Oct 042012
 

By Suzanne Kelly. 

Crime involving animals of all kinds, domestic, farm and wild, is on the increase throughout the UK.  There are a wide range of illegal, violent acts taking place up and down the country.  But there are things we can do to help stem the tide.
The details are upsetting.  Horses have been attacked in Cornwall recently, and wildlife crime has been reported in the Scottish Borders.

A golden eagle was killed recently in our own area. It probably suffered for days in an illegal trap.

Conviction is almost always a difficult business.  Thankfully, in Aberdeenshire, the successful prosecution of the Reid Brothers led to the exposure and end of a violent, vicious dog-fighting ring.  These people tortured the unfortunate animals, and for their pleasure filmed the dogfights.

Money is the main motivator. Bets on dogs, though highly illegal, are still making money for those involved.  The dogs are treated inhumanely from birth, usually born to a mother who is kept perpetually pregnant then simply disposed of when worn out.

Even worse, the enjoyment of cruelty is why some people get involved in this crime.

Here is a link to the September 2011 STV story on the Reid Brothers’ conviction. It is distressing.
http://news.stv.tv/north/271235-two-barbaric-brothers-jailed-for-dog-fighting/

But it is also an encouraging story.  The Courts took this case very seriously and imposed custodial sentences on the Reids, who had 6 dogs being trained for fighting.  The ring was exposed, the dogs which the Reids had were rescued, and awareness was raised.

The Scottish SPCA’s undercover work helped bring about this conviction. It believes that there are others in our area involved in dog-fighting, and that it is still going on. There are reports that fighting might be taking place in Torry and Kincorth.

How to help

If a dog fight is about to take place or is going on:  it is very rare that the authorities get a lead like this, but it happens. Call the police emergency number – 999, or call the Scottish SPCA hotline – 0800 999 4000.

John Robins of the Animal Concern Advice Line said;

“People involved in dog fighting can be extremely dangerous. Dog fighting is a very serious crime and anyone who stumbles across a dog fight or has possible evidence of dog fighting should not try to intervene but immediately dial 999 and alert the police.”

If you know anything about dog fighting: please get in touch anonymously with the police, the Scottish SPCA, and/or Crimestoppers.  You can help save innocent animals from torture.  Dogs do not naturally wish to fight each other, and if you knew the barbaric things done to these animals to make them into fighters, you would want it ended.

Many people involved in acts of animal cruelty have gone on to harm people when the thrill from animal cruelty is no longer enough. This interest in hurting animals escalating to violence against people is not uncommon in killers and serial killers.

If you have seen any animals mistreated:  please get in touch with the authorities as above, anonymously if you wish.  The people who can help need as much information as they can get.

If you have any suspicions. Dogs that have obvious signs of injuries, either bodily or facial may be involved in dog fighting.  If you have any suspicions it is important that you bring them to the Scottish SPCA’s attention.  Either they can rule out cruelty and dog fighting, or they can start to build a pattern, and hopefully rescue animals from further cruelty.

There will be a leafleting campaign taking place shortly in the south of the city.  If you wish to get involved, get in touch.

Anyone who is not comfortable calling the Scottish SPCA, the police, or Crimestoppers can send an email , for non-urgent matters such as suspected dog fighting, to stop.dogfights@yahoo.co.ukYou can also write to that email address to go on an anonymous mailing list. No one else will get your details.

PS:  it is also Staffie Awareness  Week.  Staffordshire terriers are lovely animals, and deserve the same treatment and kindness as any other dog breed.

Contacts.

Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Hotline 0800 999 4000; website  http://www.scottishspca.org/

Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL)
John F. Robins, Secretary, c/o Animal Concern,
Post Office Box 5178, Dumbarton G82 5YJ.
Tel 01389-841111.,
Mobile: 07721-605521. Fax: 0870-7060327.
Website http://adviceaboutanimals.info

Grampian Police
Emergencies:  999.  Non-emergency number:  0845 600 5700.

Crimestoppers
Tel.  0800 555 111

Email for any leads
stop.dogfights@yahoo.co.uk

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Mar 252012
 

Aberdeen City Council has been warned today that its staff could face criminal prosecution for its activities on Tullos Hill.  Animal Concern’s John Robins issued a press release explaining all, and Aberdeen Voice brings you this latest development in the ongoing Tullos Hill saga.

 

Aberdeen City Council (ACC) has been warned that staff and volunteers involved in the controversial Tree for Every Citizen project could face prosecution under wildlife crime laws.

It is believed workers have started clearing gorse and shrubs on Tullos Hill in preparation for the planting of saplings which is due to start next month.

Gorse is a favoured nesting habitat for a variety of birds including members of the finch family. It is a criminal offence to disturb or destroy active nests or to harm eggs or chicks.

John Robins of Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL) has asked the Wildlife Crime Officer at Grampian Police to investigate the situation with a view to arresting anyone found to have broken wildlife protection laws. The SSPCA and RSPB have also been asked to intervene. ACAL have warned ACC that their staff and volunteers could be prosecuted for destroying birds’ nests and they have asked the Council to suspend all work on Tullos Hill until September.

John Robins states:

“This tree planting scheme has gone from insane to criminally insane. Who in their right mind orders clearance of nest sites just at the time when song birds are nesting and then sends in an army of tree planters when ground nesting birds are trying to raise their young?

“This latest development suggests that the people behind this project really do not have a clue about what they are doing.  ACC claim their Tree for Every Citizen project will provide wildlife habitat. All I can see is habitat destruction and disruption at the very worst time of year for that to happen. Will it take a criminal prosecution before ACC see sense?”

Gavin Lindsay, Wildlife Crime Officer at Grampian Police, has agreed to speak to Aberdeen City Council about possible breaches in wildlife protection laws.  The SSPCA have asked their Aberdeen inspectorate to look into the matter. We await a response from RSPB Scotland.

The Council have put up temporary fencing around and on Tullos Hill. These have yellow hazard warning signs stating “Warning Forestry Operations. Please obey all signs and restrictions.”

A copy of the warning sent to the ACC Chief Exec and the Councillor behind the tree planting project is as follows:-

 

Dear Ms Watts and Councillor Malone,

I note that Aberdeen City Council has announced its intention to commence ground preparation work and the planting of saplings on Tullos Hill. I understand that this work will involve the removal of bracken and gorse and that clearance of these plants may already have started.

Given the long period of unseasonably mild weather you’ve had in the Aberdeen area over the last few weeks it is highly likely that birds will be nesting early and there will be nests with eggs and chicks in the gorse and on the ground at Tullos Hill. Gorse, which provides prickly protection for nesting birds, is a favoured nesting habitat for finches such as Twite, Chaffinch, Linnet, Redpoll and others.  From photographs and descriptions of the terrain on Tullos Hill I expect there are also a fair number of native ground nesting birds such as Lapwing, Curlew, Skylark and perhaps Ring Ouzel nesting in the area.

Yesterday we had a report that someone has heard grouse calling on the hill so it is likely that grouse will be nesting there too. There will no doubt be many pheasant breeding on the hill as well.

As you are probably aware it is a criminal offence to disturb or destroy birds’ nests containing eggs or chicks. It is likely that it would be individual employees or volunteers who would be prosecuted should wildlife protection laws be breached while the gorse and bracken is removed or while saplings are being planted.

I ask Aberdeen City Council to suspend all activities on Tullos Hill until September to avoid disturbing or destroying any active nests. I have notified the Grampian Police Wildlife Crime Unit, RSPB and the SSPCA of the situation.

Yours sincerely,

John F. Robins, Secretary to ACAL

 

Mar 202012
 

With thanks to John F. Robins, Secretary, Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL).

 

Three Community Councils representing neighbourhoods close to Tullos Hill have issued a last minute appeal asking Aberdeen City Council to call off the deer cull planned for Tullos Hill.
In a strongly worded open letter the Community Councils, which represent over 25,000 Aberdonians, accuse the City Council of using underhand tactics to get backing to plant trees on Tullos Hill as part of their Tree for Every Citizen initiative.

They claim that,

“the public consultation was seriously flawed and made no mention of a deer cull. Community Councils and the general public were given incomplete information, allowing ACC’s intention to cull to remain unchallenged”. 

When the intention to kill the resident roe deer eventually became public knowledge there was an outcry with many Aberdonians telling the City Council that if the Tree for Every Citizen project meant killing the deer they did not want any trees planted for them. The Community Councils say the City Council dismissed local public opinion and have pleaded with the Council to change their mind at the eleventh hour and to,

“Listen to the voices of the people who elected you, cancel the cull and let the Tullos Hill deer live”.

For over a year Animal Concern Advice Line (ACAL) has been supporting local campaigners in the battle to save the Tullos Hill roe deer. John Robins of ACAL welcomed the intervention of the Community Councils. He states;

“This is a severe embarrassment to Aberdeen City Council.

“They can no longer claim that opposition to the deer cull is coming from outwith Aberdeen. Three Community Councils representing over 25,000 Aberdonians have made it perfectly clear that they want this cull stopped. On Sunday of this week the CEO of the National Trust for Scotland admitted on national television that they had made a mistake by undertaking a mass cull of deer on the Mar Lodge Estate. 

“The very same advisors who were behind that cull are the people advising Aberdeen City Council to kill the deer on Tullos Hill. There is still time for Aberdeen City Council to avoid making that same mistake. All they have to do is respect the wishes of the people who elected them and call off the cull.”

  •  The Open Letter signed by Nigg, Torry and, Kincorth & Leggart Community Councils can be viewed here.
Nov 142011
 

Controversial plans to plant 89,000 trees on Tullos Hill backed by Aberdeen City Council are under fire from the public, community councils, animal charities and experts. A new initiative to preserve this crucial wildlife habitat as meadowland was launched today by Councillor Neil Cooney and campaigner Suzanne Kelly.

The Tullos Hill Roe Deer, approximately 30 in number, have survived on the Hill for over 30 years but will face years of culling if the tree scheme goes ahead.  The deer normally live for 6 to 7 years.

This cull would cost the taxpayer approximately £8,000 over 2010-11, £14,000 over the following 4 years, according to Aberdeen City Council.

The scheme has already seen the City hand back £43,800 of grant money, as the previous planting failed for a number of reasons.

Reports show that the wrong size tree guards were used (120cm size had been recommended; 90cm had been used instead) and that soil issues and weeds were to blame in part for the failure.  The deer were not the only factor in the tree failure, but the council stresses the need to use the ‘most economical’ means to plant the trees. 

Vandalism has hit planting sites as well.

Some members of the Council now claim that  culling is a normal part of land management and is required – this claim had not been made prior to the tree planting scheme as far as any research can demonstrate.  The deer are not starving or suffering, and with 30 deer on the hill and 89,000 saplings proposed, humane methods of having tree and deer are possible, according to experts.

The council omitted mention of the deer cull from its public consultation which closed in January 2011, although this document went into detail about managing rabbits by means of fences.  The council also omitted to say the planting would require 2-3 years of weed killer being sprayed on the hill.

The cost of this spraying, the effects on the existing wildflowers, animals and the public (housing, a school and factories are nearby) has never been fully explained.  Tullos Hill also has soil issues  and there are dozens of small archaeological remains which would be threatened or could even be destroyed by the tree planting.

After the cull plan was discovered and made public, the Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals branded the move ‘abhorrent and absurd’, although the Society recognises the needs for deer culls for reasons of animal welfare.

However, the idea to kill deer for this scheme was strongly condemned by the Scottish SPCA and other animal welfare organisations including Animal Concern.

A move was made to ask the public for money to avoid the cull by the City’s Housing & Environment Committee.
This move was called ‘blackmail’ by citizens and animal charities.  Dame Anne Begg, MP, wrote at the time of the move saying that to ask the public for £225,000 to avoid the cull was “an appalling attempt to fudge their (the Housing Committee cull proponents’) responsibility.”

Suzanne Kelly, campaigner against the tree planting and the cull said,

“We have a beautiful meadow filled with plants and animals – it is a biodiversity haven.  Nearby meadowlands at Cove are being given over for housing and development, and lands at Loirston which are grass and meadow will be turned into a football stadium. Aberdeen stands to lose a huge portion of its meadows south of the city centre, and yet wants to turn this meadow ecosystem into a forest. 

“Thousands of concerned residents objected to the tree scheme by letter and petition once the cull was made public – and that was before we knew about the returned grant money and the weed killer.  Four community councils are on record as opposing the scheme representing thousands more people.  (Torry Community Council voted unanimously to condemn the cull and the scheme – but their letter somehow never reached the City). 

“Yet the City refuses to listen.  The City has been saying the scheme is ‘cost neutral.’  It now emerges that the application is not even finalised, and £43,800 in grant money had to be paid back for a previous failed planting on Tullos.  This is hardly ‘cost neutral’ – in fact, calling this scheme ‘cost neutral’ seems positively misleading 

“We hope this alternative – a meadowland – will capture the public’s imagination. In fact, the idea has come up again and again from the many people getting in touch – it is really a public initiative.   The hill can be left as it is or perhaps enhanced with more wildflowers and the future of the deer and other animals can be ensured. 

“The deer are most certainly not starving as some in the City would claim.  In fact, some nearby residents tell me the deer are nearly tame.  Meddling in the Hill’s ecology has not worked in the past, and our cash-strapped Council should just end their planting scheme forthwith.”

Councillor Neil Cooney asked crucial questions and presented facts previously omitted at the most recent Aberdeen City Housing & Environment Committee meeting held this month.  Councillor Cooney said :

“Tullos Hill offers some of the finest views over the city. You don’t block out viewpoints by planting trees to hide the view. Nature created Tullos Hill. It is an area rich in wildlife, it is an important archaeological site and there are 4 important cairns there that were designed to be seen from each other and to dominate the landscape.

“It would make a lovely meadowland. Meadows are our most threatened habitats. Tullos Hill already supports fragile wild flower species, the Dames Violets are particularly spectacular when in bloom. Meadows also play a key role in carbon capture. We have a precious natural asset at Tullos Hill, if we destroy in now we can never reclaim it again. We have a duty to the next generation to preserve for them the environmental treasures that we enjoyed.

We can save money, save the deer, preserve the viewpoint, leave the archaeology open to enjoyment, and enhance Tullos Hill. This is far preferable to a dodgy tree planting project stained in blood.”

The value of this meadowlands scheme is supported by Saving our Magnificent Meadows, a campaign backed by Natural England, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and by Plantlife, as project host.

Ms Susan Kerry Bedell of Saving Our Magnificent Meadows had this to say:

“Wildflower meadows are the UK’s most threatened habitat. Since the 1930s, we have lost 98% (over three million hectares) of them across England and Wales and intense pressures continue to impact on remaining sites. There has been a similar scale of loss across the Scottish lowlands.

“These beautiful meadows are central to our national heritage. They are rich in wildlife, including many rare and threatened species, landscape character, folklore and archaeology, and they offer a range of ‘services’ to society, such as reducing flood risk. They are seen as vital to the long-term survival of bees, through whose pollination of crops much of our food production depends.

“Unless we act now to build a greater appreciation of remaining sites and promote sympathetic management, these ‘magnificent meadows’ and the rare plants and animals associated with them, will be lost forever”.

The Tullos Hill Meadowlands petition will launch online and by paper copy early the week commencing 14 November 2011.  Suzanne Kelly is confident that the tree planting scheme would be put aside for the more economical, beneficial meadowlands scheme.

“There is pressure on Government budgets right now, and throwing good money after bad – particularly on such an unpopular and destructive scheme – is simply illogical. 

“I await detailed budget information from the City, and a further press release will go into detail about how the City has handled this affair from start to finish.  With an election looming, I would urge those councillors who have supported this scheme to ask themselves if they really are doing the right thing by Tullos Hill and the electorate.”

Petition can be accessed here: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/tullos-hill-meadowlands-deer-park.html 

Further information on Saving Our Magnificent Meadows can be found at:
http://www.plantlife.org.uk/campaigns/saving_our_magnificent_meadows/ 

Further information and updates on Tullos Hill can be obtained by writing to:
tullosdeer@yahoo.co.uk

Contact Suzanne Kelly:
Email sgvk27@aol.com
Tel. 07752 356 455

Oct 012011
 

Three Cheers for Aberdeen City Council!  The Cull is on Hold!  Or so you might think if you glanced at a headline in tonight’s Evening Express. Voice’s Suzanne Kelly writes.

Several people on the anti-cull e-mailing lists have seen these headlines and written to say how happy they are the deer are safe.
‘Thank goodness, we can all forget about the cull and get back to business as usual’.

But what is the truth behind this and other media stories, and what is the truth? Conflicting information is  leaking out of Marischal College like a particularly leaky sieve.

There has been Council and anti-cull advertising.  There have been stories in the Press & Journal and the Evening Express, quoting experts and animal organisations.

The City has unnamed officers making statements, and city rangers apparently say that community councils are now OK with the cull.  It is time to look behind the headlines, read between the lines of the propaganda, and challenge what the city and rangers are saying.

First, let’s look at the last few weeks’ worth of media advertising.

In terms of advertising, you may have seen the anti-cull ads which were paid for by Animal Concern; these ran in the Evening Express and the Aberdeen Citizen. These quarter-page colour ads spelled out the logical reasons for opposing the cull.

Aberdeen City meanwhile took out a four-page, full colour supplement in the Aberdeen Citizen on 7 September. This for the average person would have cost at least a thousand pounds; it would be of interest to find out what the City spends on this and similar advertising in these service-cutting, low budget days.  This pull-out was to tell you how green and ecologically-minded the City is.

A portion of this supplement (approximately a third of a page in size) concerned the deer cull. Or as the City prefers to call it, the ‘City Woodlands.’ The ad says nothing about a deer cull, but calls on schools and small businesses to help plant the trees. The reader is directed to contact Ian Tallboys for further information. Businesses are told that the scheme can help:

“as part of their overall carbon management work. This will reduce the impact of their greenhouse gas emissions.”

The ad also says:

“The tree planting work will start in early 2012, ground and weather conditions permitting.”

And apparently:

 “planning of the second phase of tree for every citizen planting is almost complete, with funding applications in place.”

This is being tied to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the woodland sites are selected:

 “to provide a living, breathing legacy and tribute to her Majesty the Queen”

There is a very good reason I have bored my readers with these details. Firstly – we already have a ‘living, breathing legacy’ on Tullos Hill. We have a diverse ecosystem supporting a vast variety of flora and fauna. We are going to kill our existing living, breathing legacy because some politicians (Cllr Malone for one) decided to do so.

If you read this ad, you would know nothing about the proposed deer cull. You might also conclude that some substantial carbon offsetting benefits had been expected in order that the City felt comfortable telling businesses the scheme would benefit them in this regard. The calculations I have previously reported, the information from animal charities, and common sense tell us that the benefits are negligible.

For one thing, we are apparently having a 21,000 seat, glow-in-the-dark football stadium built fairly close to the south of Tullos Hill with houses, offices and 1400 parking spaces. I challenge anyone to tell me that the Tullos tree scheme will offset this stadium to any meaningful degree.

It seems straightforward:  planting will go ahead, as funding applications are in place and the City’s own advertising says that planting starts in early 2012.  However, up crops some issues with what I must loosely call ‘journalism’ appearing in the Press & Journal and Evening Express.

Going back to the earlier part of his week, P&J articles advised that protestors were going to stand in front of guns.  You will have seen quotes apparently from the British Deer Society and Chris Packham saying deer culls are necessary.  These experts and their support of culls appear alongside direct quotes from my asking that:

“the city must come up with a better plan and halt this senseless cull.”

If you read these articles quickly or casually, you could easily come to the conclusion that Chris Packham and the British Deer Society support this specific Tullos cull.  At the time of writing, I have made initial contact with Packham’s agent and the Deer Society:  neither were able to confirm they had been contacted on the specific Tullos case.

In fact, both parties were interested to hear what I had to say about the history of this whole scheme.  When they get back to me, I will update everyone.

I had also given the P&J a detailed press release spelling out the major flaws in the public consultation, the opinion of the Scottish SPCA, and so on.  Not a word of this side of the story appears in print.

So – when is the cull?

The police are not saying.  The City is however saying something different to everyone who asks.  Today, 1 October, the Press & Journal have asserted the cull may be delayed by two weeks for financial reasons.,  In the 29 September Press & Journal article:

“a [City Council] spokeswoman said that Saturday was the earliest date in the hunting season that deer management can take place.  However, any such activity would be subject to weather conditions and the availability of staff, she added.”

By the way, the City have said they don’t need to give anyone any notice and can put gunmen on the hill at will.  People who understand arms, guns and hunting tell me bullets can travel very considerable distances (this is not to mention the damage and sheer agony they cause to anything that is shot).  So, we will either be suddenly excluded from the hill for the gunman/men to get killing, or they will shoot with us present.

Neighbouring residents in homes and trailer parks were appalled  and worried when I spoke to them earlier this week.  Two men told me they feed the deer in winter, and the deer are veritably tame.  Another man told me a similar story over the phone; he is distraught that the deer he has watched and fed for decades are to be shot for non-existent trees.  No one I contacted has been warned of shooters coming to the hill at the time of writing.

But I digress.  Now we come to the glaring Evening Express headline of Friday 30 September:

DEER CULL OFF… FOR NOW”

The story on Page 5 has a headline fragment ‘move to protect trees’  which makes it seem as if this is the only way to protect trees.  We all by now know this is not the case.

Unfortunately, whoever the City’s ‘spokeswoman’ was on Thursday has been contradicted by a ‘city council spokesman’.  I guess it is true:  ’24 hours IS a long time in politics.’  The spokesman said:

“It takes time for money to filter through.  The long-term plan for tree-planting and the deer population haven’t changed.’  According to the Reporter, D Ewen, the spokesman added ‘..it could be months before the cull started.”

You might think an accurate headline would  have been ‘Deer Cull could be months away’ – not ‘Deer Cull Off – For Now’

If you are not yet sufficiently confused as to if/when a cull will take place and whether or not the tree scheme has the funding and business community support, someone else at the City has further muddied the waters.

A councillor has been told by yet another anonymous person that no cull will start until after the trees are planted, and that won’t happen for months.  Of all the oddball anonymous City leaks, this one takes some beating.  This calls for a brief diversion as to what we are actually looking at in terms of deer per tree sapling.

First, the Forestry Commission letter – sent by me to both the Press & Journal months ago, says the previous planting which cost the taxpayer £43,800 failed due to deer browing and weeds.  Yes, and weeds.  Somehow, the city and the P&J only mention the deer as being the cause of failure.  Weeding 89,000 trees sounds like quite a job to me – I do hope they have it all planned out.

The Evening Express do write:

“And the council had to hand over £43,831 paid out by Forestry commission Scotland after it failed to protect the trees in Tullos”

But other news reports seem to pin the entire failure of the previous planting on the deer alone.

The press inaccuracies go on and on.  For instance, ‘hundreds’ signed petitions according to the Evening Express.  The figure I supplied and can document is 2,400+, (not counting community councils which represent thousands more).

Speaking of community councils, one of our city rangers has put it about that the community councils are favouring the planting and the cull.  He surely must know this is inaccurate.  I will be seeking an immediate explanation and if necessary a retraction from him and an explanation – that’s if some of the community councils don’t beat me to it.  I have read many of the community council letters of protest to the city:  the community councils are not happy.

The press make little mention of how the deer cull was planned in November but left out of the phase 2 consultation (which in its mention of rabbit management made everyone I’ve spoken with assume rabbits were the only obstacle.  Why on earth mention rabbit fencing when you are planning to shoot deer – if not to get your consultation to sail past the public?).

If the City and the mainstream press wonder why people do not trust them to deliver facts about the cull now, they need look no further than this first initial manipulation.

The new maths

I pointed out the absurdity of the City’s need to cull the deer many times, including the initial plan for 40,000 trees.  This would have had the 29 deer all chomping some 1,379 tree saplings.  But the tree figure suddenly grew (no pun intended) to Ms Watt’s claim of some 89,000 trees.

This makes our tiny deer (which live 6-7 years on average) eating 3,068 trees each.  But the Council plan to kill some 9 deer this season (unless they have changed their collective mind again) – and continue killing for years to come.  Look at the figures again:  20 deer eating 40,000 trees is 2,000 trees per deer.  Those must be hungry deer, but they are as nothing compared to 20 deer eating 89,000 trees:  this calculates to a stag-gering (pun intended) 4,450 trees per deer on Tullos Hill.  Now this is food for thought.

But the press / city leaks don’t’ stop coming.

For some reason, most of the people telling us not to worry about any cull at present are anonymous. When the tree scheme was first announced, politicians and council officials were all very keen to get their names in the news – Aileen Malone said how great everything would be for one example.

If no funding is in place, then the council wasted some serious money on its full colour advertising in the Aberdeen Citizen earlier this month. It was saying how great the tree scheme was. The ad encouraged local schools to help plant trees, and told local businesses to help, implying that the C02 offsetting benefits could help with their C02 targets.

Why would they place this ad and ask for help and sponsorship if they didn’t have funding?

The hunting – or legal hunting – season is not a very long one; this further makes me question assertions that nothing will happen for months.  The initial SNH letter of November 2010 recommends careful ‘handling’ of the public’.  Do you have the feeling we’re being handled – and possibly mis-handled?

Who is telling the truth – the city spokeswoman who said the earliest the killing can start is Saturday 1 October, the City spokesman who indicated there is no funding in place and a cull won’t start soon, the claim that the cull is delayed by two weeks because of lack of funding, or the third anonymous city person who said the killing won’t start until the trees are planted?

I would dearly love to tell you the truth about the financials (have we hired a hunter?  What is the cost of the scheme from start to finish?  Why do some documents say there will be income from trees but other officials deny the same assertion?).  The fact is I asked for this information months ago – only for Valerie Watts to write back asking me to explain what I meant by ‘financials’. (in an email that mysteriously never got to me until I chased it about a month later).  I have looked for the truth and feel as if I have been deliberately misled.

When she finally answers me, I will update the position.

In any event, I would recommend everyone who cares about this issue to start spending as much time walking Tullos Hill as they can – wearing bright clothing obviously.  If you see a hunter, be safe and get away – but please then get in touch with the Aberdeen Voice straight away.

Please read news stories and listen to rumour with care. And please if you have time ask your community council and elected officials exactly what is going on.  I for one would absolutely love to know.