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Jason Endfield - Writer and Campaigner

In a world where the natural realm is under siege, Jason Endfield is taking a stand. Read about his inspiration, motivation, success, and how you can get involved!


Early Days...


I was very fortunate to have a primary school teacher who instilled in me a fascination with the natural world. Mrs Slater shared her enthusiasm for even the smallest discovery - a seashell, a butterfly, an autumn leaf - turning it into something magical and mysterious, and explaining how we are all essential pieces of a bigger picture, all elements of life interconnected.


She encouraged me to find my own truth in the world around me, and to experience that world from my own perspective. I’ve never forgotten those early lessons, they have informed my whole life.


I have never encountered another educator quite like her. The more conventional teachers that followed were mostly interested in conformity, passing on received knowledge - with dull, unquestioning banality, and they frowned upon individual expression and original thought.


That’s how it felt to me. And I resisted.


So, I left school at fifteen, largely self-educated, with a love of books combined with a desire to engage with the world from my own peculiar point of view, and with a deep love and respect for nature.



Campaigning...


During my lifetime, I’ve witnessed significant destruction of our countryside and a massive decline in many species of birds and other wildlife. This is, I believe, due to society’s disconnection from nature, as a result of what is erroneously called ‘progress’.


I remember a few years ago feeling deflated after reading that the Government's wildlife watchdog, Natural England, had issued licences permitting farmers to shoot ravens, which they believed were responsible for harming lambs. This belief is largely unfounded, and for me the thought of such magnificent and rare birds being killed was unthinkable.


While I noticed other people lamenting the ravens’ fate, nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.


And so I decided to take action myself.


I started a petition asking Natural England to withdraw the licences. To my surprise, people began to sign and the petition gained traction on social media, even being highlighted in some local newspapers, in areas where the licences were active.

Natural England didn't respond at the time - but the public did, and bolstered by their support I decided to look further into the government's licensing system, in order to educate myself and others about the process. What I discovered was shocking.


Through a series of freedom of information requests, I found a magnitude of lethal control licences that was very disturbing. They affected thousands of wild birds across dozens of different species, including red and amber listed species of conservation concern.


I modified the original raven petition to include all of these other wild birds and then proceeded to steadily uncover a catalogue of killing that was horrific, mostly unmonitored, and often sanctioned for spurious reasons.


Cynics told me I was wasting my time trying to change government policy. They advised me to join the big conservation organisations, and rely on them to sort it out; but that was the problem - the licences had been known about for years - and those organisations hadn't sorted it out. So I decided to keep the campaign independent, and prove the cynics wrong.


Determination and stubbornness are key to successful campaigning, but it's also important to remain polite and courteous when dealing with authority, it would be too easy to let frustration at injustice spill over into anger - but that can lead to the closing of doors.


And it is vital to speak one’s own truth, from the heart, then it resonates with other people.


Having discovered the appalling licence figures, I decided to publish a blog post in which I outlined the extent of the problem, and then I took my findings to the newspapers.


Over the next few weeks, several national newspapers in the UK covered the story and there was also interest from overseas. People were shocked, alarmed and dismayed at what I'd found and shared.


With the petition now garnering huge public support (by now we had around 300,000 signatures), I began to highlight individual licences that demanded explanation.


But getting the information was difficult and often the actual details were sketchy, because Natural England didn't publish statistics.



Success...


So I decided that the first aim of my growing campaign was to pressure Natural England into making an annual detailed declaration of their lethal control licences, for public scrutiny.


Having remained silent on the matter for some time, eventually Natural England agreed to speak with me. It was these initial talks that led to the annual publication of licensing data - the first major success for the campaign.


Maintaining contact with Natural England since those early days, I have been able to discuss other licences with them, making suggestions, often based on ideas from my readers.


This has led to further success; for example, Natural England withdrew many licences to kill Herring gulls and suspended permission to harvest eggs of Black-headed gulls for human consumption.


They said they are 'learning lessons' and have even asked for input and ideas from me and my readers.



Onwards...


There is so much more to do. Today the campaign continues and I have vowed to examine the licensing stats each year, raising anything questionable with my contacts at Natural England, and maintaining communication with them to encourage further transparency and accountability. I won't hold back if I find anomalies in the data, and there have been many....


I also particularly encourage readers of my blog and supporters of the campaign to research the data themselves; I believe that it's the responsibility of each of us to highlight concerns and ask questions - not only in this context, but in life generally.


I remain fiercely independent, having decided long ago that many organisations grow too large, lose focus and become beholden to officialdom, stifling original thought and action. The same applies with political associations, which I avoid.


I will continue to speak out for nature and wildlife, in a world where human conflict with the natural world is sadly too prevalent.


Please consider signing Jason Endfield's Petition to "Stop The Legalised Killing of Wild Birds in the UK"


You can read Jason's blog here


Natural England Data Summary Page can be found here , thanks to Jason and all of the campaign's supporters.




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