Thursday, 19 November 2020

"The official policy is to euthanise them" (UK 'Big Cats')



 I just spoke to a check who contacted me about my post mentioning a large non native cat being killed by a vet.

He told me that I had to realise that the official government policy was to euthanise any exotic animal caught and especially larhe cats -"we are officially obliged to put down injured wildlife now rather than treat them -we can be prosecuted if we do not"

Yes, England the nation of animal lovers who for many, many decades has treated then re-released injured British mammals are legally obliged to kill them now. But I was wondering about which government body had an official policy to kill and exotic trapped or captured in the UK.  I was told: The DEFRA are very strict on the matter and we have to be quiet about any exotic we put down bevcause of animal rights repurcussions"

I knew that the old Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) advised farmers that it was up to them what they did about such animals on their land but I also know through the late Quentin Rose that he was paid several times to see if he could track and shoot large cats (whether he did he was cagey about.

 When I asked a senior police officer in one force that had used Rose I found that I was seriously slapped down and told to keep out of it. I have worked with UK police forces since 1975 and never once had this negative attitude let alone from a senior officer. I did wonder what he was worried about -local PWOs were still friendly and helpful.

 But by this time MAFF had become the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and became even more hardline on the subject.

I knew RSPCA vets had been involved in some incidents and there were at least three large cats killed. Only one farmer and his wife spoke out about one incident -for which my solicitor holds the affidavit. Farmers were worried since DEFRA could cause them many bureaucratic problems.

The vet who contacted me I have done a background check on and know wherehe is based, etc. I cannot -will not- name him for very obvious reasons. I asked him if he could even guess how many trapped exotics had been killed in recent years and his response was that in talking to other vets he knew raccoons, raccoon-like dogs, "some odd foxes" and at least two large black cats had been put down and there were indicators of ther instances.

My next question was whether any vet he knew of -and I very strongly suspect that he might be one of those- had ever checked for micro chips etc in case the animal was an exotic pet that had escaped. "No, we don't do that it's just a case of do the job and get the animal disposed of quickly and absolutely no photographs to be taken". I think the "we" tells its own story.

There was a raccoon dog "humanely euthenised" in Wales recently. No checks to see if it was an escaped pet or not. Just the usual over-stressing of the animals being a major threart to UK wildlife.

It is pretty much out in the open now tjhat if you reporty any exotic -cats included0 to the RSPCA or DEFRA they are logged and marked fdor killing -with or without the property owner knowing as we have seen on the Welsh-English border.

This is why witness identity and locations are kept confidential. It is also one of the reasons why I eventually had every official block put on me by DEFRA when my inclusion on the Partners Aganst Wildlife crime was being renewed. Three police forces chief constables backed my membership but DEFRA blocked it. In fact I never bothered to argue the matter after I learnt that any individual or group then on the PAWS list was obliged by law to turn its information over to DEFRA.

Oh, I do not keep information stored on computers and good luck looking through my Day Books and papers!

Projects Surveys

 I am going to keep making these appeals in the hope that eventually someone responds. Before reading the below please note that I have been dealing with people on a confidential basis since 1975 and in all that time not one name of an observer/watcher has ever been given out: all communications are confidential.

 Fox Study Project 

I am looking for:

(1) Photographs of foxes that people see in their gardens or while out walking.  This is so that I can see what colour coats and tail markings foxes have in different areas of the country.

(2) Information on whether foxes in your area have been hit by mange at any point and what happened to the fox (if known)

(3) If you have foxes in your area and whether local people are feeding them.

Please note that when you do get in touch I will need to know at least the street and town you live in. This is due to hoaxing in the past.

Non-native cats

(1) Reports of sightings along with as complete a description of the cat seen as you can remember.

(2) Location of the sighting

(3) Are there wild rabbits, deer or other wildlife in the area?

(4) Has this type of cat been sighted in the area before and do you know thedate/year of that sighting.

(5) Naturally, if you know someone else who has seen the cat could you please ask them to get touch re. their sighting?

Feral & Wild Cats



(1) Are there local feral (domestic cats living wild) in your area and do you know how many?

(2) Are those cats being fed by locals or are they fending for themselves?

(3) Wild Cats is a term used to describe the European or Scottish wild cat and we are aware of reports of these being sighted around Englamnd and Wales -possibly as released pairs. Have you sighted one of these cats and where -also are they known generally to be in the area?

(4) Until they can be positively identified the next cat we have called the "Hooper Cat" -a name coined by police wildlife officers in the 1990s. These cats are black and tend to be described as long legged. They are known in Nottinghamshire, Midlands and North of England (I am not giving out locations). 

(5) If you have seen one of these cats where? Is it known locally and what other type of wildlife is in the area -rabbits, etc?

While some of these cats are black dark brown and greyish have been noted. The following photographs show the difference between a domestic cat and the "Hooper Cat" -this includes longer legs and size and patterned coats.




Wolverine

(c) Livescience.com

From the 2000 study paper I know where wolverines were at that point. Whether Scotland, Wales or England if you have seen these animals then please get in touch and, again:

(1) if you know that these animals are generally known about in the area let me know.

(2) what other type of wildlife is in the area -foxes, rabbits, deer etc?

That is it. Basic information gathering and I hope that some people may have filmed or photographed not just cats but also the foxes.

As noted all communications and names and addresses are kept confidential.

At one point I used to answer the phone from 0600 hrs -2300 hrs but thosedays are gone and to mainly help witnesses not ring up big phone bills I am doing all communication by email or Face Book Messenger which are free.

Email: earpol@yahoo.co.uk

Face Book Messenger look for the Fox, Wildcat and Wolverine Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/415064292839013

Exotic Animals Register on Face Book

https://www.facebook.com/groups/333424654278541

If you can contribute information to this study -Thank You

Terry Hooper-Scharf

Projects Coordinator

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

The Red Paper II: Felids -where is it?

 I was asked why I had not published the second Red Paper (Red Paper II: Felids)? The reason is simple: the Department for Environment Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have a policy to, where ever possible, catch and kill ("humanely euthenise") any "non native cat". 

In 1995 I received a telephone call from someone at DEFRA who demanded that I turn over any and all maps and data pertaining to species/territorioes that I had. The threat was made that if I did not my files would be seized as they "pertained to threats to human life". I was told the police would be involved. I took the phone call using a speaker phone as I had various papers sorting out while my solicitor was present. He heard the entire conversation and I told the DEFRA man to talk to my solicitor -he was rather stunned when my solicitor actually said "Hello" and then asked by what authority he was "threatening a reputable and noted citizen scientist" and blah blah blah.

I have to say I was never called a "citizen scientist" before and I was mildly amused.

Anyway, the DEFRA man cut the call short and cited breaching privacy rules" and my soliciotor pointed out that the man was "chancing his arm". He did ask what I was going to do. I told him: destroy papers containg any and all information as demanded -and I burnt the material after everything was photocopied and put in the safe hands of another solicitor.

I know that on three occasions during the late 1990s DEFRA in Wales and their senior vet put out a call to get a hold of any and all livestock reported by farmers as being possible large cat kills.  A police wildlife officer once told me about this and said: "It was made very clear to get any such animal carcass 'before Hooper could get photographs or examine the kills' "  

I received reports from three different farmers over a short period who asked about the report on their dead sheep. Cutting a long story short; all three had smnall white (unmarked) vans turn up and the man/men in them say they were collecting the carcasses for me to carry out a post mortem procedure -I am not qualified to do this procedure and certainly do not have the facilities to do so. Apparently the van(s) had dirtied number plates -the farmers had looked.

I was suspicious soI ran the chief veterinary officer in Wales. I to;ld the receptionist that I was calling about the sheep carcasses collected and was put through with no other questions. I had a chat with the chief vet who was rather forthcoming but then stopped suddenly and asked my name. I told her and she became rather livid and asked how I had gotten through to her number and after I told her the phone was put down. 

I have reports from reliable people who have seen non native cats killed after reporting them to DEFRA "just to let yoyu knbow. They are causing no problems and keeping the rabbits down" calls that they later regretted. Being securely held for me is a signed affidavit of a DEFRA vet killing what appearsto be a panther in the presence of a farmer -the farmer thought it was being tranquilised to go to a zoo or wildlife park. The farmer was emotionally overcome by what had happened and he cionbtacted the police wildlife officer to tell him what went on. The PWLO was very angry. Curiously, about two weeks later the farmer spotted another one of the cats and told me he would tell no one.

Sadly, we also have people who are 'big game hunters' or self styled 'big cat hunters'. There are also groups and they are associated in some cases with groups.

In the late 1990s I had planned a survey of an area in Wales that I had been keeping an eye on for a while. I was told by Dyfed-Powys police that if I did plan to do such a survey I would require an armed officer to go with me. Telephone calls threatening to "blow your face off" or "You'll see up close what a shot gun does to a face" didn't worry me that much and neither did an attempted break-in planned to grab my files -the men were interrupted by a friend pulling up in a car and illuminating them in headlights.

Also, every person who talks to me is guaranteed confidentiality and a good few will not even tell me a thing until they are sure I am not hunting. In some cases an individual would be representing a local community who just want me to know about the local cats but making damned sure that I knew what would happen if I turned up with a rifle -and I have reports of armed men in land rovers turning up at night and scouring areas where a cat was reported.  Official? Unofficial? Either way the police wanted to know who they were.

The Exotic Animals Register had an adage (still does) and it reflects exactly the same thinking of badger groups and other naturalists who know what is going on out there:

           "Never by word nor deed to cause harm to an animal"

I have, over several years, had national newspaper reporters offer a great deal of money that I really could use for maps and information (the last offer went up to £8000 before they realised I was not biting) that could lead them to "getting evidence" of a 'big cat' -I knewexactly who they were employing and the idea was to shoot and kill a cat.

Really, to make a very meagre amount of money from a book detailing all of this knowing full well who is out there (official and unofficial)  and what they wou;ld do with the information....no.

But to the question what evidence do we have I will say that I do intend to present that. To summarise:

1.  Anecdotal evidence. Word of mouth reports where people are reporting cats and describing them very accurately.  Officially, for any other form of wilfdlife this would be officially accepted as evidence to base studies on.

Anecdotal evidence includes locals klnowing of a cat species living in their area for a long period. I was contacted  by a person in one village who asked what my intentions were re. "the cat" and I persuaded them that I was not a hunter. I heard that one cat had been sighted near the school where she taught and that there was a local farmer (a woman) who walked around with an old pitchfork having been given a fright by a cat (in fact woman and cat casually bumped into each other by a hedgerow and then both cat and woman moved off in diofferent directions). 

When the teacher had told me about her sighting I went into the usual "what to do if you come face to face with a cat or know one is in the area" talk but she stopped me and told me what all the advice was and I said "Oh, you've checked online?" her response was "No. My mother told me that because she was taught what to do when the cat is in the area". I was confused. I was then told that her mother had been taught what to do as a child. I asked "who told her?" and it seems her own mother had and she had learnt from her mother. Now I was getting to suspect something along the lines of a hoax so checked my files as we talked and asked her how long this cat was supposed to have been around. She pointed out that it obviously was not the same cat her gran had seen as a child in the 1930s! In fact, I do know from reports that there were reports back in the 1930s and they had never stopped just nbot been reported to newspapers.

I found similar stories from three other villages. 

We have reports of people being within 10 feet (3m) of a black cat and details are accurate in all details. Hoaxes? Well, I have spoken to people who insist,and get quite annoyed when you correct them, that they have seen "the puma".  They will give as accurate a description as anyone could ever need...but they are describing a black leopard.  In other cases they are describing lynx, As far as they are concerned they saw puma. There are also very up -close reports of black leopards and in one case (at night) a night watchman told me that his back was up against an iron gateway and that he carried a hammer and this was readied as the cat closed in on him. Stopped. Then moved off slowly.

I try trickery and most other methods to trip up a witness. Very few are hoaxers (about 5 in 30 years).

2. We have the kills. These have been examined as have bones We have experts examine biones and report (with photograph) "3rd metatarsal of sub-juvenile foal showing felid upper carnassial (p3) cusp-pattern abrasion on proximal epiphysis" and "vertebrae of sub-juvenile foal showing distinctive felid-pattern damage".

3.  We have sheep carcasses high up in tree branches supporting evidence that a leopard killed and stored it in the tree.

4.  We have the photographs of wounds on a horse that have been expertly identified as "puma type felid attack" showing where teeth went in as well as clawes -the horse was wounded but survived.

5.  "Field signs" that back up (1) above.

6.  Puma scat

Previous to my work with the Unioversity of Wales team I had no access to experts willing to put their names to these findings. Zoologists sighting cats as well as hearing "puma screams" and examining carcasses but as they were no officially attached to universities their testimony was ignored.

Looking at the two reams worth of material now any doubts I had have been brushed aside. There is absolutely no doubt that Medium and Large sized cats as well as smaller ones, are in the UK and anecdotal evidence goes back to the 19th century at least. In some areas these cats have bred, indicating that pairs were originally released/escaped and the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals act was not when "all of this started".

Some finding will be released in 2021 and for me that will be it. No details of territories or "where to find them".

As a naturalist I would still love to hear more about these cats so, please, if you have photos or have seen the cats contact me via theExotic Animals Register page on Face Book or at (monitored email): blacktowercg@hotmail.com -completely confidentisal.

Thank you



Monday, 16 November 2020

Skull of Foal Killed by a Puma in the UK (and I have the experts report)

 Just had to download a couple of technical papers from Academia.edu and learnt that I have been mentioned 631 times in papers.

I'd sooner be rich.
Anyway, I had to unpack and re-store a foal skull that was examined by a Prof who specialised in this. Apparently there is dentition evidence that the foal was killed by a "large predatory cat". I have the original paper somewhere.
According to the Prof I worked with: "I see Ros has been very careful about not giving precise locations.  It's great that the UK has made a significant contribution to the methodology of "medium sized felid" studies."
That was 2011 and then silence.

I talked to a fellow who says that he was at the university and the rumour was ("a very strong rumour") that the Professor and the project was shut down after threats about funding from "outside" and one of the conditions was not contacting me even to explain what was going on.

True? Who knows but it was the last time I'll ever work with an academic as this was the 5th who took the reports and data as well as maps then dumped on me.

Oddly, just remembered that I thought that it was odd the Professor sent me the skull to "hold on to in case it is needed as evidence at a later date" because I thought this would be better kept by an academic involved in the work...maybe it wasn't a rumour?





Appeal -Wild Cats

  If anyone knows of interested people -in the UK- with an interest in feral cats or have had sightings of what look to be typical Scottish wild cat types please ask them to get in touch.

Thank you.

"The official policy is to euthanise them" (UK 'Big Cats')

 I just spoke to a check who contacted me about my post mentioning a large non native cat being killed by a vet. He told me that I had to re...