Bloodsports’ tiny following

Posted on the 4th September 2015

We are often fed rhetoric from the shooting and hunting fraternities claiming that there is an ever growing interest in their pastimes. However, a new survey conducted by Natural England (NE) shatters this carefully cultivated image. Of 18 outdoor pursuits examined by NE, participation in ‘fieldsports’ ranked 17th – a tiny fraction ahead of swimming outdoors. Twice as many people participated in ‘appreciating scenery from [their] car’ and five times as many preferred to watch wildlife, rather than shoot it or chase it with hounds.

There is no shame in engaging in a minority pursuit. However, shooting’s powerful political connections translate into millions of pounds annually in public subsidies. Moreover, the price of a gun licence is much less than the administrative costs involved in issuing it – and, more seriously, shooters are allowed to get away with significant environmental damage. This includes the annual release of tons of spent lead shot, destructive grouse moor management techniques; and, of course, the killing of a vast number of foxes, stoats, weasels, corvids and other indigenous species that it brands pests and vermin.

Given that this destructive activity is so unpopular, we suspect that the majority of the public would prefer to subsidise the much more celebrated and benign pursuit of appreciating scenery through a car window.

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