May 21, 2009
Tyntesfield has always been a shooting
estate to some degree, with a small private shoot for the Gibbs family and
friends. In my view it was looked after very well by the game keeper who had a
sympathetic view of control that fitted in well with conservation on the whole.
In fact for such a gruff poker faced Yorkshire man he was very good indeed.
Unfortunately for all of us, when the Trust took over the estate, they didn’t
want some one with an immense wealth of knowledge, they thought they knew better
and he was not employed.
My first encounter with the lack of knowledge the Trust had about game
keeping was when the property manager inquired if I was interested in continuing
the vermin control. I had experience in this field and recently returned to
college to gain qualifications in game keeping.
It was when I was asked if I had a shot gun to control the deer that I became
concerned over the methods the National Trust take in such tasks. I politely
informed her that the approved method is with firearms on a larger scale that
kills them outright, and as we don’t have a problem with deer there’s no
At this she replied “if you don’t have a shot gun the Trust would buy you one
but they need controlling”. At this I had to suppress myself from asking for a
flick knife and knuckle dusters so I could take care of the squirrels at the
same time. The overall discussion did not go well and a few days later I was
informed that the approved National Trust hit man would be doing the work
The first night the contractors came they both went out and did a count of
deer. A massive number of five deer was counted by a team of 6 men in the 180
acres of land that remained of Tyntesfield. It was one more than I counted but
as I had already told her not a worrying amount to start shooting them.
Just shortly after that, the hit squad came in and wiped out the rabbit
population in just a couple of evenings, along with the foxes and anything else
in the way.
Meanwhile, in the trees overlooking the cull was nesting Buzzards that for
years had relied on the rabbits for food that was being gunned down all around
them. Since then most have taken up residence nearer to McDonald’s as they could
see the writing on the wall.
It was one evening while I was on a walk in the woods that I came across two
4x4s parked on a neighbours land. Two men could be seen walking into their woods
with guns. As we had received a warning of poachers in the area, I immediately
phoned the property manager and asked several times could it be our contractors
before we call the police.
I was given a lecture over the phone just how professionally things were now
done under her management and not to question it but to call the police.
Well when the police turned up along with the land owners who were very
anti-hunting, along with several other concerned neighbours, the poachers turned
out to be the highly skilled contractors that the National Trust had employed to
manage the deer and reduce the poaching.
It was quite a party that went on for some hours, and it was only by the
grace of God that the land owners decided not to press charges as a conviction
would have meant no fire arms licence. To see grown men with no alternative but
to chase deer with base ball bats would have taken the professional edge off of
I did have some feed back on the events of the night from the property
manager and she cross examined me very vigorously on why I was there. I
explained that I often watch the badgers and survey the owl population to which
she replied, you will have to do these things in the day as you are banned from
the woods at night because it is too dangerous. It was at this point I realised
she needed to get out more and informed her I would be on the look out for
insomniac nocturnal creatures. She rose up to her full height and proclaimed I
was being insubordinate.
I asked to see a copy of the damage impact assessment that is carried out by
the appropriate manager ( property manager) prior to all cull management. She
looked dumb founded and asked what that was. I then informed her of the full
procedures she should have taken. I think this was the point that the writing
was on the wall for me as I left her garbling incompetently and stamping her
feet up and down as witnessed by the house manager that was soon after dismissed
from the National Trust.
My next story is how and why the National Trust flayed all the hedges during
nesting season, even bringing in youth offenders to participate while watched by
Fiona Reynolds and two major people who donate cash.
My fight against the Trust to stop them bulldozing four young blackbird
chicks in a nest will be accompanied by Emails photographs.
PS: please can some one tell Claire from HR I’ve now left the National Trust
so don’t bother getting back to me on the important questions I asked six months