Public backs a ban on game bird shooting

Pheasant dog crop

The poll, commissioned by charities, comes ahead of the start of the grouse shooting season in Scotland

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26th July 2018 by Graham Martin 10 Comments

Most people in the UK think the shooting of birds for ‘sport’ should be banned.

YouGov polling shows that shows that nearly seven out of ten people (69%) want it made illegal.

The poll, commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid, comes ahead of the start of the grouse shooting season in Scotland – the so-called ‘glorious’ 12th of August.

It also coincides with the decision by the Welsh Government to end the licensing of pheasant shooting on public land in the country.

Game bird shooting involves the mass production of more than 35 million pheasants and partridges each year.

Those who survive until shooting season are released on shooting estates to be shot by paying customers.

Despite claims that the birds are then eaten, huge numbers of dead birds are dumped or incinerated as there is very little demand for their meat.

As previously revealed by TFN, the carcases are sometimes distributed to the poor – despite concerns that they contain dangerously high levels of lead as a result of being shot.

Chris Luffingham, director of Campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The shooting industry tries to paint game bird shooting as some kind of traditional, idyllic activity which puts food on the table. That image has been blown out of the sky because people clearly don’t believe it any more.

“These birds are bred to be killed. Many die of disease or on the roads before they even get to the shooting grounds.

“If any get a bullet to the head they are the lucky ones because with amateurs taking pot shots at them many are going to be wounded and die in agony. Then some might be eaten but many will be dumped or burned – the end to a life of suffering fashioned by an uncaring industry.”

The poll showed that 80% oppose the use of cages to breed birds which are subsequently shot, a practice which is routine in pheasant and partridge shooting.

Once respondents had read about cage rearing, they were asked again if they thought shooting birds for sport should be illegal – and 73% said yes.

Isobel Hutchinson, director of Animal Aid, added: “This poll proves that the vast majority of the public abhor the cruelty inflicted on birds by the shooting industry.

“We are also heartened that 80% oppose the cages used to incarcerate the breeding birds whose offspring will become feathered targets for shooters. Our undercover work has repeatedly revealed the suffering of those breeding birds, languishing in their thousands in horrific conditions.

“The frustration they experience at their captivity leads them to attack one another and repeatedly fly into the cage roof in a futile attempt to escape.

“It is time for politicians to take notice of public opinion and as a first, vital step, ban the cruel cages.”

27th July 2018 by Lok Yue

A great deal more chickens are raised, live and die in far worse surroundings than pheasants. If people think that hens are no longer farmed in vile conditions there are a number of charities ready to put them right. An African saying is that 'if the game can pay the game can stay' Shooting syndicates pay to shoot in habitats attractive to certain birds. This means heather moor (grouse) and variegated woodland (pheasant) are maintained. The idea that 'toffs' are trying to poison people by giving them lead poisoned pheasants is arrant nonsense. Any recorded cases of death by leaded pheasant? The You Gov survey was commissioned i believe by the League against cruel sports - hardly an objective body. Finally the phrase 'those birds getting a bullet in the head are the lucky ones' simply demonstrates the authors ignorance of game shooting, where shotguns (which fire lead pellets) not rifles (which fire bullets). A small point? Possibly but if you are going to attack a legal pastime do try to get your facts right

27th July 2018 by meg hindmarsh

one is concerned as to whether this is a "good" survey in terms of spread of responders.

27th July 2018 by Teresa Grover

There is far too much animal slaughter already. It was found that thousands of birds were shot for fun & money then were left in bags to rot!!!!!! Disgusting people!

27th July 2018 by James Arber

@Lok Yue (1) "The phrase 'those birds getting a bullet in the head are the lucky ones' simply demonstrates the authors ignorance" - that was a quote, not the authors words - why not read the article with a little more care? (2) "Any recorded cases of death by leaded pheasant" - not sure but here's an interesting article about lead poisoning ( - as you will note from the section 'Exposure routes' food is an acknowledged source of lead toxicity. (3) "The idea that 'toffs' are trying to poison people by giving them lead poisoned pheasants is arrant nonsense." - indeed so, which is probably why that is not a suggestion made by the author of this article - again I wonder: why not read the article with a little more care?

27th July 2018 by Lawnsyawns

@Lok Yue shocking. Hens are a separate issue. On this issue (sport, not feeding people):Maintaining the moors - they're maintained purely for the game bird, no other plant or animal, so much so that our moorlands are unrecognisable. Birds of prey, mountain hare for example, are illegally killed, protected birds’ (like Hen Harrier) nests vandalised.... They're certainly not maintained for the good of our environment and our wildlife. I also think people are less concerned with toffs poisoning people than they are with the lead shot being all over these moorlands… I’m sure you’re aware any other birds that have managed to make it onto the site without being trapped or shot can and do eat lead shot. “Scientists took blood samples from 285 live waterbirds at four WWT centres in Gloucestershire, Norfolk, Lancashire and Dumfriesshire. Lead was detected in all blood samples with 34% showing high blood lead levels.” Just so that rich people can shoot birds… not for anything important. Just sport. How can people be so obsessed with themselves that they fight for the right to take part in a sport when it kills and damages to this extent. We are poisoning our wildlife and ruining habitats for so many important plants, animals and birds.The author is right about those receiving headshots as the lucky ones... the point that they used the word bullet instead of pellet is of no relevance. Those birds not killed instantly die a horrible death… for no reason. Seeing them reared in their cages, months on end in a small space only to be released in such massive numbers – what is their impact on our environment, thousands of birds, just released!Raising these birds just to die for sport is madness. How sad so many people think their recreation is more important than the life of these birds. Blood sport has no place in our society, it brings no improvements and instead kills, damages and spreads the word that blood sport is ok. Our environment belongs equally, to all of us, from the big landowner in his castle, to the little robin. Shame on you.

30th July 2018 by Lok Yue

Lawnsyawns. 'Hens are a separate issue', so are factory farmed cattle, battery pigs, horses transported hundreds of miles to slaughter in vile conditions. If our moorlands are unrecognisable pray tell us wha they should look like. Heather provides ground cover,shelter and food for many birds and animals. The creation of an artificial habitat on langholm moor with RSPB involvement was not as success (dead rats had to be fed to starving raptors). Land birds do not eat lead shot. This is the cases with some filter feeding waterfowl which is why, correctly, the use of lead shot is banned over water. James Arber accuses me of not reading the article with care: "As previously revealed by TFN, the carcases are sometimes distributed to the poor – despite concerns that they contain dangerously high levels of lead as a result of being shot.'. I also read the article referred to, with care My paraphrasing is fairly accurate. 'The impact on the environment, thousands of birds etc. ' Very little in the adverse sense. Pheasants are primarily seed eaters and have for several thousand years, picked over grain fields before and after harvest. Gamekeepers supplement this with bagged grain which does not contain additives, unlike many poultry feeds and fishmeal given to farmed salmon. Whether the phrase 'bullet in the head' is irrelevant (Lawnsyawns) or a quote - presumably put in by the author to strengthen his argument ( JA) it is still inaccurate. By all means make your points and state your arguments but be accurate

31st July 2018 by George

People like the league against cruel sports and other anti game shooting organisastions live in a dream world that believe our countryside manages itself and is as beautiful as it is due to the work they do. Sadly this isn’t try and they lie to the general public.The amount of billions that are put into rural projects that is paid for by gameshooting industry is what keeps rural Britain alive. The thousands of trees and hedgerows planted every year for game cover that further provides habitats for all wild life. The management of vermin and deer.The league need to be careful because soon our countryside will be unmanaged and turn baron like the rspb non shooting moors.

31st July 2018 by Annabell

never saw the point in it. Bringing in non native birds just to shoot for fun, while killing native wildlife for these invasive non native animals that were dragged from India and then bred just for shooting. It's hypocritical insanity, and then there is the grouse shooting. again pure loony. in an age of intensiveness farming, hunting is for now at least redundant, hunting for true need or to keep your livestock and crops safe is one thing, but chasing around an animal with a pack of dogs harming not only non target wildlife and Domestic animals but also the hounds and horses as well. Plus it's outdated and cruel. And then breeding birds on mass just to let them loose into the wild where most will get killed by cars in the first few days is just utterly insane!And for those jumping on the pro hunt bandwagon. A couple of things you should think about, 1: is a point of fact 2: a religious matter for those who claim to be of Faith.1: People jump on the "it's fun" wagon, REMEMBER animal Cruelty is a sign of a mental illness known as psychopathy and taking pleasure in killing and inflicting cruelty on animals and humans is the biggest sign of it.2: If you claim do me christian while engaging in hunting for fun you are a hypocrite. And you need to learn to read your holy book because it demands that you treat animals with compassion even when you kill them to eat, And treating them with Cruelty and killing them for Sport is seen as a sin.

31st July 2018 by Lok Yue

Some corrections, Annabel. Pheasants were probably introduced in the 11th century, mainly for food. Not good flyers they were rarely hawked although sometimes hunted with bow and arrow. As to where they came from, the area around Turkey seems most likely. 'In an age of intensiveness (sic) farming hunting is..redundant'. Two points: the very intensiveness of farming threatens the countryside insofar as many farmers will farm to the very limits of of their land, removing hedgerows and tree cover in the process. Animal farming has become more intense than ever and very few domesticated animals (sheep being the main exception) cannot be and are, factory farmed. (I did not mention fox hunting, to which i assume she refers but I was not aware that collateral damage was caused to 'non target wildlife.) Most bred birds do NOT get killed by cars in the first few days because thy are kept in pheasant pens until mature enough to fend for themselves. It is waving a particularly broad brush to suggest that all those engaged in field sports are practising psychopaths. Does she have any proof? Finally are those involved in factory farming and those who eat cheap meat from supermarkets and are thus complicit in cruelty psychopaths also. The countryside is a created not natural environment. People have drained swamps, tilled the land and farmed beasts. Field sports participants ensure the countryside is not turned into an agro desert. This might be partly serendipitous but it is nevertheless a positive result

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