RAUK - Archived Forum - Could somebody cast a critical eye....

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Could somebody cast a critical eye....:

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Peter
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Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 06 May 2008

.....across the draught letter below please.  It has not yet been submitted.   I won`t describe the problem as the letter is fairly self explanatory.   Thanks in advance,

Peter

 

To whom it may concern,

With regards to the excavation work which was carried out recently at   ˘     ˘    , I write because I have been spending a considerable amount of time during the past few months walking the fringes of the    ˘    ˘       .

I have been walking the area to satisfy my own interest regarding the seasonal changes in the apparent bio diversity of the area. In addition, I have also been walking the area in order to identify a safe and viable Grass snake (Natrix natrix) colony at the request of Dr     "      "   of the Conservation Ecology Research team based at Swansea University. Dr  "      "   requires a colony to be identified in order for him to be able to choose a site at which to conduct a study of the species` diving behaviour. It is looking increasingly likely that the fringes of the    ˘    ˘         are ideally suited to the purposes of the study, as I have been regularly finding Grass snakes, as well as photographing and recording them.

One of the very first animals that I discovered back at the tail end of March was found in the area that has now been excavated. In total I have made sightings of at least two individual animals on three separate occasions at the lower section of the area that has since been excavated. I observed these animals over a period of three days after which they were no longer seen in the area. All of the individuals seen were quite apparently male animals. Such findings completely tie in with what is widely regarded as normal behaviour for the species on emergence from hibernation. Males are the first to emerge from hibernation, often being apparent a week or more before the first females appear. The freshly emerged males then tend to bask at the site of the hibernacula for a few days, after which they move away to their spring time residence to find food and then later a mate. Food in the grass snakeĂs case is more often than not amphibians or small fish, so the snakes head in the direction of a south facing bank or hedgerow within easy access of water such as the many areas of scrub in the vicinity of the various bodies of fresh water a few hundred meters away in other areas of the    ˘     ˘   . This would indicate to me that the area at which I spotted the yearĂs first early male grass snakes on the 30th of March was undoubtedly the site of at least one hibernacula. Hibernacula are, more often than not, communal. The fact that the animals were seen to be basking in the same area for the next few days only, also suggests that the area was indeed used for hibernation purposes.

On the 4th of April I began a six-day residential training course in Brecon and returned on the 11th. On returning to the      ˘      ˘        the following Sunday (13th of April), I was shocked to discover that a great deal of excavation work had been carried out. In particular, the area where I had observed the first grass snakes of the year had been noticeably disturbed. The area that included the hibernacula had been dug up in places and large quantities of soil had been flattened down on the area of the hibernacula. The dumped soil appeared to have been flattened with a JCB bucket or similar apparatus and had completely destroyed the hibernacula.

I then left the area that had been destroyed and walked to another part of the Park some 200 meters away. Here I discovered a male grass snake basking in a Bramble patch. Further on I was pleased to discover the first female of the year. Both of these animals were photographed and the date recorded. This meant that the females had begun to emerge. Unfortunately it also meant that any female grass snakes using the hibernacula at the area that had been excavated and flattened were very likely to have been destroyed along with it a few days earlier. I am not certain at which point the excavation work was carried out but it could only have been done sometime in between the 4th and the 13th of April.

Apart from the grass snakes observed, I have found common frog, common toad, smooth newt and slow worms previously on the area of scrubland that has been destroyed. I understand on making enquiries as to the purpose of the work that it was to prevent local youngsters from riding their scrambling bikes over the humps. Whilst potentially damaging, my previous observations indicate that the bike riders tend to at least stick to the same routes and therefore create a good deal less damage than that which the excavations have caused. The local amphibian and reptile life was certainly surviving on the spot quite satisfactorily before the excavation work in spite of the activities of the motorcyclists.

Surely if, for reasons which currently escape me, this work could not be avoided, whoever is responsible for the work should at the very least have consulted with the Bio diversity unit of the local authority before continuing regardless of the entirely inappropriate time of year to be doing so? It is after all, the reason for the unitĂs existence. They are in place to be consulted regarding such matters and to prevent absolute disasters such as the events described above from happening. There is no doubt within my mind that reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates and no doubt small mammal species have suffered heavy losses as a direct result of this work being carried out at so particularly delicate a time of year, namely, hibernation or pending emergence from hibernation.

I should like to be assured that action shall be taken to safeguard against any more destruction to the already very fragile population of wildlife in         "   ; ;           ; ;"      County.  Furthermore, I would hope that appropriate disciplinary proceedings are enforced, if for no other reason than to ensure that those responsible are made mindful of the consequences of such irresponsible actions for the communitiesĂ rapidly disappearing natural environment.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Peter39577.1409259259



Peter
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 06 May 2008

 

 

In addition to the above, I have photographs of animals spotted in the area that has since been destroyed that were taken merely days before the devastation occurred.  In addition, local children that have been digging and playing in the mess made by the excavations have unearthed numerous snake cadavers.  It is looking increasingly likely that I may be able to retreive some of these cadavers and will be following the lead up at the close of work today. 





Peter
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Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 06 May 2008
This should really have been posted in the   "Habitat Loss" forum if any of the moderators would care to move it.



Peter
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 06 May 2008

Two animals photographed close to the area that has been destroyed on the day that I discovered the devastation.  A male and a female I would say.

 





Suzi
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Joined: 06 Apr 2005
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Posted: 06 May 2008
Peter I would suggest condensing the letter quite a bit. There is probably too  much detail. Isn't the word biodiversity?
Suz
Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 07 May 2008

peter,

that's very sad news. the fact that kids have unearthed the remains of the colony is evidence of the hibernacula. How out of order is that!

This is not in Essex by any chance, is it?

Rob


RobV
Peter
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 07 May 2008

Thank you both. 

Yes Suzi you are correct regarding the spelling

I have had conflicting advice about whether to condense it or not, and now need to add a few sentences as more evidence is hopefully coming to light.  I`ll post the edit up before I submit it.

Robert,  several kids have found cadavers.  I am still trying to retrieve them however as some of the parents have understandably, thrown the childrens findings out with the rubbish.  I may be able to retrieve cadavers from one child in particular after talking with a concerned local resident.  In addition, this person has also spoken with all of the local kids and if any more are unearthed this person will be informed and then photograph them on site.

 

Fingers crossed that I will be able to get this evidence.  I am holding back from submitting the letter a few more days with the hope that this weekends activities by the local children may turn some more evidence up.   I wouldn`t like to say precisely where the location is just yet as I do not want to forewarn those responsible, but no, it`s not in Essex.

Peter39577.1401967593



David Bird
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
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Posted: 08 May 2008
Do you know what the reason of the excavation was, if it was for any development or a mineral extraction surely an offence has been clearly comitted. I do not think that the piece is too long as you have to put in all the possible details, you could also add that the animals are protected from killing and any development should have a previous survey and a rescue with mitigation to comply with the law. If is was emergency drainage work or something then they may have a defence. Send copy to your local Natural England office if it is in England, the county Ecologist, county wildlife trust and also the wildilfe officer of the local police force, make sure that all these are noted as c.c.on the letter to the owner, teneant or manager of the land.

David
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
David Bird
Forum Specialist
Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


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Posted: 08 May 2008
Sorry also try to get the naes of people by phoning around rather than sending to "whom it may concern" target the people that are responsible if they are not involved they will soon tell you and possibly tell you who is the correct person once they know you are taking this further with the authorities.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Peter
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Jan 2008
No. of posts: 260


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Posted: 09 May 2008

Thankyou for the advice David.

The reason given for the excavations was to prevent local youths riding their scrambler bikes through the area.   As mentioned in the letter, although not exactly a desireable state of affairs, the bikers had at least been sticking to their chosen routes and the reptiles were surviving in the area and hibernacula were left undisturbed.

My own suspicions that the real reason for the excavations was to provide drainage from the higher groud so as to extend the nearby golf course was confirmed to me by the park ranger at a meeting with him on tuesday.  The purpose of the meeting was to gain his official blessing to carry out the survey work which was granted.  I did ask rather casually at the end of the meeting what the purpose of the excavations were.  He rolled his eyes in dissaproval at the work and immediately replied "drainage for the golf course extention".  I had a colleague with me at the meeting also who can confirm this.

As regards the "To whom it may concern" introduction to the letter, I have since obtained the contact details of the Chief executive of the local authority and shall be delivering a copy of the letter to him also.

Peter39577.1352083333



- Could somebody cast a critical eye....

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