John Lewis bloodsports club disbands under animal rights pressure

Posted on the 19th January 2001

The John Lewis store group has ended the rearing and shooting of pheasants on its Hampshire estate, it was announced today (January 19). The move comes just 16 weeks into a high profile campaign by national animals rights group Animal Aid, which involved protests inside and outside the group's stores across the UK, and at the Hampshire estate itself. Some 70,000 hard-hitting leaflets - some addressed to the public, others to the company's staff - were distributed.

The Partnership’s Shooting Club had just 27 members, 22 of whom were department managers or more senior. The Animal Aid campaign – which came on the back of long-running protests by grassroots activists – prompted a rebellion within the ranks of the group’s 37,000 employees. Many staff had protest letters published in the company’s in house journal. The growing pressure forced the Shooting Club into disbanding at its January 17 annual general meeting. It had been in existence for more than 40 years.

Every year, thousands of pheasants were reared at the Partnership’s 3,800-acre estate in Leckford, with around 200 being blasted from the sky on each daily shoot. In an attempt to limit the bird-on-bird aggression inside the crowded rearing sheds and release pens, John Lewis pheasants were fitted with painful beak clips and plastic blinkers. The company also admitted to trapping and killing foxes, stoats and weasels – animals attracted to such unnaturally large numbers of birds in one area.

During an annual shooting season that runs from October 1 to February 1, John Lewis staged some 28 daily shoots, one quarter of which were laid on for fee-paying outsiders. These too will end, a company spokesman has confirmed.

The Animal Aid campaign arose out of a major investigation into the rearing and shooting of pheasants throughout the UK. A report and undercover film, called The Killing Fields were published on September 29, 2000. They revealed that every year in UK, some 36 million shed-reared birds are shot for pleasure. A further 12 million are wounded but never retrieved.

Said Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler:

“Most John Lewis staff and customers had no inkling of what was being laid on by a company that prides itself on its ethical trading policy. Once we informed them, The John Lewis shooting club – which consisted of a small elite – could not withstand the growing pressure. We are delighted by the outcome and extend our gratitude to the many staff and a great many customers who took such an important stand against what is a squalid and cowardly bloodsport.”

A new phase in the Animal Aid campaign against the pheasant shooting industry will be announced shortly.

Notes to Editors

  • More information: Andrew Tyler, Yvonne Taylor, or Kay Holder on 01732 364 546.
  • We can supply pheasant-rearing, shooting and trapping images in jpeg format. You can also view the resources used for the John Lewis campaign.
  • Undercover footage of pheasant shooting and the full Killing Fields report can be viewed and downloaded here – The Killing Fields.
  • We have an ISDN line for broadcast quality interviews.

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