misleading synopsis of the subject.

There has been a lot of scientific research on snares lately.  Jonathan’s article summarises how the subject has developed, and indicates where to find the evidence. It was first published in Veterinary Times 45 issue 30.

Non-lethal intent

Fox snares are not intended to be lethal devices.  Since 1981, when self-locking snares were banned by the Wildlife & Countryside Act, the intended function of fox snares has been to hold the animal alive until it can be humanely dispatched.  Perhaps surprisingly, the captured fox is at little risk (less than 1%).

Wildlife scientists like myself rely on this when we use snares to catch foxes (and other canids) for radio-tagging studies.  For this purpose snares are uniquely effective, injuries are rare, and behaviour after release appears to be normal.  You might argue that this view is biased because we are motivated to ensure the welfare of our study animals and take unusual care.

The veterinary experience of snares, in contrast, typically consists of animals brought for treatment which have been injured in snares.  This brings a different bias, towards snares used unwisely close to housing, captures of domestic pets, and cases involving very poor welfare in wild animals.

In 2004, the Independent Working Group on Snares (IWGS)1 brought together expertise from snare users, animal welfarists, veterinary practice and scientists.  The consensus view was that while snares were an effective tool, they could also cause immense suffering in some circumstances.

From experience, the group felt it could identify aspects of snare design and working practice that led to bad outcomes.  They encapsulated this knowledge in a Code of Practice (CoP),2 which Defra published as its own.  In essence the message was ‘Limit your use of snares and use them with great care’.

Message not received

The Defra study3 referred to by Ranald Munro sought to estimate the extent of snare use across England and Wales, by telephone survey across a random sample of landholdings.  This uncovered the important fact that almost half of snare users were not gamekeepers as expected, but farmers.

As a group, gamekeepers were more familiar with best practice recommendations than were farmers, reflecting where educational effort had been directed.

Nevertheless, it was clear that poor working practices persisted in both groups, and at the date of the study (2009-10) no UK snare manufacturers had yet produced snares that met CoP recommendations.  Why had the message not got through?   I suggest two main reasons.

First, organisations associated with game management or shooting promoted this Code to gamekeepers through training courses and other material; but neither Defra, nor animal welfare organisations, nor farmer organisations did anything to promote the Code.

Second, the CoP was based on expert views, but many snare users also considered themselves experts and were unconvinced that a change in practice was necessary.  To persuade them, the CoP needed to be evidence-based.

How good could it be?

In a second section, the Defra study tested the humaneness of fox snares when used by an experienced technician in a field situation; injuries were independently assessed post mortem by veterinary pathologists, and compared against international humaneness standards for restraining traps.

Best practice was followed.  Provided a CoP–compliant snare was used, humaneness standards for restraining traps were met for foxes.  (For non-target species, the numbers caught were insufficient to judge).

Much more extensive field evidence came from a contemporaneous study by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT)4, in which a thoughtfully re-designed snare was trialled by 34 gamekeepers in a 2-stage, 18-month study, in comparison with whatever snare design they previously used.  No attempt was made to influence their working practices.

The study showed that the risk of injury or death greatly increased if the captured animal could entangle the snare with nearby objects.  For foxes, the risk was 40% when old-style snares were used and entanglement occurred, but less than 1% when entanglement did not occur and improved snares were used.  Entanglement can be entirely avoided by following the working practices recommended in the CoP.

Snares are certainly not ‘totally indiscriminate’ – it is amazing how such a sketchy device can be made to outline where in the landscape a fox will put its head – but there is an attendant, lower risk of catching certain other species.

In an ideal snare, those non-targets would quickly self-release if caught; or, if held until the snare is inspected, would be un-injured and fit for release.  The GWCT study showed that non-target captures could be substantially reduced through hardware design, and that if experimental snares and good working practices had been used exclusively, the underlying risks of injury or death would have passed trap humaneness standards for non-targets as well as for foxes.

The actual incidence of poor welfare will obviously reflect both the density of non-targets and the intensity of snare use: it’s a balance judgement to be made for each situation.

It’s ironic that the non-target species most at risk in terms of numbers caught and injuries sustained was the brown hare; and that a significant cause of injury or death for hares held in the snare was predation by foxes.

It grimly illustrates the difficulty of finding wholly satisfactory solutions to wildlife issues.  The brown hare is a Priority Species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan because of a long-term decline in abundance.

In population terms hares benefit dramatically from fox control, even when that included the use of old-style snares5.  The GWCT’s experimental snare allowed 68% of captured hares to self-release, and a further 24% were judged fit for release when found in the snare.

It is during the breeding season (for hares and other prey), when fox control by shooting is limited by tall vegetative cover, that snares come into their own.  Despite their shortcomings, snares have a role in wildlife management that we cannot yet replace.

GWCT took a constructive approach to an evident problem, and as a result we now have a greatly improved snare design which meets trap-testing standards, and sound best practice guidelines backed with persuasive evidence.

One might have expected all interest groups to embrace these developments, and to join in a renewed educational campaign to drive down the incidence of poor welfare.

Regrettably, animal welfare groups have not done so, nor have they contributed in other ways to constructive progress.  Perhaps the real difference there is idealism versus pragmatism.

Support our predator control team

Please donate so that our dedicated team of scientists can continue their vital work.

£67 – covers the cost of attending a meeting with Defra or other bodies, to present our evidence and help shape policy

£176 – buys a trail camera which can be used for several years to monitor traps and other sites

£480 – pays for a day’s labour and equipment for our three person predation team, producing the science that can influence policy and practice for years to come

Please click here to donate >


1.    Defra (2005) Report of the Independent Working Group on Snares.
2.    Defra (2005) Defra Code of Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox and Rabbit Control.
3.    Defra (2012) Determining the extent of use and humaneness of snares in England and Wales.
4.    Short, M.J., Weldon, A.W., Richardson, S.M., Reynolds, J.C. (2012) Selectivity and injury risk in an improved neck snare for live‐capture of foxes.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 36(2): 208-219
5.    Reynolds, J.C., Stoate, C., Brockless, M.H., Aebischer, N.J., & Tapper, S.C. (2010)  The consequences of predator control for brown hares (Lepus europaeus) on UK farmland.  European Journal of Wildlife Research 56: 541-549

Jonathan Reynolds BSc, PhD is a scientist at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) with more than 30 years post-doctoral experience.  He leads research on how mammalian predators and pests are managed in the conservation of game and other wildlife.