Feb 23, 2014 17:28
Figures show that the Crown Estate’s ‘vermin control’ methods wiped out 1,161 rabbits, 118 parakeets, 28 hares and nine moles
An animal welfare campaign group has slammed a ‘Windsor wildlife massacre’ after figures showed more than 7,000 animals were killed on the royal estate in just a single year.
The staggering total for 2013 includes 1,161 rabbits, 772 jackdaws, 325 squirrels, 191 crows, 159 foxes, 118 parakeets, 56 roe deer, 28 hares, nine moles and three mink.
Animal Aid, which uncovered the figures through a Freedom of Information request, called it “carnage” and labelled the activities “morally repugnant”.
The royals have been under fire for their hunting exploits – despite public promises to do all they can to protect animals threatened with extinction overseas.
Prince Harry was pictured with the body of a shot water buffalo and Prince William appeared at a United for Wildlife Symposium days after spending the weekend before shooting wild boar and stag in Spain.
Prince Philip, the the Duke of Edinburgh, is the official ranger of Windsor Great Park and the Windsor Estate is owned and managed by the Crown.
The Windsor Estate has responded to the figures by claiming that most of the “vermin control” – including 3,901 pigeons – was done at the request of tenant farmers.
It said deer and squirrels were destroyed at the request of the foresters horticulturalists as well as Natural England to protect young trees.
While foxes were shot to protect game birds – themselves reared to be shot for sport – wild deer were “managed” to protect tees and formal gardens, and small mammals such as moles were “only controlled in our formal garden areas or on sports grounds”.
But Animal Aid hit back at the claims, saying the “mass destruction of corvids and pigeons was unscrupulous and unnecessary”.
It said that the killing of 28 brown hares “will upset many people who believe that hares are protected”. Although plans are in place to reverse their declining number, they are still legally hunted and shot.
The charity said that there are non-lethal solutions available to problems cited by the Windsor Estate and criticised the “culture of killing in the countryside” where animals not serving a useful purpose or posing a risk, however small, are “snuffed out”.
Animal Aid’s Kate Fowler said: “The annual massacre at Windsor is without justification.
“Across the UK, wild animals are under great threat from industry, road and housing development, climate change, habitat loss, pesticide use and other man-made problems.
“Rather than looking for humane solutions, one of the richest estates in the country – managed by individuals who are connected to blood sports – would rather reach for guns, traps and poisons and obliterate animals who get in its way.
“What about compassion? What about sharing the natural world with the other species who live here, even if that means taking a minor dent in its multimillion pound profits?”.
Here’s the full breakdown of the animals killed on the Windsor Estate in 2013:
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
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Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports