Over 57,000 factory-farmed pheasants have been released onto a Welsh university’s grounds over the past five years to be shot for ‘sport’.

The previously-unpublished figures outlining the large number of game birds let loose into the University of Wales’ Gregynog Hall site in Powys have been uncovered by the League Against Cruel Sports under freedom of information laws.

The wildlife protection charity is requesting the university doesn’t renew its deed with controversial game bird shooting outfit Bettws Hall when it expires in February.

Chris Luffingham, Director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Whilst any degree of shooting birds for ‘sport’ doesn’t sit well with the public, the sheer scale of pheasant shooting uncovered at the University of Wales’ Gregynog Hall campus is shocking. Pheasants are literally being factory farmed on an industrial scale and released by their tens of thousands into the university’s grounds, where they are being used as feathered targets. Any native wild animals which interfere with the commercial shooting operation are also destroyed.”

Breeding game birds on Bettws Hall’s industrial farming facility, located just three miles from Gregynog, are incarcerated in bleak wire-mesh cages. The pheasants often exhibit abnormal behaviours induced by the extreme stress of captivity, including tearing out their own and other birds’ feathers, fighting with ‘cage mates’ and repetitive jumping at cage walls.. Offspring of these birds are shipped to shooting estates, such as Gregynog Hall, where they are gunned down by the thousands in the name of ‘sport’.

Additional details uncovered by the League show that gamekeepers at Gregynog Hall have killed more than 160 native wild animals – including foxes, corvids and squirrels – to preserve large numbers of pheasants for shooting parties.

Chris Luffingham added:

“The University of Wales is blessed with a beautiful campus and fantastic students. It’s a real shame that they are continuing to associate themselves with birds being blasted out of the sky for fun, which most people want to see stopped. Universities should be forward-thinking, not dragged backwards by cruel traditions.

“Vice Chancellor Medwin Hughes must commit to not renewing its pheasant shooting leases for Gregynog Hall in light of the considerable damage caused to wildlife and the environment. Only then will the campus grounds truly become the nature reserve they are claimed to be.”

In the face of growing controversy surrounding its pheasant shooting lease, the University of Wales has written to the League to confirm a formal review into arrangements at Gregynog Hall. It is believed concerns relating to negative impacts on animal welfare and the environment at the campus – which is widely promoted as a nature reserve and visitor attraction – has resulted in the announcement.


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  • - For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]
  • - Copies of original Freedom of Information requests and released data are available from the League Against Cruel Sports on request.
  • - 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).