Half of our badgers could be killed before 2026 if Government does not stop wiping them out before culling programme officially ends, campaigners warn

Badger photo by Sally Langstaff under creative commons

The Daily Mail reports more than half of England’s badgers will be killed if the Government does not stop culling before the programme’s official end in 2026, campaign groups warned last night.

The Government confirmed yesterday that it will not issue new licences for culling badgers to tackle tuberculosis in cattle after 2022. Culling will eventually cease entirely when licences expire in 2026.

Since the controversial badger cull started in 2013, to control bovine tuberculosis, more than 140,000 badgers have been shot.

Count bug splats on cars to study insect decline, UK drivers urged

The Guardian, and iNNewsreport a new app that tracks bug splats on car number plates will enable UK citizen scientists to help shed light on the worrying decline of insects.

Older drivers will remember scrubbing large numbers of splatted insects from windscreens after journeys in past decades. But a 2019 study that analysed car registration plates after trips in Kent found a 50% fall in splatted bugs compared with 2004.

The charity Buglife has now launched the free Bugs Matter app to enable people to collect valuable data. Users start by cleaning their number plate before a journey, which is then tracked by the app to collect location and time data.

Community group saves wildlife-rich rare chalk grassland by buying it

Pewley Down

iNEWS reports a community group has saved wildlife-rich rare chalk grassland in the North Downs – home to nesting skylarks, orchids and wild thyme – by buying it.

Residents sprang into action when the 37.5-acre Pewley Down Fields in Guildford, Surrey, went up for sale. They quickly put a bid together and with the help of Surrey Wildlife Trust a new nature reserve will now be created to preserve the land in perpetuity for future generations. 

Ministers accused of hypocrisy over ‘toothless’ environment bill

The Guardian reports Ministers have been accused of hypocrisy in bringing forward a “toothless” environment bill that will fail to protect against developers concreting over valuable green space, lack provisions for improving air quality, and contain what campaigners said were inadequate protections for wildlife.

The government voted down amendments to its flagship environment bill on Wednesday that would have strengthened the powers of a watchdog, given local communities more say over planning and development, and expanded protections for habitats.

Climate crisis could trigger sewage surge in English rivers, MPs told

The Guardian reports there will be a rise in the scale of sewage discharge into rivers and waterways due to extreme weather events as a result of the climate crisis, MPs have been told.

Nature-based solutions must be a top priority for the government and the water regulator, Ofwat, when it comes to water companies’ investment over the coming decades, MPs heard. By 2050, the English sewerage system would face a 55% increase in water flowing through the network as a result of increased urbanisation and the removal of natural surfaces, which help water drain away.

Your bird feeder could be messing with the natural pecking order

Eurasian blue tit photo by Shantanu Dutta under creative commons

The TimesiNews, and Daily Mail report the peanuts may be supplied with the best of intentions but your bird feeder could be wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem. A study suggests that the spoils of bird feeders are not being divided fairly, with blue tits outcompeting more timid woodland rivals.

By analysing the droppings of blue tits in Scotland, researchers could gauge the impact of feeding by humans. Nest box occupation increased from 25 per cent in areas where no human-provided food was present in birds’ guts to about 75 per cent where it was.

End mowing of road verges to create huge wildlife habitat, says UK study

The Guardian reports road verges cover 1.2% of Great Britain, an area the size of Dorset, and could be used to grow wildflower meadows and create habitat for wildlife, a new study says. In a report outlining the scale of road verges in England, Scotland and Wales, researchers from the University of Exeter used Google Earth and Google Street View to estimate that verges account for about 1,000 sq miles (2,579 sq km) of the UK’s land.

According to the report, up to 707 sq km (27.47%) of road verges are short, frequently mown grassland. The rest includes 1,062 sq km (40.87%) of regular grassland, while 480 sq km (18.73%) is woodland, and 272 sq km (10.66%) is scrub.

How schools are turning the tide on nature deprivation

BBC News reports details the Nature Friendly School scheme which aims to make schools grounds greener and wilder and is a partnership between The Wildlife Trusts, YoungMinds and other organisations.

The project trains teachers to deliver outdoor classes, inspiring their pupils to learn more about environmental challenges and the natural world, and encouraging teamwork, social skills, confidence and creativity.

Nature Friendly Schools has already worked with 90 schools in areas with high levels of social deprivation, giving thousands of pupils the opportunity to learn and play in nature. The leaders hope to expand the programme this year to help children find solace in nature after the hardships of lockdowns.  

Surrey Wildlife Aid Foundation overrun with orphaned ducklings has busiest spring in 40 years

Photo of ducklings by Matt Gibson under creative commons

Surrey Live reports orphaned ducklings have overrun a Surrey wildlife charity which is now calling for donations to help it feed and care for the fluffy youngsters.

Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) in Leatherhead has received scores of calls from concerned members of the public in the past month who have encountered families of ducklings apparently abandoned by parents or orphaned – it is currently caring for more than 75 and the numbers are continuing to rise.