When the guns fall silent

Pheasant shooting season is drawing to an end. Another 35 million birds have been released into the countryside to be needlessly slaughtered, but at the end of the month, at least for the time being, a ceasefire will be called, and the guns will fall silent.

But it’s not all quiet on the western front. In fact, shooting in the west of UK has come under particular scrutiny. Recently, The Times published many articles, focusing on the issue of shooting for sport in the UK. One point of focus is Bettws Hall the UK’s largest shooting operation, which proudly boasts that it “rear[s] in excess of 1.5 million poults per year”.

But to what end? The shooting apologists will tell you it’s all in the name of food production. Then why is it that ‘game’ birds do not come under the same legal protection as animals farmed for food? Or even more to the point, why are 35 million non-native ‘game’ birds being released into the British countryside, allegedly for food, when no-one wants to eat them? According to 2018 polling by the Countryside Alliance, 85% of people have never bought pheasant or partridge to cook at home.

This is reflected in the apparent lack market of demand for ‘game’ birds. In their latest ‘Shoot Benchmarking Survey’, Savills (yes, the estate agent) found that “not all shoots were able to sell their shot game, last season 46% were supplying their game dealer free of charge and 12% were paying the game dealer to collect them.” That’s right, they quite literally can’t give them away!

So, what’s it all for? Another headline in The Times gives a clue “Ten big shoots kill more birds than 3,000 smallest.” The article states that, “The country’s ten biggest game shoots released 1.4 million birds for shooting last year (2018) — more than the smallest 3,000 shoots combined”. This is nothing more than industrialised slaughter, profiting from the senseless, purposeless and cruel killing of birds.

But, despite shooting operations becoming larger and more industrialised, these behemoths are not impenetrable, together we can make a difference. A few months ago, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) banned shooting on its land, a move branded by the shooting lobby as “… not just an issue for Wales; it is an issue for the very future of shooting in the UK.” But this is only the first step…

The University of Wales currently leases land at its Gregynog Hall campus in Powys to Bettws Hall for shooting. An FOI request by the League revealed that 57,000 birds were released to be shot over a five-year period, but in 2019, the lease is up for renewal.

Please join the thousands of people who have already written to the University of Wales calling for this season to be its last.


You can make a difference, you can save lives, and together we can put a stop to shooting.

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