However, there's an under-reported new crime I do feel duty-bound to immediately bring to the attention of ArchBlog readers: poult (baby pheasant) rustling (stealing).
According to The Press Association, baby pheasants are being stolen from farms across the countryside at an alarming rate. It's taking off big time. This just in from the PA reporter who's embedded with the Leicestershire coppers: "About 200 birds were stolen from cages on Watborough Farm, in Tilton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire, on August 7, before the same number were taken from Limes Farm in nearby Gaulby on August 17." The street value of these birds is no joke. It's £1,300.
Beyond sheer evil, I dread to think what motivates the poalt rustlers?
Are they laying on shooting weekends for blue-blooded toddlers not yet quite up to blasting clay pigeons? Or are they organising boozy weekends in the woods for alcoholic aristos so sozzled they can only manage shooting targets which can't actually fly (or move)? The mind boggles and throws up words like 'sick,' 'wrong' and 'Hugo' I'm launching STOP with the aim of bringing to justice the dastardly crims behind this rural crimewave which is spreading faste than a Muscovite wild-fire. If the rustlers are stealing to order (art world style), I'll not rest until I bring down the kingpin who's pulling the puppet strings. The buck will stop.
By now, you're probably wondering ... how will STOP start? Well, firstly, let me echo PA deepthroat Pc Chris Hill, when he says: "We would like to speak to anyone who has been offered a large number of pheasants." So, next time you're in a countryside pub, do me a favour would you? Keep a beady eye out or anyone who looks (even slightly) like a poacher. If they are carrying a gently undulating binliner sporting the odd beak rip, send ArchBlog a text or tweet and I'll despatch the nearest STOP officer.
While my hopes are sky-high that we can track down the Barbour-clad baddies, I'm prepared for a long stakeout (chocolate Digestives - tick). As Hill notes, "[T]he birds are probably too small to be used for human consumption, and too small to fly, so they may have been taken elsewhere until they are more mature." So, eyes peeled on that ivy-clad outhouse, that little-used shed on the allotment. Rustle a few feathers in high places - see what fleas you can unearch. Remember, these babies are somewhere. And we need to find them ...
Photo credit (baby pheasant): John Mesjak
Photo credit (beaters): Des Colhoun (Creative Commons License)