Pandering to the shooting industry

Posted on the 24th May 2012

One of the very first decisions Defra’s Animal Welfare Minister James Paice made when coming to office was to overturn a ban on the use of battery-style cages for breeding pheasants. Now, it seems, he is pandering to his shooting pals once again.

Citing research from the National Gamekeepers Organisation, which found that 76 per cent of gamekeepers believe buzzards have a harmful effect on pheasant shoots, Defra has come up with a plan that would allow buzzards’ nests to be destroyed and adult birds taken into captivity. Both of these activities are currently illegal.

Buzzards have long been persecuted by the shooting industry as they take advantage of the plentiful supply of young birds kept in captivity until they are released to be shot. Buzzard numbers, however, have increased in recent years due to legal protection and changing attitudes of lowland land managers towards birds of prey, and have now levelled out.

Defra is to spend £375,000 of taxpayers’ money on this project, despite the fact that buzzards normally scavenge on animals who are already dead and so are likely to have a small impact on pheasant breeding operations.

The shooting industry – which purpose-breeds 50 million pheasants and partridges every year – is notoriously intolerant of any other species that it believes interferes with its profits. Millions of wild animals and birds are poisoned, shot, snared, trapped and bludgeoned to death in order to protect the ‘crop’ of young pheasants. These non-native game birds are then turned out into the wild to take their chances, and those who are not killed on roads or by predation, are beaten into the air to provide sport for wealthy Guns.

Says Animal Aid:

‘The senseless suffering inflicted on animals by the shooting industry is already immense, and yet it demands the right to destroy even more of the natural world. And the so-called Animal Welfare Minister once again shows his contempt for animal protection by supporting such a plan. How much longer will James Paice be allowed to undermine animal protection in support of his pro-hunt, pro-shooting, friends?’

Please act now to put pressure on Defra to drop this cruel and senseless scheme.

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