Game birds illegally killed on one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates

Press release

Strictly embargoed until 00:01 Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Game keepers have been filmed illegally trapping and killing ‘game’ birds on the Chargot Shooting Estate, Somerset, during the closed shooting season.

Footage obtained by investigators from leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports shows the birds being caught and killed during the closed shooting season on one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates.

A file has been prepared and passed to Avon and Somerset Police on Tuesday, May 31.

The film shows pheasants entering a funnel cage - a cage designed to trap birds – and a man entering the same cage several hours later.

The man, who is believed to be an employee of the Chargot Estate, is seen swinging each male bird by the neck in an attempt to kill it, leaving some dead and some visibly distressed and flapping about.

On another occasion a different man and a woman are seen stuffing female birds into crates, treating them roughly and holding them by the wings. Catching up, as collecting the pheasants is known, is illegal outside of the shooting season.

It is believed female pheasants are kept for breeding purposes while the males are seen as surplus and killed.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We are appalled to see these animals suffering in this way. Not only that, but we believe they are committing a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This outrageous incident demonstrates a blatant disregard by the shooting industry for the law and all animals involved.

“If employees from one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates can act like this, others clearly can too. Those who go shooting need to realise that behind their grand days out animals are suffering.”

In England and Wales open season for pheasant shooting lasts from October to February, with the rest of the year a closed season which prohibits the shooting of birds to allow them to breed.

Chris added: “More than 61 million game birds are released into the British countryside every year. If they’re not cruelly blasted out the sky, they’re captured and killed anyway - or trapped until ready to breed – both illegal during a closed season.”

Ends

Notes to editors

The film is available here

• During the shooting season up to 146,000 pheasants are shot every day in the UK.

• The League investigator captured the footage from public land beside the estate, owned and managed by the Forestry Commission

• The Forestry Commission issues licences to the Chargot Estate that allows the estate to enable its clients to shoot over public land

• Crime reference number available on request

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email pressoffice@league.org.uk

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 2004 and the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2021. 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 www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).

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