Four leading animal protection organisations have teamed up to urge the government to give wild birds robust protections from being killed in the name of ‘sport’.

The League Against Cruel Sports, PETA UK, Animal Aid and Born Free wrote to Secretary of State for Environment, Michael Gove MP, warning that proposals to make pigeons a ‘quarry species’ – stripping them of current legal protections – will only serve to legitimise the outdated view that killing wildlife for fun is an acceptable pastime.

Millions of pheasants, partridges and red grouse are already shot for ‘sport’ in the UK. Pigeons are also on occasion shot for entertainment by a small number of hobbyists who use ‘pest control’ or ‘crop protection’ as a ruse to satisfy their bloodlust.

In their letter to Secretary of State Michael Gove MP the four animal protection organisations said:

“Should the legal protection of wood pigeons be reduced, there is a very real risk of the rise of a whole new bloodsport.

Pigeons flying home to roost will be subject to a salvo of shotgun fire, with large numbers being painfully wounded and killed if these proposals are given the go-ahead. Many birds will be tossed in incinerators, fly-tipped by the roadside or buried in pits, as is already evidenced with other ‘game’ birds killed on shooting estates.”

The countryside is routinely purged of crows, magpies, rooks and other wild birds by gamekeepers to ensure ‘game’ birds make it up into the air, only to be used as feathered target practice.

Polling carried out by the League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid found 69 per cent of people want to see shooting birds for ‘sport’ made illegal; it is therefore clear the public will not support a move capitulating to an industry that represents those who kill animals for fun.

The letter added:

“We strongly urge the Government to give British wildlife the protection it truly deserves. The public will not countenance a climb down and do not want the gate opened for the further commercialised killing of birds.”

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Notes for editors:


  • For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

  • The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

Link to letter