Animal Rights, Animal Welfare & Cruel Sports

There are a number of great campaigns underway to ensure that we are talking about animal welfare and the status of cruel sports in the run up to the General Election in May 2015.  I am currently aware of at least three, from Compassion in World Farming, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the League Against Cruel Sports.

I fully support all three of these campaigns, their requests are all very reasonable, well thought out and quite clearly the right thing to do in our modern, humane society. 

The League Against Cruel Sports outlines five calls:

1. To defend and strengthen the Hunting Act
2. To ban the use of snares
3. To conduct an independent inquiry into the commercial shooting industry
4. To take tough action to deal with illegal dog fighting
5. To strengthen protection for racing greyhounds

Further Information from the League Against Cruel Sports can be found here.

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) have asked all candidates to declare their stance on a number of key issues core to what IFAW stand for.  I completely agree with IFAW that:

Improving the welfare of animals is a top priority.

The UK should continue to lead international efforts to combat the illegal trade in endangered wildlife and wildlife products.

Commercial whaling should end.

The Hunting Act should remain in place.

Initiatives to better protect native wildlife species should be supported.

Further Information from the IFAW General Election campaign (and which other candidates agree with IFAW) can be found here.

The campaign from Compassion in World Farming is rather more in-depth and explicit.  I have been following Compassion in World Farming for many years and fully support everything they request in their charter (below).  I will campaign in parliament for it to be adopted 100%, and for us to come up with a sensible plan to make it become a reality from the less than ideal situation we have today.

I grew up in a farming village on the edge of the New Forest and have been inside a battery chicken house; it was horrendous.  But it wasn’t until I studied factory farming at Totton College that I realised just how widespread this miserable treatment of animals, especially pigs, is in our food production industry.  At that point I became vegetarian and vowed never to eat another battery egg.  I have kept to that since 1997.

We need to introduce high standards of farm animal welfare. It is time to phase out production that uses cages and crates as they thwart the basic instincts of many animals to roam, forage and explore.

Animals should be kept in outdoor systems or, if they are housed, they should be kept in large barns with ample space, plenty of straw, natural light and effective ventilation. Genetic selection for fast growth or high yields should be avoided if this results in compromised welfare and systems should not be used if they require mutilations.

Across Europe, around 700 million farm animals (hens, sows, rabbits, ducks and quail) spend some or all of their life confined in cramped, often barren cages.

Cages are a form of inescapable and extreme confinement which renders an animal dependent solely on its keeper for food and water, with minimal comfort, and deprives an animal of autonomy, severely restricting their ability to meet essential behavioural, physical and psychological needs.

It is for these reasons that cages should be consigned to the history books and food production should be developed using extensive, outdoor and cage free systems.

Sustainable farming that nourishes our health, the environment and promotes higher animal welfare must become the rule, not the exception.

Further information on Compassion in World Farming’s Charter can be found here: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter and here: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/charter-briefing-notes

I am similarly against industrial scale fishing, which is also both unsustainable and damaging to the environment and to the future of smaller, more environmentally responsible fishing operations (see Hugh’s fish fight from celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall).

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the barbaric practise of culling badgers as an attempted method of reducing the risk of badgers transferring tuberculosis to cattle.  I say attempted because it is not very successful and is not supported by scientific evidence.  There is an alternative method, involving badger vaccination, which could be used instead, and would not require the widespread culling of wildlife.

For more information on the campaign against badger culling, please see here.

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