League Against Cruel Sports says industry's links to wildlife crime and factory farming must be examined
The slaughter of millions of birds is set to commence amid mounting controversy surrounding the UK shooting industry’s links to wildlife crime.
On Monday, 2 October, gunfire will sound across the country as the pheasant and partridge hunting season begins, with 100,000 birds a day killed.
The shooting industry is mired in controversy over ongoing claims of raptor persecution and illegal snaring.
On the so-called glorious 12th, the start of the grouse shooting season, an RSPB-Scotland monitored hen harrier disappeared on a grouse moor a few miles north of Ballater in the Cairngorms National Park.
There was controversy recently when TFN exclusively revealed that Ian Botham is using a charity to donate birds killed on his estates to people in poverty – despite evidence that the carcasses are contaminated by lead shot.
The League Against Cruel Sports is calling for these concerns to be addressed as part of an independent inquiry into the industry.
Philippa King, acting chief executive, said: “The evidence continues to mount against the shooting industry, as further reports of the killing and disappearance of birds of prey and the discovery of illegal traps on shooting estates come to light.
“Ian Botham caused much outcry when he announced he was going to donate game birds from his estate to the poor – perhaps because people would prefer that those directly benefiting from the shooting industry didn’t try to deceive the public into thinking the industry has nothing to hide.”
There are currently no minimum legal space requirements for caged pheasants and partridges as there are for those animals bred or kept for farming.
Defra research shows that caged pheasants and partridges suffer from painful open sores on their feet caused by the wire mesh floor they are kept on for up to three months a year before being released to be shot.
Wire snares and traps are often set by gamekeepers on shooting estates to target animals such as foxes, stoats and crows.
However, due to the indiscriminate nature of these devices, many non-target, protected and endangered species such as badgers, hares and even pet cats and dogs get caught and killed in these traps..
King added: “The shooting industry is responsible for the factory farming of millions of pheasants. These birds are subjected to cruel and intensive husbandry methods and when they are released to be killed, many are wounded rather than being killed outright, further adding to their suffering.
“With evidence mounting against the industry’s poor animal welfare practices and its links to the persecution of wildlife, the time for an independent inquiry into the UK shooting industry is long overdue.”