I am afraid there are more questions than answers in this week’s column.
Here are a few of them:
Who is to compensate sheep farmers for compelling them for years to use highly toxic organophosphate dip?
What is to be done about the ‘scientists’ who allegedly fiddled the figures on global warming, adding millions of pounds to the cost of energy?
Who will compensate children and old dears if and when they are mauled by lynx and bears which may be released by get-rich-quick opportunists, ostensibly to skim off some of the excess deer in the UK?
Who will have sympathy for the Loughgiel farmer who lost 28 lambs this spring to ‘adorable,’ furry little foxes?
Who will make amends for the release of hundreds of raptors which have silenced the song of the lark in many areas and ripped to shreds other indigenous wildlife like hares, lapwing, robins, blackbirds, pheasant and partridge?
Who will compensate estate and shoot owners for the loss of hundreds of game birds?
And, after the revelation that organic milk can be harmful to babies, will there be a proper inquiry into the safety or otherwise of ‘organic’ salmon?
Thanks to my old friend Tommy Conlon I already have the answer as to what may be done about the disaster on his beloved Brantry Lough. There will be another high level meeting.
At what he called ‘a very good meeting’ in the Cohannon Inn, a letter from DCAL Minister Caral Ni Chuilin to local MP Michelle Gildernew was released. This is a shortened version of what the Minister said: “My department requested that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency undertake some oxygen monitoring as part of an investigation into a fish kill on June 29, 2014 at Brantry Lough
“The investigation determined that there was insufficient oxygen in the water below four metres to sustain fish life and the high surface water temperatures would have caused fish stress forcing them to move down to the deoxygenated layer where they died.
“The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute report reaffirms that the evidence gathered would support (the contention) that this was the most likely cause of the fish kill. It is unlikely that the fish kill was a result of the overpopulation of coarse fish present in the lough.
“The November 2014 survey by AFBI confirmed the presence of roach and perch populations despite these species being eradicated previously from Brantry Lough. The results of the survey would suggest multiple introductions of these species into the lough at different times but the exact source of these introductions is not known.”
There are to be further high level meetings about Brantry in the near future and I would imagine that Tommy Conlon and Danny Raymond will be wanting more answers about pollution and the presence of roach and perch in the lough and how they got there.
The November survey said: “At the time of the survey the fish community of Lough Brantry was numerically dominated by roach (previously unrecorded) and in biomass by stocked brown trout. The perch population is small and composed of young individuals.”
Hopefully, I will be able to include a fuller version of the report in next week’s article. And I hope to include Jim Haughey’s question to the DoE about sand dredging at Lough Neagh, Michael Martin’s observations and the appointment of Gary Lavery to an important post related to angling.
Meanwhile, losses of lambs to foxes were heavy in many parts of North Antrim but by far the worst losses were suffered by Loughgiel farmer, Jack McNaughton, who, over a short period, lost 27 before Loughgiel marksman, Barry Mullan, managed to account for the vixen.
When I was talking to him one evening this week Barry was on his way out to try to get the dog fox with lamp and rifle. A couple of days after the vixen was shot, the dog fox took another lamb belonging to Jack.
Barry and another great marksman Jeff McFadden, told me that James Albert Carr had spotted the vixen making her way back to her cubs about half a mile from where she had been killing.
Barry said that on the night the vixen was shot, he had waited for more than two hours before she returned to her cubs. He said it was around 9 o’clock and nearly dark before she showed up. She had four big cubs and all were accounted for.
The loss of 27 lambs could be disastrous for many a farming family but it is not the worst such incident that I have reported on over the years. The late Patrick McCormick of Torr lost 31 to an old manged dog fox that had, for weeks, defied all attempts to track him down. As I reported at the time, the reason why he escaped for so long was that he had been lying out all the time and not going into any of the known earths in the area.
In a last-ditch effort to find him, Sean Mort and I went out to check rocks above Culraney chapel. As usual, fox was not at home when we called but my terriers indicated that he had been around. We found him asleep behind a rush in a gulley above the chapel. The killing ended that evening.
Meanwhile, sheep farmers all over these islands would have been interested in Christopher Bookers’ column in the Sunday Telegraph (April 26). In it he said that the 1991 Health and Safety finding in its internal study into the organophosphate disaster were so devastating that they had to be ruthlessly suppressed.
Farmers and their families in Northern Ireland will be aware of the dreadful effects of coming into contact with OP dip when they were dipping their sheep. For some it was actually fatal and for others their health was compromised.
Booker says: “Ministers (in the UK) were only too aware that the government had forced the farmers to use these chemicals which its own Veterinary Medicines Directorate had licensed as safe to use. Although the government quietly dropped the compulsory use of OPs for dipping without explanation, a succession of Tory and Labour ministers refused to accept publicly that repeated exposure to them could cause irreparable damage – because, it seemed, any public admission that they were as dangerous as the HSE had found them to be, might trigger off a major scandal resulting in tens of millions of pounds of compensation claims.”
Booker concludes by saying: “However shocking was the injury done to all those thousands of crippled victims, the part played by the ministers and lawyers who aided and abetted that cover-up, made it even more so.”
In a separate article on the same ST page headed ‘Top scientists start to examine fiddled global warming figures’, Booker has another swipe at the ‘experts’ who, he says, have ‘adjusted’ data to support their claims about so-called climate change.
He says that so strong is the evidence that ‘fiddling with figures’ calls for a proper investigation, that his articles (some of which I quoted from before) have now brought a heavyweight response.
He says: “The Global Warming Policy Foundation has enlisted an international team of five distinguished scientists to carry out a full inquiry into just how far these manipulations of the data may have distorted our picture of what is really happening to global temperatures.
“But only when the full picture is in will it be possible to see just how far the scare over global warming has been driven by manipulation of figures accepted by politicians who shape our energy policy and much else besides. If the panel’s findings eventually confirm what we have seen so far, this really will be the ‘smoking gun’ in a scandal the scale and significance of which, for all of us, can scarcely be exaggerated.”
Not to be outdone, Robin Page in his column in the Daily Telegraph (April 25) points the finger at the silly billies who have been releasing red kites, buzzards and other raptors and predators into an overcrowded environment.
He says: “To help save the song thrush we have simply moved jackdaws along. So why can’t the same method be used on red kites and buzzards where their burgeoning populations are causing problems with lapwings, skylarks, stone curlew chicks and leverets? Indeed some people believe they may be impacting on cuckoos.
“Since 1970 the number of red kites has increased by 805 per cent and buzzards by 438 per cent. Before the various releases were made were any Environmental Impact Assessments undertaken? And since the increase in their populations, has any work been done on the adverse impact on other species?”
The answer, I would think, is that nothing has been done but, in the eyes of the killer lovers, that is all right so long as buzzards, red kites, peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks are growing fat on the small, defenceless species that those in the countryside love.
The answer, as I wrote before, is that those releasing killers, should take ownership of them and be liable to pay compensation for any harm they may cause.
Craigmore will be open on bank holiday Monday, May 4 and Monday, May 25. At the week-end Sandy Doreen had trout to 5lb and Pawal Sinica 15 to 4lb.
Other catches were: Peter McIlwaine, 13; Martin Foster, 12 to 5lb; James Harper,12 ; Brian Bigmore and Neil Gray, 10 to 5lb; Simon Kinley, 11; Jim Magill, 10; Ian Jones, 19 to 7lb; Jim McKeown, 15 to 5lb; Raymond Harvey, nine to 5lb; Billy and Joe Stitt, nine; Paul Stitt, eight; Jim Patterson, 10; Jim Simpson, Tommy Wharry, Maurice Anderson an d Tommy Spence, nine; Billy Todd, eight; Billy Kirk. 6lb; Craig Martin, 5lb 10 oz; William Paddock, 5lb; Robert Weir,5lb; Robert Cairns, nine to 8lb; Alan Walker, seven to 5lb 10 oz.
Craigmore will be doing a tag boost over the next four weeks and releasing two tagged fish each week. Entry fee will be £1 with each tagged fish worth £25. Only one tag can be won per angler per week.