Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
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Wednesday, 15 January 2014
SQUIRRELS, THE LAW AND J.P.s
I have in the past posted of the RSPCA and the terrier like manner in which it has harried those who have the temerity to oppose its legal zealots. Its campaign against those who have adapted their fox hunting procedures to be within the legal requirements imposed upon them are still subject themselves to legal pursuit. Last year a pensioner pleaded guilty to killing a squirrel, not of the protected red variety but a common grey pest which is related to the rat and almost as destructive, and subsequent to a pre sentence report presented to court, magistrates fined the defendant £140 and banned him from trapping squirrels for ten years. It is unclear whether the case was prosecuted by the organisation which arguably gives the impression that on occasion it cares for animals more than humans or the CPS. Be that as it may the legal question for the bench was the humaneness or otherwise of the animal`s dispatch from this world.
These animals are good for nothing except extermination, fur gloves or roadkill for American survivalists. They do no good at all in suburban gardens. Indeed they destroy plants, flowers and damage other vegetation. They can be dangerous. They invade lofts. If they enter homes seeking food they can terrify babies and toddlers or worse. Even in parks they can be vicious. The standard method of killing them is with a .22 air rifle after trapping. Squirrels have a thick hide and care must be shown in targeting the cranium which is easier said than done. I am indeed concerned about the findings in this case. I must admit to having a vested interest in this topic having suffered house invasion many years ago by one of those creatures which I eventually dispatched with an air rifle pellet to said cranium. I am not the first magistrate to be so troubled by this bushy tailed rat. A J.P. colleague who lives in Hartlepool recently had a worse experience than I.
A most authoritative document on this topic is “Review of methods of humane destruction of grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis)” published in 2009 by Scottish National Heritage. If readers have neither the time nor the inclination to read the whole paper turn to para 3.1.2 and read from there.