Poll: Lawshall couple fear children will use skills learnt on primitive hunting activity day to trap neighbourhood cats

Paula Harber in land she owns which is a nature reserve. Paula Harber in land she owns which is a nature reserve.

Friday, August 15, 2014
1:13 PM

A couple have complained to an environmental education charity over a bushcraft course which teaches children how to set traps and snares, fearing the youngsters may test their new skills on neighbours’ cats and garden wildlife.

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Paula and Barry Harber, from Lawshall, near Bury St Edmunds, voiced their concerns to the Green Light Trust over a Primitive Hunting Day for seven to 13-year-olds where they can learn bushcraft skills including setting snares and deadfall traps.

Mrs Harber, 50, has written to this newspaper about the course and hopes other readers will contribute to the debate.

She wrote: “As people concerned with protecting wildlife, my husband and I voiced our concerns to the trust about such a controversial course, worried that, having learnt some of these so called ‘skills’, some children might practice them on the neighbours cats and other wildlife in their own garden.”

Mr Harber, who used to shoot pheasants, said: “It just seems a strange subject to teach young children who might want to try out stuff themselves in the garden.”

But Ashley Seaborne, chief executive of the Green Light Trust, which is based at Lawshall, said the purpose of the course is to educate children about how people used to survive, and still do survive in remote areas.

“It’s more of an educational experience,” he said. “We are doing it responsibly in that they are being told very clearly the responsibility they have with the information we are sharing with them and it’s for the purpose of survival rather than any destructive or irresponsible behaviour.”

He added: “We cannot be held responsible for what everybody does after or with the knowledge they have been given.”

He said the Green Light Trust had been running the bushcraft courses for two-and-a-half years, adding “the children absolutely love it”.

“From our point of view it’s about actually letting children experience real life under controlled circumstances with an experienced tracker,” he said.

He said no live animals were used for the trap demonstrations.

He added they work primarily with local children on the courses, and their parents understand what the trust is trying to do.

The Primitive Hunting Day, which is taking place in a remote area, is on August 28.

For more information about the Green Light Trust visit www.greenlighttrust.org

•What do you think? Should children be taught snaring and trapping skills? Email your thoughts to mariam.ghaemi@archant.co.uk

18 comments

  • Until now I've had a good deal of respect for Green Light and thought that the skills taught to children were appropriate and useful. However, their thinking about the trapping and snaring of wild animals seems to be very muddled, to put it mildly. I fail to see how learning how to skin and gut a dead rabbit (something that could easily be demonstrated at home) helps them to understand where their food comes from. For a start, it does not show them the killing of the animal, presumably because the reality of that would be upsetting for many young children. Nor does it show them the reality of where most of their meat comes from, i.e. factory farms and highly mechanised abattoirs and processing plants. As well as giving children an unrealistic picture of where their food comes from, Green Light fails to acknowledge that the trapping and snaring 'skills' taught will inevitably be shared with siblings and friends outside the training environment and that many traps and snares will be left open putting vulnerable wild animals or even domestic pets at risk of being trapped. Green Light needs to rethink this issue, and perhaps parents will think twice before paying to send their children on these courses.

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    Cat.67

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • I completely agree - read the post below.

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    Nature lover

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  • Agree with John Burls. Teaching children to harm animals is disturbing. As an environmental charity, it would be far better if you ran courses that teach children how to respect and care for wildlife. You could do far better by taking children on nature works to observe the natural lives of animals such as badgers, bats or deer. In the USA where there is a strong tradition of hunting, children are encouraged to participate in these degrading so called sports both at home and in Africa where they shoot lions, elephants, zebra, rhino, giraffes for a sick photo opportunity on Facebook, All these children started some where and they have not been taught to respect animals either. Very wrong and dangerous!

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    Moira Walshe

    Monday, August 18, 2014

  • I have spent a lot of time learning and to some extent teaching what might be described as primitive survival skills. I am very familiar with the skills being taught on the Bushcraft courses via Green Light Trust and know the course content very well. First of all, I must say that some the information in the the article is incorrect, I have spoken to the instructors concerned and at no point are traps ever left set, no animals are ever caught in them and therefore no animal ever needs to be released from them. Trapping is an ancient skill, and it’s interesting but one thing it absolutely doesn’t do is to encourage cruelty to animals, in fact in my view it does exactly the opposite. Making and setting a primitive trap requires learning a lot of skills, it involves learning how animals behave, where they live where they go and when they go there. It involves knowing about the habits of the animal you’re aiming to trap, it teaches you that animals are smart (smarter than we are when it comes to survival), it teaches you how to move and live in the environment without disturbing it, without leaving any sign you’ve been there, without leaving even your scent. Making primitive traps requires learning about different types of wood which of course means leaning about trees, it requires learning about how to use tools, it involves quite sophisticated, delicate and ingenious engineering, it requires the knowledge of how to make cordage which in turn means knowing about plants. Learning where to set traps requires a knowledge of tracking and an awareness of the natural World, it involves paying very close attention to detail, to be aware of what’s going on around you. Trapping is just one small aspect of the many skills involved in Bushcraft, they are valuable life skills, they instill self reliance and confidence. At an initial superficial glance it might sound like teaching kids to torture furry animals but nothing could be further from the truth, These skills are taught with deep respect and foster a deeper connection with nature and with animals than can be learned from a hamster in a cage. On the course in question children are also shown how to skin & prepare a rabbit to cook & eat. This is an important and invaluable lesson to learn, it teaches kids where meat comes from and it makes the connection between death & food. If more people made that connection perhaps they would also be much more concerned about animal welfare and be more discerning about where and how their meat was raised & how it was killed. On courses like this, young people are also taught how to use knives safely & responsibly and how to make fire. Do we have similar worries that teaching this to kids will encourage them to be muggers and arsonists? It strikes me that this issue is actually less about the skills being taught but more about our trust in the children and their parents. Let’s credit our children with a little more intelligence and empathy shall we? I for one would much rather live in a World where young people have self-reliance, and a deeper connection with the the natural World around them.

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    Nature lover

    Monday, August 18, 2014

  • Our village of Lawshall has a long history of getting children engaged with nature and the local woodlands and these bushcraft courses are another example of this which should be applauded. We already have the local Primary School running twice weekly Forest Schools, a monthly Youth Woodlands Group and the "Seed to Tree" program that has seen local children plant a large number of the trees now growing in our community woodlands, Golden and Crooked Woods. We are constantly looking for new ways to get the local kids to enjoy and respect the natural resources around them and anything that will get their interest is very welcome. I am delighted that my son and two of his friends will be on one of these bushcraft courses next week and I expect the respect they already have for the flora and fauna around them to be enhanced not diminished by the experience. For the record - there are a few inaccuracies in this article. No traps will be left unattended, no animals will be trapped and no traps will be left in place. The course should be seen in context as one of 3 days teaching the sorts of wild skills used hundreds, and even thousands of years ago and also includes a day of shelter building and a day learning tracking skills. Maybe, if the children who have vandalised the village's Papua New Guinean Wind House in Golden Wood had been involved in something like this over the holidays, they would have found a less destructive outlet for their energy. Martin Adams Forest for our Children - Lawshall's Community Woodland.

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    Oscar's Dad

    Monday, August 18, 2014

  • For starters, trapping is a traditional COUNTRYSIDE (which is where we live) activity that kids throughout generations have been taught and enjoyed. Secondly, would Mrs. Harber rather our kids be trapped in doors on there computer games increasing obesity rates and decreasing the generations health? As well as this. Kids these days can get hold of games via the internet whereby the objective is too kill human beings?!?! And finally and most importantly. What does Mrs. Harber think is wrong with the children in the village? Is she implying that our kids have been taught and grown up with wrongill morals and with no respect for others or domestic animals? I seriously think its and argument for the sake of arguing.

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    Robert Smith

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Maybe kids can find out these "skills" elsewhere, but teaching them to kill anything is disgusting and degrading. As for beerlovers comments, words fail me.

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    JOHN BURLS

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Picture in the news? Or maybe trying to promote their nature reserve

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    newsaddict

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Guess she just wanted her picture in the newspaper.

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    R2 D2

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Blackeye - hmm, interesting point. Why is her age specified, but not her husband's, or that of Mr Seaborne? A little bit of everyday sexism here?

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    blue&white

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Of course much better to let them sit in front of computers, blowing things up and killing people, hope these children don't have history lessons in school or they may be damaged for life

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    Andys

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Why on earth do we need to know Mrs Harber's age?

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    Blackeye

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • why do kids need a trapping course , teach them something usefull.

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    TERENCE MANNING

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • If any of the kids DO want to use their skills to trap cats, they'd be welcome in my garden, where the vermin do nothing but defecate everywhere, dig up plants and terrify my poor fish.

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    beerlover

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • I think these people need to remember that they live in the countryside and wake up a little. In order to conserve rarer species some pest species inevitably need controlling - mink and rats are two prime examples and some conservation charities carry out such work at key locations themselves. Anyone can go onto the internet and find out how to set a trap - whether it will done properly is then only down to the skill of the novice trapper. I'd sooner send a youngster on a proper course where heshe can learn how to set and locate traps properly, minimising suffering and be taught the responsibilities around frequent checking, safe release of non target species etc.

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    Suffolk Boy

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Getting children away from electronic forms of entertainment and into the fresh air can only be praised and encouraged. As children we used to build dens, play in woods but sadly it's attitudes like this that now mean our children are wrapped in cotton wool and must walk around with hand sanitiser in case they get dirty. Please let me know when the Green Light Trust arranges boxing courses as I would like to put my name down, hopefully this doesn't encourage me to knock some common sense into the neighbourhood residents.

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    Mike Hunt

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • I used to be a care worker with children - I had to take a young lad on a day course on field craft. They tried to teach him (and other youngsters there)!how to light a fire without a box of matches. The only ones interested were 2 girls who commented " handy when we haven't got a light for our fags!".

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    The original Victor Meldrew

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Laughable!! what people will complain about and for something which has been taught to children for years, I think the complainer’s need a life lesson, wake up and stop being so boring. In this informative world where people should be knowledgably some prude always fears what has been around since year dot, the internet shows a lot worse so people who can show children and tell them the reasons not to do this outside of the course is great, rejoice children’s experiences, there’s far more worse things out there.

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    newsaddict

    Friday, August 15, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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