Victory for pheasants as Natural Resources Wales bans shooting on its land

Posted on the 20th September 2018

National Resources Wales has confirmed that it will stop leasing out public land for shooting.

At a board meeting today (20 September 2018) Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has confirmed that it will stop allowing shooting to take place on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate (WGWE). This means that it will stop leasing out public land for shooting. The announcement follows a lengthy campaign by national organisation Animal Aid, which began in October 2015.

Natural Resources Wales is the public body charged with managing Welsh public land, on behalf of the Welsh Government and the people of Wales. Animal Aid first became involved in this issue when a well-placed source informed us that NRW intended to increase the shooting rights it had inherited from predecessor bodies. NRW informed us that it was tendering bids for shooting on new parcels of land.

In response to the launch of Animal Aid’s campaign, the Minister at the time, Carl Sargeant, promised a Review would be carried out. That review concluded earlier this year. Part of the Review process involved a public consultation. Of all the 4,700 responses received, 76 per cent wanted a ban on shooting birds on NRW land.[1]

Just before NRW’s Board meeting in July, the current Minister for Environment, Hannah Blythyn, wrote to NRW to affirm the government’s support for a ban on shooting on public land in Wales. In her letter, she stated ‘‘Whilst shooting on private land is for the landowner to decide, we need to take account of wider considerations and public views in considering what happens on the Welsh Government estate. Given the wider policy issues and concerns, the Welsh Government does not support commercial pheasant shooting, or the breeding of gamebirds or the birds being held in holding pens on the estate prior to release on the Welsh Government Estate.’

The League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid also commissioned a poll to gauge opinion. 74 per cent of people polled in Wales thought that the shooting of birds for sport should be made illegal. After learning how chicks are bred for sport shooting, 76 per cent said they oppose the shooting of game birds for sport on publicly owned land in Wales.[2]

Animal Aid also collected 12,700+ signatures in a petition which called on NRW to ban shooting on its land.

Despite overwhelming arguments and support for a ban, Natural Resources Wales decided at the July meeting that it would allow shooting to continue but stated ‘NRW staff will now look at how to implement the Minister’s position, considering any legal implications of reviewing the leasing of rights for pheasant shooting.

At today’s Board meeting, the decision was taken to end shooting on NRW land. The current leases will not be renewed when they expire on 1 March 2019.

Says Animal Aid Campaign Manager, Fiona Pereira:

This is a wonderful victory for the people of Wales and for the birds who are purpose-bred and cruelly used as feathered targets for shooters. Our campaign has proven that the vast majority of people abhor the killing of animals for “sport” and want no part of it.

We are delighted that the Welsh Government has stepped in to ensure that animal cruelty has no place on public land.

NRW now has the opportunity to use that land for positive, educational, conservation and leisure activities that are inclusive and that are kind to animals and to the environment. We hope that NRW will become a role model to other public bodies that also want to bring about an end to the shooting of birds.

 We’d like to thank everyone who helped the campaign – and brought about a victory for game birds.

 

Editors’ notes:

  • Around 50 million pheasants and partridges are purpose-bred – often on huge factory farms – for the shooting industry each year. Animal Aid has repeatedly investigated such farms and has found that the birds used for egg production are often kept in raised laying cages where stress and injuries are commonplace. Their eggs are taken from them, and the offspring are hatched and reared in huge sheds, and then pens, until it is time for them to be killed by shooters. Another unpalatable aspect of the bloodsport is the killing of wildlife carried out to keep the birds alive until the start of the shooting season. Game keepers target foxes, stoats and corvids. Even birds of prey can fall victim.
  • For more information, contact Isobel Hutchinson on 01732 364546

[1] https://cdn.naturalresources.wales/media/685941/item-5-nrw-b-b-2818-board_firearms_review_june18.pdf?mode=pad&rnd=131751920360000000

[2] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th – 9th April 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+).

 

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