Overview of the shooting campaign
Every year in Britain, more than 45 million pheasants and partridges are mass-produced like commercial poultry so that they can be shot down by wealthy 'guns', who might pay £1,000 or more per day for the 'privilege'.
Scores of thousands of egg-laying pheasants are confined for the whole of their productive lives (around two years) in the kind of battery cages used for laying hens, and which have been condemned across Europe – and will be banned in 2012 – because they are considered to be inhumane.
Animal Aid’s graphic undercover video, Assault and Battery, demonstrates that the caged birds suffer a high incidence of emaciation, feather-loss and back and head wounds. Many of the pheasants lunge repeatedly at their cage roofs in a forlorn attempt to escape.
In an effort to eliminate the bird-on-bird aggression caused by the crowded conditions in the rearing sheds and release pens, gamekeepers fit the pheasants with various devices. These restrict their vision and prevent them from pecking at their cage mates.
Because of the enfeeblement that results from being reared in sheds, around half of the birds die before they can be gunned down. They perish from exposure, starvation, disease, predation or under the wheels of motor vehicles.
Given that a small group of shooters can kill up to 500 birds a day, many of the victims are not actually eaten. According to an editorial in Country Life magazine (February 1, 2001) some of the ‘surplus’ is buried in specially dug holes. Added to these casualties are the numerous unretrieved birds who die slowly from their gunshot wounds, out of sight of the guns.
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