Jul 13

New report shows devastating impact of commercial pheasant and partridge shoots

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A NEW SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF COMMERCIAL PHEASANT AND PARTRIDGE SHOOTS REVEALS THEIR DEVASTATING IMPACTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY IN THE UK.

Labour Animal Welfare Society (LAWS), which commissioned the report is calling for pheasant and partridge shooting to be banned.

The new report reveals that:

  • Each year some 47 million pheasants and 10 million red-legged partridges (both non-native species in the UK) are released into the environment for participants to pay to shoot.
  • Some 40% of these birds are predated by foxes. This ‘supplementary food’ is sufficient to provide for 80,000 to 120,000 foxes each year. There would be significantly fewer foxes in Britain if these releases of non-native pheasants and partridges was to end.
  • Such predictable supplies of carrion resulting from the releases leads to high densities of predators and scavengers which leads to increased predation pressure on ground nesting native bird species as the availability of the ‘supplementary food dries up in spring and early summer.
  • Each year the gamebird shooting industry uses 376,000 tons of feed including 282,000 tons of wheat i.e. nearly 2% of the UK’s annual wheat production
  • The gamebird industry administers a disproportionate amount of antibiotics (compared to all other animal production systems in Britain) in attempts to keep the birds healthy. Over the past 20 years many tonnes of antibiotics will have entered the eco-system in this way.
  • A minimum estimate is that 2500 tonnes of lead shot is fired into the environment by gamebird shooters representing billions of individual pellets, generating high levels of risk in local areas.
  • Potentially dangerous levels of lead are to be found in gamebird products on sale to consumers, including by supermarket chains.
  • Releasing pheasants near to roads causes unnecessary road traffic accidents including some motorists who suffer serious injuries.
  • There are significant animal welfare and environmental issues associated with the widespread killing of, potentially, millions of native bird and mammal species each year to protect the commercial shooting interests.
  • Poisons, snares and traps as well as guns, are used to kill these animals.
  • Britain is the only European country that offers the opportunity to kill such large numbers of released non-native gamebirds in a day.

LAWS is calling for the commercial shooting of pheasants and partridges to be banned and for the Labour Party to adopt a ban as part of its policy review.

Mark Glover, Chair of LAWS says: ‘The practice of releasing and shooting tens of millions of non-native birds in the UK countryside is a crime against nature and should be brought to an end as soon as possible. The environmental damage wrought on our countryside is immense and quite unnecessary. The economic argument cannot be used to justify this carnage as there are so many alternative enterprises and sources of income becoming available in rural areas.’

NOTES

  • The Labour Animal Welfare Society was set up in 1992 to provide animal welfare information to the Labour Party, Labour Councils and Groups etc. It is an affiliated group to the Labour Party.
  • According to the Register of Members ‘ Financial Interests, over recent years a number of Conservative MPs have received gifts and hospitality from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). These have included: Nigel Adams, Mark Garnier, Graham Brady, Mark Spencer, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Gerald Howarth and Karl McCartney.
  • The Conservative Party has made hundreds of thousands of pounds at its annual ball by auctioning pheasant, partridge and grouse shooting events donated by supporters.
  • Shoots gained exemption from the ‘rule of six’ covid restrictions in autumn 2020.