Animal Aid targets pro-bloodsports government with Weekend of Action

Posted on the 23rd November 2007

During the weekend of 15-16 December, supporters of national campaign group Animal Aid, will take to the streets of their local cities and towns to highlight the government's backing for the bloodsports lobby. Street stalls will be set up with ‘Labour Supports Bloodsports’ posters and leaflets, with the aim of generating public opposition to the government's stance.

At its recent Party Conference, Labour vice chair and Reading West MP Martin Salter hosted a reception for pro-shoot lobby group, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC). Salter was recently made a BASC ‘Centenary Patron’. Ministers who gave pro-shoot speeches at the event included the Sports Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe; Rural Affairs Minister, Jonathan Shaw; and Home Office Minister, Vernon Coaker.

Other born-again bloodsports enthusiasts within the government include Schools Minister, Jim Knight, and even Animal Welfare Minister, Jeff Rooker.

Rooker is charged with overseeing the 2006 Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which has been heralded by the government as the most significant animal protection initiative in nearly a century. But pro-shoot elements within the government are intent on using the Act to legitimise the industrialised farming of pheasants and partridges to be shot for sport.

As part of the production process, scores of thousands of breeding birds are confined in metal battery cages for the whole of their productive lives. The AWA was an opportunity to outlaw these contraptions through a new Code of Practice. Instead, the government arranged for the Working Group that is currently writing the Code to be dominated by shooting industry figures.

And to help the Committee with its deliberations, DEFRA has commissioned ‘scientific research’ into ‘gamebird’ production from the avowedly pro-shooting Game Conservancy Trust (now renamed Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust).

Animal Aid, which first exposed gamebird battery cages in November 2004, has revisited two of the four producers known to operate the system (see Note 1). The undercover footage we shot during the height of the 2007 egg production season shows stressed, diseased, wounded and feather-pecked birds – as well as several dead pheasants, lying on the metal grill floors.

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:

‘It is entirely hypocritical that the same government that helped secure a ban on hunting with dogs should seek to appease bloodsports fanatics by promoting the shooting of birds for sport. Animal Aid activists will be letting the public know that this government has blood on its hands and will be asking voters to urge their local political representatives to end Labour’s involvement with the pro-shoot lobby.’

Notes to Editor

  1. Animal Aid’s covert filming of gamebird battery cages was undertaken on June 20 at G & A Leisure, Bettws Cedewain, Powys, and on June 21 at Hy-Fly Game Hatcheries, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancs.
  2. The Code of Practice for Gamebird Production is expected to be brought into force in 2009.
  3. Around 40 million factory-farmed pheasants and partridges are released for shooting every year.
  4. Many shot birds are not eaten. Country Life magazine has reported that some are buried in specially dug pits.
  • More information from Andrew Tyler at 01732 364 546.
  • Still images ‘grabbed’ from the undercover battery cage footage available on request.

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