Pheasant breeders challenge embargo on day-old chicks shipped across the Channel for shooting.

Ferry companies which stopped carrying pheasant chicks for the shooting industry because of welfare concerns are being challenged in court by French game bird breeders.

Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways stopped transporting the birds and fertilised eggs across the English Channel following an undercover investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports in 2015 into factory farms where some of the animals are born.

The League and other animal welfare organisations praised the move, but French game breeders, who provide at least 20 million birds for shoots in the UK, are now suing the companies.

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

“It is clear to the League and the public at large that Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries and DFDS Seaways are acting with integrity in refusing to carry pheasant and partridge chicks for shooting. It is commendable that this position is not only being taken from a commercial perspective, but because it is the right thing to do.”

In the League’s investigation, adult breeding birds were found confined in wire-mesh cages, jumping up and down in a futile attempt to escape. Their beaks had been mutilated to prevent them attacking each other in the crowded, unnatural conditions.

Young pheasants and partridges are taken to Cherbourg or Calais for the ferry crossing to Portsmouth or Dover, before their journey exceeding 19 hours ends with being unloaded at an English shooting estate. Around 50% of the 35 million pheasants and 90% of the 10 million partridges released into the British countryside each year start their life on French and Spanish factory farms.
The lives of these birds will end with many hitting the ground suffering from painful wounds and injuries, having not being killed outright by the shot, only to be killed by having their necks broken or being hit over the head with a beater’s stick. Their carcasses are often buried, dumped or incinerated, the League adds.

Chris Luffingham continues:

“With over 69% of the public backing a ban on shooting birds for ‘sport’ it is clear to any objective observer that the embargoes on movement of animals for shooting has not only the backing of the League and other animal protection organisations, but the public at large. We recommend the pheasant breeders take notice of the public attitude to their sordid trade: pack up, it’s not wanted here.”

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