Good British carnivorous mammals news


This October 2017 video is called A short video guide to otters in Britain, by Ross Lawford.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Wild carnivores stage a comeback in Britain

February 25, 2019

Once-endangered carnivorous mammals such as otters, polecats and pine martens have staged a remarkable comeback in Britain in recent decades, a new review shows.

The study found that — with the exception of wildcats — the status of Britain’s native mammalian carnivores (badger, fox, otter, pine marten, polecat, stoat and weasel) has “markedly improved” since the 1960s.

The species have largely “done it for themselves” — recovering once harmful human activities had been stopped or reduced, according to scientists from the University of Exeter, Vincent Wildlife Trust, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Hunting, trapping, control by gamekeepers, use of toxic chemicals and destruction of habitats contributed to the decline of most predatory mammals in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

“Unlike most carnivores across the world, which are declining rapidly, British carnivores declined to their low points decades ago and are now bouncing back,” said lead author Katie Sainsbury, a PhD researcher at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“Carnivores have recovered in a way that would have seemed incredibly unlikely in the 1970s, when extinction of some species looked like a real possibility.”

The researchers collected survey reports from the last 40 years and compared changes in the species’ distribution extent and population sizes. They also reviewed human activities that have helped or hindered Britain’s native carnivores in recent decades.

Otters have almost completely recolonised Great Britain. Badger populations have roughly doubled since the 1980s.

Polecats have expanded across southern Britain from Wales, and pine martens have expanded from the Scottish Highlands.

Fox numbers have risen since the 1960s, though an apparent decline in the last decade may be linked with dwindling rabbit numbers.

“Most of these animals declined in the 19th century, but they are coming back as a result of legal protection, conservation, removal of pollutants and restoration of habitats,” said Professor Robbie McDonald, head of Exeter’s Wildlife Science group.

“The recovery of predatory mammals in Britain shows what happens when you reduce the threats that animals face. For the most part these species have recovered by themselves.”

“Reintroductions have also played a part. Fifty one pine martens were recently translocated to Wales from Scotland and these martens are now breeding successfully in Wales. Otter reintroductions helped re-establish the species in the east of England.”

Thought must now be given to how growing numbers of these animals interact with humans, the researchers say.

Some of the species can pose problems for gamekeepers, anglers and farmers, and work must be done to find ways to prevent conflict and allow long-term co-existence as the species expand their ranges and numbers.

Wildcats are the exception to the pattern of recovery. The species is now restricted to small numbers in isolated parts of the Scottish Highlands. Some estimates suggest there are as few as 200 individuals left. Their decline has largely been caused by inter-breeding with domestic cats, leading to loss of wildcat genes.

The status of stoats and weasels remains obscure.

Professor McDonald said: “These small and fast-moving predators are hard to see and to survey. Ironically, the best means of monitoring them is from the records of gamekeepers who trap them. People are key to carnivore recovery.

“By involving local communities from the outset, we have been able to secure the return of healthy numbers of pine martens to Wales. Translocations were needed because natural spread, something the Trust has been monitoring in polecats over the past 25 years, will take much longer for the slower breeding pine marten” said Dr Jenny MacPherson of Vincent Wildlife Trust.

The paper, published in the journal Mammal Review, is entitled: “Recent history, current status, conservation and management of native mammalian carnivores in Great Britain.”

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Birds in Britain, video


This 15 January 2019 video says about itself:

At the RSPB, we look after nature year-round, from the smallest insects on the ground to the largest birds high in the sky. You could help us over the whole year, in spring, summer, autumn and winter: this short film shows you how.

The video features curlews, puffins, swifts, a cirl bunting and many other birds.

Britons against foreign military interventions


This December 2011 video is called Invasion of Iraq: How the British and Americans got it wrong.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Friday, January 11, 2019

More than half of Brits oppose military intervention overseas, new poll reveals

MORE than half of British adults oppose the use of military troops overseas, an international poll revealed.

Of the 1,691 Brits surveyed by YouGov in November, 52 per cent agreed with the policy of Britain “not taking part in military interventions in other countries.”

Published this week, the poll suggested that only 27 per cent said they disagree and 21 per cent said they “don’t know.”

Pacifist group Peace Pledge Union (PPU) welcomed the results, pointing out that the British public was much more anti-war than most politicians.

PPU spokesperson Symon Hill said: “If the government were as keen on ‘the will of the people’ as it claims to be, it would end the role of British troops in fuelling violent conflict in countries such as Syria, Estonia and Saudi Arabia.

“With his plans for new military bases, [Defence Secretary] Gavin Williamson seems more concerned with playing out his military fantasies than with either public opinion or real security.

“The government’s policies are of more benefit to arms companies than they are to the British public or the people in the countries to which British troops are sent.”

Mr Hill said that opposition parties need to have “more courage” to clearly adopt anti-war and anti-militarist policies with ending military interventions overseas being “a great first step.”

‘Grenfell’ fire danger in British military barracks


This 15 July 2017 video from Britain says about itself:

Grenfell Tower fire survivors describe horrors trying to escape: Part 1

Residents who lived in the London public housing tower say they fought through smoke, tried to save neighbors, but many never made it out.

By Phil Miller in Britain:

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Grenfell-style fire risk at barracks branded a “shocking failure”

DEFENCE Secretary Gavin Williamson is under attack by a parliamentary committee that is “extremely concerned” that an inferno at shoddy military quarters could kill British soldiers in their sleep.

Commons defence committee chair Julian Lewis, a Tory, has sent a scathing letter to the minister about the “shocking failure” of fire safety at barracks across Britain.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) houses unmarried soldiers in a range of accommodation, including a central London tower block called Hyde Park Barracks that is taller than Grenfell Tower, raising the prospect of another tragedy.

Fire safety at the barracks is outsourced to Capita, a company with an “appalling” track record on MoD contracts, according to Mr Lewis.

He questioned the MoD’s decision to “assign such important safety responsibilities to a company with such a poor record of service delivery.”

Mr Lewis is concerned that a “range of serious deficiencies” in fire safety has now “contributed to a serious risk to life.”

He made the comments after reading reports by official watchdog the Defence Safety Authority (DSA).

There were two “notable fires” at barracks that triggered a special investigation by the DSA into fire safety, with inspectors visiting 16 barracks in Britain, Ireland and the Falkland Islands.

They found “an unacceptable degradation of safety management” and blamed senior officials for a failure to follow legislation.

In a chilling echo of the Grenfell tragedy, inspectors were especially concerned by “a failure to recognise and report faulty fire doors that could result in fires and smoke spreading from the room of fire origin into escape routes.”

They warned that this placed “all the occupants at risk when a fire occurs.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) told the Morning Star that it was “deeply concerned” at this “shocking failure to protect military personnel.”

National officer Dave Green condemned “complacency at the heart of this government regarding fire safety” and warned ministers to urgently address the fire risk on military sites. …

Capita did not respond to a request for comment.