Electric fences are a cruel threat to our beloved wildlife

How do you define cruelty to animals? Would that include electrocuting badgers by dipping cotton in honey and then wrapping it around 6000 volt wires? It is not the action of a rogue individual. This is a practice detailed in an RSPB Electric Fencing Manual. The association presents itself on social networks as “Nature’s Voice”. Yet with the RSPB, nature cries out in agony.

The manual describes how caretakers can care for hedgehogs, otters, badgers, foxes and even cats. He explains how to use irresistibly tasty “bait” to attract wild animals and lick live wires. For badgers, the manual says staff should soak cotton in “honey, syrup, peanut butter or molasses.” For foxes, he describes using “drips… Sunday roast or wrapping strips of bacon around the strings… to the height of a fox’s nose.” “

The RSPB told the Telegraph that fencing baiting is not a practice it uses on its reserves and has removed the manual from its website. But if the instructions were not meant to be followed, why was the document produced?

The RSPB manual explains that the electric shock from fences must be strong enough to create “a big spark” and “to” burn “the grass”. Imagine the injuries these sparks cause to the sensitive tongues of innocent animals. The document also explains how fences kill some creatures: “Hedgehogs are also prone to electrocution… as they tend to curl into a ball when shocked rather than walk away. He says “frogs have died from multiple shocks” and explains how deer get tangled in electric fences. Think about the suffering.

Leaving aside the issue of baiting electric fences, why is the RSPB putting miles around its reserves at great cost to its members who unwittingly pay for this cruelty? This is to protect nesting birds on the ground. They only thrive when protected from animals that eat their eggs. Yet the RSPB’s electric fences are not only barbaric but clumsy. His manual explains how chicks are separated from their parents by fences and how adult birds fly over them.

If the RSPB decides they want to prioritize curlews over foxes, the nicest approach is to shoot the fox. Don’t let him starve by blocking him from his food. Yet the RSPB hates shooting foxes. He apparently has no qualms about electrocuting them.

This is exactly the type of cruelty that the government is determined to end with its animal sensitivity bill. I sent the RSPB document to George Eustice asking him to make a statement.

His department has zero tolerance for the use of electricity on certain animals. For example, even though scientists have found that electronic collar training is very effective in deterring dogs from ravaging sheep, Defra wants to ban devices claiming they could traumatize dogs.

These electronic collars produce 5 mJ of power. Yet the RSPB manual explains how electric fences must deliver 10,000 mJ to “burn” the grass. It’s 2,000 times more powerful. So, to maintain its credibility, the Defra must ban these cruel fences – or allow harmless dog collars to protect sheep.

My attorneys produced a brief for Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, describing which laws may have been broken. Whatever it decides, the court of public opinion will be appalled by this manual.

My final challenge concerns the leadership of the RSPB. This document was deliberate. It was probably approved by the highest officials of the RSPB. So who will take responsibility for it? Who will resign in the face of this appalling inhumanity towards the animals that the founders of the RSPB promised to protect?

As always, I want to listen to the Telegraph readership. Email me at [email protected] about this and other animal welfare issues that concern you.

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About Annie Baxley

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