Game Shooting in the UK or Shame Shooting
Every year around 35 million non native, factory farmed pheasants and partridges are imported into the UK. They are sold to the 300 game shooting estates, an industry that is reported to be worth £1.6 billion to the economy.
“One for the pot” is a myth. Many more birds are released each year than the demand for “game” from consumers with around half of the birds never getting within sight of a gun. Far from the claim that they will live a natural wildlife, whilst breeding to support the native population next year; the truth is they die from predation, exposure, starvation and traffic collision. Many of the birds that are shot are simply “tossed” into mass graves after the shoot.
‘Game’ birds are anything but free range and organic as the Countryside Alliance’s claim; Birds are kept in cages so small it would be illegal to raise chickens in them. They are artificially bred and reared for release prior to the shooting season, at the expense of other wildlife, including protected species such as Birds of prey, otters and badgers.
The League Against Cruel Sports “Guns, Smoke and Mirrors campaign reveals the shooting industry is built on lies and exposes the reality behind the myths of commercial game bird shoots.
The investigation exposed the shocking conditions the birds are bred in. Breeding units cause stress. Most birds are artificially incubated although broody hens may still be used to hatch the young in smaller rearing units. Incubator-hatched chicks are transferred to a brooder system, where they're densely stocked and kept warm for the first few days under artificial heat, essential warmth that is provided in nature by the mother's sheltering wings. Many rearing units can hold up to one thousand birds. Chicks are so stressed they resort to feather pecking and cannibalism. To control this, they are fitted with bits. These mutilate the birds and prevent their beaks from closing.
The majority of birds are imported into the UK as one day old chicks. In September Brittany Ferries announced that they would no longer carry the chicks into the UK and this was supported in early October when P&O Ferries also banned the practice following some targeted campaigning by the League. In August, when the birds are some eight to ten weeks of age, they are sold to shoots. Gamekeepers will call to “feed” before releasing them into the countryside.
In the UK, the game bird shooting season begins on 1st October and continues until the 1st February 2016. Grouse are also considered as game birds.
The most common type of game bird shoot is "driven shooting" where beaters drive the birds towards a line of stationary guns. The BASC state; “This form of shooting is much more formal than simply walking with your dog. On the shoot day, a team of shooters, or ‘Guns’, line out at numbered pegs. Meanwhile, under the gamekeeper’s instructions, a group of beaters and their dogs move through areas of woodland or covert, flushing the game ahead of them. The aim is to get the birds to break cover and fly high over the line of ‘Guns’ to provide sporting shots. The shot game is retrieved quickly by a picker-up who sends his/her trained gun dog to where the shot game falls.
The claims of the BASC and Countryside Alliance of the quick collection of shot birds are shown to be false in the video, where the ‘gun’ obviously ignores the injured birds, including some that have fallen into the nearby river and are drowning. No attempt is made to retrieve them at all. This "Gun" is as inaccurate as he is irresponsible. It is a "shooting frenzy", not the controlled event as the BASC claim.
Most “Guns", use a shotgun with a 12 or 20 bore. Some can pay up to £1,000 a day to take part in an organised hunt. With no mandatory firearm training requirement in the UK, many birds die lingering deaths, as seen in the video, after being shot by inaccurate and/or inexperienced shooters.
In addition, hundreds of tonnes of highly toxic lead shot are discharged into the countryside environment each year. This not only contaminates rivers, lakes and soil but enters the food chain when ingested by predators that feed on shot birds carcasses.
The Save Me Trust believe that game bird shooting, along with other blood sports should be stopped and made illegal and strongly support the excellent work of groups such as Animal Aid and League Against Cruel Sports in highlighting the cruel practices involved in the industry.