Wales has banned pheasant shooters from public land and almost everyone’s delighted

Dead pheasants
Glen Black

National Resources Wales (NRW) has chosen not to renew pheasant and gamebird shooting licences on its land from March 2019. Anti-shooting campaigners have celebrated the decision as a victory for wildlife. But one group wasn’t happy at all.

Campaign success

On 20 September, NRW announced it wouldn’t renew licences for shooting pheasants and other game birds on its land. The change will take effect in March 2019. The Daily Post quoted Hannah Blythyn, Welsh environment minister, as saying:

…the Welsh government does not support commercial pheasant shooting, or the breeding of gamebirds or the birds being held in holding pens on the estate prior to release on the Welsh government estate.

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It comes after a campaign by Animal Aid began in October 2015. The animal rights group said a review of pheasant and gamebird shooting by the Welsh government resulted from its campaign. A petition during the review collected over 12,700 signatures. And a public consultation showed 76% of responses wanted the ban.

The NRW said it currently leases 293 hectares of land for shooting.

*Round of applause*

Animal Aid said the news was a “massive victory”:

And it was met with delight on Twitter by other animal rights groups:

Meanwhile, others said the decision showed the era of bloodsports is ending:

But the news didn’t please everybody. One small section of the population was very unhappy: shooters.

*Grumbling noises*

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said the decision “pandered to animal rights extremists”:

And it described it with a straight face as the result of “the radical petitioning of extremist groups”:

Countryside Alliance Wales felt hard done by:

As did the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust:

While one man, who appears to be a member of all three groups, claimed without evidence that the decision will “put many people onto benefits”:

Shooting themselves in the foot

The pheasant shooting season runs between 1 October and 1 February. And its scale is immense. The biomass of pheasants released for shooting annually comes in at 40,000 tonnes. By comparison, the entire regular UK bird population weighs in at just 25,000 tonnes.

Shooting is also damaging to other animals. Up to 400,000 wild birds are poisoned each year by lead shot. And the deaths of rare birds have also been linked to game shoots.

As a result, shooters have fallen back onto using jobs and the economy as the main defence for their hobby. But this is a sure sign that bloodsport enthusiasts are quickly running out of excuses. The future is getting brighter for animals and wildlife in the UK. And NRW’s decision is a high point.

Get Involved!

Read more at The Canary about game shooting.

– Go on the People’s Walk for Wildlife on 22 September.

Featured image via Jonathan M. McGee/YouTube

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Glen Black