Modern criminal

Modern Poisoner Mike Wood article March 2015 - CopyA few days ago we blogged about an attack on the campaign group Birders Against Wildlife Crime that had appeared in this month’s edition of Modern Gamekeeping (see here).

We also said we’d be blogging about another article that had been published in this industry rag. It’s a full-page spread on page 18, written by Mike Wood. Here’s the bio that accompanies this piece:

Michael Wood is a partner at Westfield Farms in Pickering, North Yorkshire. Founded in 1953, the farm has 59 years of experience breeding game birds, including pheasant, mallard, red-leg partridge and grey partridge“.

What the bio doesn’t say is ‘Michael Wood is a criminal with eight wildlife crime convictions to his name’.

See here and here.

Interesting, eh? How many times are we told not to tar all gamekeepers with the same brush? But why should we distinguish between lawful and criminal gamekeepers when the game-shooting industry itself doesn’t seem to bother? We already know that the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation doesn’t mind that Wood has wildlife crime convictions – they’ll still accept fund-raising donations from him and Charles Nodder from the NGO will still work with the Game Farmers’ Association, even though convicted wildlife criminal Wood is the GFA’s current Chairman (see here).

So we know that Noddy and the NGO don’t shun convicted wildlife criminals. But what about BASC? Surely they’ve got standards? Hmm. Take a look at this header from the front of Modern Gamekeeping:

 Modern Poisoner header March 2015 - Copy

It’s hard to read from this image so here’s what it says:

Modern Gamekeeping is proud to be in partnership with The British Association for Shooting and Conservation”.

Does that mean that BASC (a member of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime (PAW UK)) endorses the idea that a wildlife criminal with multiple convictions should be given column inches in an industry publication to discuss the ‘management’ of his game-rearing farm? Surely not.

All in it together…?


10 Responses to “Modern criminal”

  1. 1 Martin Gilbert
    March 6, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Full marks to RPS for keeping on top of these criminals. Those of us who value our wildlife, but don’t have the time to follow these villains down every rabbit hole owe you for keeping us informed. Keep doing what you are doing, snapping at their heels and eventually we’ll all be shot of of the lot of them!

  2. March 6, 2015 at 9:17 am

    What bothers me, as you say, is the phrase ‘tarring them all with the same brush’. We hear this so often from the shooting fraternity that it’s only a few bad keepers that spoil the profession’s ‘glowing’ reputation, yet all of the good keepers (if they really exist in this gamey world of smoke and mirrors) do not speak up about a fellow keeper’s criminality and adopt a brethren like silence, therefore suffering the consequences of others’ criminal actions. Why, and could the reason be that one good favour deserves another and that it might be ‘me’ facing prosecution the next time?

    Recently, I recall having a keeper literally chase after me in his 4×4 to clear the air about something that I had found on the hills and that was a result of having asked the ‘uninformed’ local wildlife officer about it. He was passionate toexplain the facts on this matter (wooden posts with wire loops on them that are actually used for tethering the stalking ponies to…..I had a suspicion that they were possibly pole-trap posts) but he would not be pressed about another unsolved and serious criminal action on his estate when I asked. Most estate owners/factors/solicitors tell the keepers not to say anything during police investigations …..and I must ask under what threat is their silence bonded?

    The real problem is that most keepers actually think that they are not really breaking the law and that there is never a police presence/threat in these remote rural areas where most wildlife crime happens and until the police begin to treat these crimes with true gravitas they will still continue to happen. A few uniformed bobbies up in the heather every other day would soon stop them………mmmm no!

    • 5 George M
      March 6, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Well said, Dave. I, too, have come up against collusion between gamekeepers and police and suffered accordingly. Maybe if I had the power to grant OBE’s it might have all been so very different.

      • 6 Les Wallace
        March 14, 2015 at 1:44 pm

        A few days ago I sent an email to the environment/wildlife correspondent on one of the big papers. Suggested that it was well past time that the jaw droppingly blatant collusion between game interests and some members of the constabulary was exposed and thereby the practice became something that would become politically unacceptable. The embarassment factor would be so great that it could no longer take place due to incompetence or turning of blind eye by police management. The example I gave was the obvious one of a former WCO covering a certain part of XXXXX where raptor numbers went through the floor during his stint, and now he is a rep for shooting interests, in fact he was on a sports channel recently. I am especially angry at this practice because my brother is a copper, but he is a REAL policeman and it disgusts me that the whole force is seriously tarnished by this, it is a form of theft taking wages for a job you are not doing. The whole issue warrants serious and in depth media coverage. If one does not exist already maybe an idea to put together case histories in a file which should help in getting the media and authorities to take this seriously.

    • March 6, 2015 at 11:36 am

      There was a case a few years back of, as i recall, 2 gamekeepers ‘grassing’ on a criminal gamekeeper. I also don’t understand why this doesn’t happen more often or why the industry’s press and PR are so determined to reinforce their own bad image. I am happy to tar the representing bodies but not every gamekeeper although i agree a division within the industry is needed for me to believe that ‘a few bad apples’ are not actually ‘a few good apples’. Cowardice and misplaced loyalty could be one cause for this lack of self-regulation within the industry. The same can be said about farmers. I can’t imagine why they would want to be represented by such ridiculous press and PR agencies (on White-tailed Eagles for example) without internal dissent.
      This attitude is a demonstration of the psychology of denial and its association with the political mind-set (very similar to climate change denial). I don’t believe this mind-set/belief system can be broken over a short span of time and the only solution is very heavy financial penalties and prison sentences for the criminals.

  3. 8 Chris Roberts
    March 6, 2015 at 9:34 am

    The entire ‘modern’ gameshooting ‘industry’ is rotten to the core – a despicable blot on the countryside.

  4. 9 NorthernDiver
    March 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Just received a reply from PAW.

    “A number of people contacted the PAW Secretariat about the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation’s position in PAW. All of them were similar to yours. This is the first time that members of the public have contacted the Secretariat requesting the removal of an organisation’s membership.

    The PAW Steering Group considered this at its meeting on 4 March and whilst noting your concerns, requested that you send any evidence that you have and the reasons why you believe the NGO is behaving contrary to the objectives of PAW to an existing PAW member. If you can persuade one of them to accept your evidence/views, they can then submit this to the Steering Group for discussion at its next meeting. Any positive contribution which the NGO makes to PAW will also be considered. A list of PAW partners can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/government/groups/partnership-for-action-against-wildlife-crime

    Kind regards

    Jane Withey (Defra)”

    Any polite, legal and accurate suggestions as to how I may respond to this? My email was a response to your previous blog info. I think the public should keep the pressure on.
    Plus any thoughts on the Hawk and Owl Trust’s Vice Chairman, Col. Robin Rees-Webbe being a previous organiser of the CLA’s Game Fair ?

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