Animal Aid

Leading 'independent' research body launches new pro-shoot offensive

Posted 8 January 2007

The Game Conservancy Trust (GCT) has been commissioned by its pro-bloodsports client, the Countryside Alliance (CA), to ‘discover’ whether there are more ‘warm, wide, sunny rides’ in woodland managed for game bird shooting. The broader purpose of this latest investigation - due to start in the spring - is to reinforce the false message that game bird shooting significantly enriches British woodland for the benefit of people, as well as plant and animal life.

Animal Aid’s recently-published report, A Law Unto Themselves, exposes the GCT as a tame mouthpiece for the shooting industry, with some of its top figures personally involved in operating shoots*.

The reality is that the GCT is one of a number of well-funded bodies that promote the mass-production of millions of pheasants and partridges every year, in order that they can be released and shot for pleasure. Pro-shooting magazines have themselves acknowledged that many of the shot birds are not eaten and that some are buried in specially dug pits.

Says Animal Aid Shooting Consultant, Kit Davidson:

'The Game Conservancy Trust's latest project - aimed at justifying the cruelty of pheasant shooting and which is funded by a pro-shooting lobby group - would be laughably absurd, if it were not for the animal suffering and environmental degradation associated with this bloodsport. The latest suggestion is that we would have few chances to enjoy "warm, sunny" walks in British woodland, if those woods were not given over to bloodthirsty bird killers. Claiming that shooting produces environmental benefits is an attempt to distract the general public and opinion formers from the irredeemably sordid nature of the bird killing industry.'

* Background on the Game Conservancy Trust:

  • Chairman of the GCT Council is Mark Hudson, who was formerly chairman of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), an organisation with similar aims to the Countryside Alliance (CA).
  • A GCT vice chairman is the Earl of Dalhousie, owner of one of Britain's largest and richest sporting estates. From Brechin Castle, he sells 'top drawer' pheasant shooting, while from his Invermark Estate, the quarry on offer is grouse.
  • One of the GCT Council's elected trustees is Richard Burge - a former chief executive of the CA.
  • A former chairman of the GCT and current 'ex-officio Trustee' is Andrew Christie-Miller. His estate is at Clarendon Park near Salisbury in Hampshire. In October 2003, League Against Cruel Sports investigators reported snaring abuse at Christie-Miller's estate. Around 50 snares - rather than being fixed in place - were set on drag poles (i.e. they were free-moving). Because animals captured by these devices could drag themselves off and hide in the woods, they were likely to suffer more and for longer than animals caught in fixed traps. Several drag poles were set close to an active badger sett. The GCT advises against the use of drag pole snares and endangering badgers.
  • A former elected trustee of the GCT is the Viscount Dunluce, who has a major shooting estate in Northern Ireland at Glenarm Castle. A day's shooting of 400 birds with two nights accommodation will cost each individual in an eight gun syndicate £1,795.

More Information

  1. Animal Aid's exposure of the GCT as an accomplice in the promotion of bloodsports, A Law Unto Themselves, can be viewed at http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/CAMPAIGNS/pheasant/ALL/1457//
  2. For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler or Kit Davidson on 01732 364546. After hours 0791 8083 774.
  3. ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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