Earlier this week we were alerted to yet more cases of birds and mammals that are being injured and fatally wounded by air guns, a worrying situation that is closely monitored and frequently raised as a concern by the RSPCA. A recent investigation from the Wildlife Aid Foundation confirms that these attacks are on the increase again.
Just last week a duck, an Indian runner who had been shot with an air-gun, was brought into the WAF’s hospital in Leatherhead. Sadly his injuries were too severe to be saved.
It later transpired that a 14 year old from Leatherhead had been responsible for shooting random animals from his window for several weeks. This matter is now being dealt with by the police.
WAF founder-director Simon Cowell MBE explained that it was “not uncommon” for the charity to have to deal with wildlife that had been shot with air-guns or crossbows. “Sadly, these are not isolated cases,” said Simon. “There have been several in recent weeks. Some of the Injuries from airgun pellets and crossbow bolts are truly appalling and by the time we are able to tend to the animal it is very weak and in terrible pain”.
Year in, year out we are presented with RSPCA figures which demonstrate yet another rise in airgun attacks on wild and domestic animals. And in equal proportions we receive press releases from the pro-shooting lobby encouraging more children to pick up a gun and take up shooting.
Last December a school in Cambridgeshire went as far as to organise a trip for a class of ten year olds to watch ducks and geese being shot. Unsurprisingly many of the children were left hugely distressed and traumatised, as they believed they were going out for a day of bird watching.
And now we hear (also unsurprisingly) that the new head of the Countryside Alliance, Sir Barney White-Spunner is, yet again, encouraging more children to take up shooting as a healthy ‘country’ pursuit. The justification this time being to get children away from virtual guns and out using real ones. Are these people actually living in the real world any more?!
I could go on and on about social responsibility and the issues that concern raising children without moral guidance and stability. But I will refrain from doing so, as I would hope such issues to be glaringly obvious.
The bare bone facts are plain to see: violent crime is on the rise, firearm crimes towards humans and animals are also on the rise, youths acquiring airguns and weapons to kill and injure domestic and wild animals is on the rise, society as a whole is becoming more desensitised to violence, need I go on? Now is clearly NOT the time to be handing over lethal weapons to children and teaching them that it is perfectly acceptable to shoot animals for fun or sport.
Nurturing our youth, and encouraging a compassionate and caring attitude towards our wildlife, people and the world around us should really take priority if we are to tackle any kind of violence in the future. I also believe reclassifying the term ‘country pursuits or sports’ by removing blood sports would be a good start.
There is so much else to do in the countryside aside from shooting wildlife, such as rambling, hiking, zorbing, horse riding, kite boarding, abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing, bush craft, bird watching, para-gliding, hang gliding, grass skiing, foraging, camping, golf. Feel free to add your own suggestions too!