'Game' bird Shooting industry 'hit with both barrels'

Tuesday 1st November 2016: Halloween turned into a nightmare for the 'game' bird shooting industry after the cruelty linked to grouse, pheasant and partridge shooting was exposed in Parliament and on TV.

Driven grouse shooting, which involves moorland being burned to provide ideal breeding conditions for the birds – which are then driven onto waiting guns – was debated for three hours in Parliament following a 120,000 signature petition on the Government website.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s Inside Out news programme highlighted the way partridges and pheasants are factory farmed in ‘terrible conditions’ before being crammed into transport to the places where they will be shot.

Eduardo Gonçalves, CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, which co-created the grouse petition and assisted the BBC with their investigation into pheasant breeding farms, said:

“Is shooting illegal? No. Is it morally wrong? Yes. The comfy image that shooting tries to portray was blasted with both barrels yesterday, and we hope this is the beginning of the end for what is nothing more than an industry based on suffering – all in the name of ‘sport’.”

Driven grouse shooting involves a line of beaters disturbing the grouse and causing them to fly towards a line of “butts” in which shooters use shotguns to attempt to kill as many of the birds as possible. Thousands of birds are shot every day during the season, many are maimed and left to die slowly rather than being killed outright.

For grouse moors to be profitable, they must be able to offer unnaturally high numbers of grouse for paying clients to shoot. Grouse moors must be intensively managed to optimise conditions for the 'game' birds to thrive, which has a detrimental effect on both the environment and wildlife.

“Grouse shooting advocates like to claim that the way they manage the moorland is beneficial to wildlife, but the fact is that they have only one goal – to produce more grouse to shoot,” said Mr Gonçalves.

“Talking about the conservation claims of the shooting industry, conservation cannot have one blind focus – particularly one so cruel – it must look at the wider picture. On one side we have a sport which provides fun for a few, and part-time jobs for a few more, on the other side we have the desecration of our landscapes, the killing of endangered birds of prey, increasing links to flooding, negative impacts on wildlife tourism and the snaring of hundreds of thousands of animals every year. There’s no justification for this imbalance.”

Around 35 million non-native pheasants and partridges are factory farmed then released into the UK countryside annually. In addition to the massive numbers of birds involved, damning revelations of widespread raptor killings, environmental damage, conservation failure and animal cruelty are also plaguing the shooting industry.

A catalogue of incidents, including the government-sanctioned killing of buzzards to ‘protect’ pheasants so they can be shot later and the RSPB’s recent withdrawal of its support for the Hen Harrier Action Plan (because of continued persecution of these protected birds of prey on grouse moors), are shining a spotlight into the murky secrets of the commercial shooting industry.

“Pheasants and partridges might be seen by some as a delicacy for the table and shooting them may be seen as somehow natural,” said Mr Gonçalves. “But there’s nothing natural about the factory farming conditions in which they are bred – there’s nothing even natural about them being in the UK, as they are non-native to this country.

“The numbers are extremely worrying – around 100,000 birds are shot each day during the shooting season. Piles of rotting birds are left behind, proving that huge numbers of them never make it to the table. 'Game' bird shooting on an industrial scale is not about providing food – it’s about providing ‘fun’ for people who want to kill animals."

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  • Further Press Information: Please contact the League’s Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email press@league.org.uk
  • Find out more on our shooting page
  • League Against Cruel Sports is a registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no. SC045533) that brings together people who care about animals. Like the majority of the public, we believe that cruelty to animals in the name of sport has no place in modern society.

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