What will happen when the countryside is full of raptors?

File photo dated 02/11/13 of huntsmen and hounds. A decade ago tomorrow one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in recent years was introduced - the Hunting Act. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday February 17, 2015. The ban on hunting with dogs came into force in England and Wales on February 18 2005, a culmination of years of political wrangling and fighting that was often not so metaphorical in fields and woods up and down the land. The legislation was pushed through by Labour backbenchers in November 2004 and brought about a total ban on hunting with dogs, outlawing fox-hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs. See PA story SOCIAL Hunting. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
File photo dated 02/11/13 of huntsmen and hounds. A decade ago tomorrow one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in recent years was introduced - the Hunting Act. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday February 17, 2015. The ban on hunting with dogs came into force in England and Wales on February 18 2005, a culmination of years of political wrangling and fighting that was often not so metaphorical in fields and woods up and down the land. The legislation was pushed through by Labour backbenchers in November 2004 and brought about a total ban on hunting with dogs, outlawing fox-hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs. See PA story SOCIAL Hunting. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire
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The SNP will naturally take the blame for the Prime Minister’s failure to modify the Hunting Act after they forced him to shelve a Westminister vote on relaxing the hunting ban in England and Wales.

But it goes much deeper than that. The reality is: the antis will not stop until they have flooded the countryside with raptors and predators of all shapes and sizes.

How can anyone contemplate with equanimity a situation where farmers and field sports enthusiasts continue to suffer massive losses, financial and otherwise, by the species which the antis profess to care so much about.

They do not seem to care when vulnerable species like lambs, songbirds, hares, poultry and game birds are torn asunder by their beloved foxes, badgers, peregrine falcons, buzzards, sparrowhawks and otters.

Can they honestly say they would lose much sleep if some country dweller, young or old, was pounced upon by one of the big cats they want to release in any of the remote areas populated, of course, by people they seem to consider expendable?

Well, it didn’t take long for the first salmon tagged by DCAL inland fisheries group and the Agri-Food and Bioscincesd Group for research purposes to turn up.

Ulster Angling Federation chairman Jim Haughey who told me about the scheme was delighted to announce that the first of what is hoped will be many tagged salmon was caught at Portna on the Lower Bann.

It is no surprise that the capture should have been made at Portna which has been a favourite stomping ground for anglers for many years. But it is surprising that a tagged fish should have been caught so soon. In fact confirmation of its capture came within hours of details about the study appearing in this column on Saturday.

DCAL Inland Fisheries Group and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) said the recovery of tags would help in assessing the health of salmon stocks and they appealed to all anglers to assist in the scheme. There are rewards for recovered tags but at the time of writing I had not heard who the lucky angler was who caught the tagged fish at Portna.

Any tagged fish caught as part of this scheme does not need to be killed. The number printed on the tag should be noted and this, together with the date and location of capture, its length and weight should be returned to either DCAL Inland Fisheries, River Bush Salmon Station, 21 Church Street, Bushmills, BT 578 QJ or to the Ulster Angling Federation, 14 Gleneden Park, Newtownabbey, BT37 OQl. Anyone wishing to enter their name in the prize draw should include contact details

Good news for coarse anglers. Due to the increasing popularity of catch- and- release and the rising cost of trout, Carrickmannon has introduced coarse angling, while continuing to provide trout fishing. Pike, rudd and carp ponds are available as well as pike fishing on the main lake.

Jamie Symington, Ballynahinch, caught a 12lb pike from the lake and returned another day to catch a six pounder.

Hugh Thompson, Comber, chose to fish for trout on the lake and caught and released 36. Ken Simms and Michael McKee, Carryduff, caught 40 and 35 respectively. John Fleming, Belfast had nine and Jonathan Smart, Belfast, caught 35 from the fly pond.

With the school holidays underway the children’s pond has been particularly busy.

The Burgess family caught six. Martin Murphy, Belfast, and William Burton, Annalong each caught three.

John McCoubrey and Winston Orr, Belfast, caught 11 for 13lb from the lake. Recently the fishery has welcomed anglers from Holland, USA, England, France and Donegal.

For further details contact 02897510654 or 07787853903 or e-mail carrickmannonfishery@btinternet.com, website www.carrickmannon.com.

At Craigmore, Sandy Dorian had five trout to his boat at 6pm on Saturday but ended up with 27 to 7lb 10oz. John Bailey had 18 to 6lb.Maurice Anderson had 19 to 9lb on buzzers and dries.

Other catches were: Chris Martin, 35 to 6lb; Tommy Wharry, 18; John Hughes, 24 to 5lb; Alan McDowell, 29 to 7lb; Norman Nesbit, 12 to 7lb; Billy Hazlett, 13; Gary Graham, 25 to 5lb; Jim Magill, 13; Billy Todd, 12 to 6lb; Sean Smith, 25; Robert Holmes, 12 to 5lb; Paul Holmes 10; Andy McClelland, 20 on two visits; Martin Foster, 10 to 6lb.

Tommy Curlow, 15; Keith Henry, 12 to 5lb; Paul Armstrong, 21 to 5lb; James Harper, 30 to 6lb on two visits; John Dixon, nine to 5lb; T Woods, eight to 7lb; William Kinnaird and Ruth Arrell, nine to 6lb; Darren Evans, 10; Rab Wilson, 12 to 6lb; Malcolm Reagan, 6lb; Jeff Davidson, 4lb; David Moore, two at 4lb; Robert Wade, 6lb; John Carson, 4lb 10oz;, Colin McCleave, 5lb; Davy Alexander, two at 6lb 8oz; Billy McIlvenna, 6lb 10oz; Peter Stewart,5lb 8oz; S McCord, 4lb 8oz; Chris Martin, three to 6lb; Michael Burns,5lb 8oz.

At Cashel, Declan Bradley, Swatragh, used sedges to bank 12 trout and Andrew Logan, Dungiven, used klinkhammers to bank seven. Kevin and Pat Mullan, Limavady, tempted a few as did Gerry Gallagher and James Shields, Donegal.

Sean Cottle, Stephen Gurney and Ken Foster, Limavady, had a good day and Danny Walker and Jim Russell, Monkstown and Newtownabbey, used small white dry flies and Walker specials to take fish averaging 3lb. Shaun McIntyre, Derry, accompanied by his son Callum, caught and released a couple while Ian Millar, Ballykelly, released two which took an f-fly.