Dead birds on Natural Resources Wales’ land

Posted on the 10th July 2017

As Natural Resources Wales consults on whether to continue to allow shooting on its land, an Animal Aid undercover investigation finds dead, trapped and suffering game birds.

For the second time1 in as many investigations, Animal Aid has discovered appalling animal suffering on Natural Resources Wales’ land. The national campaign group believes that this has been caused by neglect or bad management.

On 19 June 2017, when temperatures in the UK had nudged 30ºC, an Animal Aid investigator visited the land leased for shooting by NRW at Cwm Gwnen.

Our investigator saw an estimated 35-40 young pheasants, dead on the ground inside a release pen.

Equally disturbing were the four birds who had become stuck in between two sections of wire mesh. We believe they must have died from either dehydration or strangulation.

Another three birds were trapped in between the two sets of wire mesh but were still alive. Animal Aid’s investigator managed to free them so that they could return to their pen.

The stated purpose of the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds is to ‘provide practical guidance in relation to section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 affecting birds bred and reared under controlled conditions for the purpose of release for sport shooting, together with birds retained for breeding purposes.

Specifically, the Code states: ‘Release pens should be well prepared prior to the arrival of the birds, by ensuring they are of sufficient size, provide shelter and have adequate feeders and drinkers of a type familiar to the birds available on site. The siting of release pens should take into consideration the need to minimise the risk of subsequent harm or injury, for example by predators or vehicles.’

Animal Aid promptly contacted NRW, the Welsh Government, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the RSPCA, asking them to take action to check the health of the remaining birds.

The response from NRW displayed, in our opinion, a lack of empathy for the welfare of the birds. An NRW employee informed us that, ‘the matter has been dealt with in accordance with our tenancy management procedures.’ We have received no explanation as to the cause of the deaths of the birds inside the pen. Animal Aid has written back to NRW to express our disappointment with its response.

Natural Resources Wales is consulting on whether to continue to allow shooting on its land. Animal Aid has requested that our latest findings be added to our submission of that process. The public consultation is due to commence soon.

Animal Aid’s petition, which calls for a ban on allowing shooting on public land that is managed by NRW now stands at almost 8,500 signatures.

Says Isobel Hutchinson, Director of Animal Aid:

There are serious questions to be answered as to how and why so many young birds died on land that is managed by Natural Resources Wales. It is particularly heartbreaking to imagine the lingering death that must have been endured by the birds who became stuck between the two sets of wire mesh. As if shooting birds for sport were not cruel enough in itself, our investigations would strongly indicate that NRW is not aware of, or in control of, what is taking place on NRW estates.

‘It is imperative that NRW considers our evidence, as well as the overwhelming public opposition to killing birds for sport, and uses this consultation process to bring an end to the shooting of live birds on its land.

Footage filmed during the investigation

One dead and one live bird caught in the mesh

Dead bird caught in the mesh

Dead birds inside the release pen

Notes for Editors

  • 1. In November 2015, Animal Aid visited one of the sites leased for ‘game bird’ shooting by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and found, contrary to the Code of Good Shooting Practice, feed hoppers set up beside the road. We also found pheasants drifting up and down the roads, vulnerable to traffic, and one pheasant dying on the road.
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