August 08, 2019

Police should prioritise animal welfare over protesters rights, says Countryside Alliance after activists accused of killing thousands of pheasant chicks
The police should prioritise animal welfare over the rights of protesters who storm farms and upset livestock, the Countryside Alliance has said, after activists were accused of causing the deaths of thousands of pheasant chicks. Direct action from animal rights campaigners, in which they storm farms, is on the rise, according to Tim Bonner, the chief executive of the organisation. Over the last year, activists have been accused of disturbing and even killing animals including piglets and turkeys. Last month, pheasant farmer Eloise McDonald, 23, found dead chicks with hundreds of birds huddled together after a raid on her family farm near Ashford, Kent. She wrote on Facebook: "Some lowlife scumbag so-called 'animal lovers' let out 20,000 of my birds, cut all the fencing, cut gas pipes, hundreds of week-old birds dead, gasping for water and starving!"  Ms McDonald estimated that around 3,000 birds had perished. Mr Bonner said that while hunt saboteurs have engaged in forms of direct action for decades, there is a new wave of vegan activists who storm farms in order to get pictures for social media and raise awareness of their cause. He told The Telegraph: "It's a relatively new phenomenon, the farm invasions isn't something we've seen much of before. "Another prominent one is vigils at abattoirs and I understand people take views and don't like animals being killed but all they are doing is increasing the amount of time they are spending on the vehicle and are making things more stressful. "Obviously people can protest about whatever they want, but when animal welfare is impacted that is not acceptable." While the Countryside Alliance had found that police took the game farm vandalism seriously, the chief executive said there are issues with farm invasions. He explained: "With the farm invasion sometimes the policing does tend to be slightly biased towards ensuring people can protest - but if those protests are having an impact on the welfare of animals, if suffering is caused by that "There's a level of cynicism among the hardcore extremists and among the new generation of activists there's a level of ignorance. Making your views known - there's nothing wrong with that - but make sure you demonstrate in a way that doesn't impact the welfare of animals."
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