The countryside is drowning under a tidal wave of litter, thoughtlessly discarded by people, with no consideration for what might happen to it or what effect it might have. The deluge of waste can’t be blamed on just one group of people and it would appear to be a national epidemic.

Alongside the everyday items that I find around the League’s wildlife sanctuaries, such as crisp packets, soft drinks bottles, beer cans and coffee cups, that are thrown in off the roads, there are the feed bags and silage wrap blown in from neighbouring farms and shoots, and an amazing number of balloons. I often wonder what the back story to these items could be. I dare say that the person who bought the red heart-shaped balloon did so with the best of intentions, but the recipient either didn’t want it or maybe they were overcome by the occasion and the balloon drifted away, only to end up on Baronsdown. It would have stayed there, gradually breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, or it could have been eaten by unsuspecting animals, had I not found it and removed it. On one occasion I found a balloon on Baronsdown that had started its journey at a hotel in Surrey. The label on the balloon offered a free spa treatment, but to add insult to injury the hotel refused to honour it.

Litter found at Barsondown Sanctuary

Talking of unwanted things in the countryside, the fox, hare and deer hunts are still hard at it and keeping an eye on them when they are near to the League’s wildlife sanctuaries takes up far too much of our time. Wild animals are being chased and killed ‘by accident’ or as part of ‘research’ six days a week by hunts that have no intention of abiding by the law, despite their protestations that they are law-abiding citizens. It is shocking that 14 years after the Hunting Act came into being it is still necessary for us to be out protecting the League’s sanctuaries from the hunts every week.

At this time of year, the staghunts are hunting young male red deer, which they refer to as spring stags. These adolescent males only have small antlers but hunting them is popular because they will run long distances and give the baying mob good ‘sport’. Meanwhile, the mature stags are in the process of losing their antlers and growing a new pair and so they aren’t hunted. Unfortunately, they still get no rest, as they are plagued by antler collectors who are intent on picking up a pair and will pursue the animals relentlessly, with little apparent concern for the welfare of the deer or people’s land.

Two stags at Baronsdown Sanctuary

Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of League supporters we can continue to provide some respite for wildlife, where it can go about its daily life without being harassed by humans. The League’s wildlife sanctuaries remain as beacons of hope that one day people will see the folly of their behaviour.