Natural Resources Wales (NRW), a Welsh government sponsored organisation has announced that they will no longer renew leases to shoot game birds on public land. In addition, it will no longer support the breeding of pheasants for shooting on government-owned estates.
Animal rights campaigners have been working tirelessly towards this, with Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports protesting against the practice for many years, with sustained campaigning.
Animal Aid have exposed breaches of animal welfare on NWR land within the last year – Around 40 dead birds were found in a release pen and barren cages used to house the birds. They also presented a petition with 12,700 signatures opposing to the sport, prompting the decision.
Fiona Pereira, campaigns manager at Animal Aid, said: “The vast majority of people strongly oppose the killing of animals for ‘sport’ and want to see an end to it.” Speaking about the future, she added that the “NRW can now use that land for positive activities that are kind to animals and to the environment, and, importantly, set an example for other public bodies that also want to bring about an end to the shooting of birds.”
Pheasants aren’t the only ones killed as a result of this blood sport. Foxes, weasels and other natural predators to pheasants are slaughtered to keep the birds alive for people to shoot. This change to the ecosystem has a knock on effect, putting some other bird species and rare butterfly species at risk.
The public are becoming more aware of the ethics of shooting these birds, as more people oppose it. Over 35 million pheasants and partridges are bred each year for this season, and the demand for their meat is low, with birds consequently being dumped or incinerated.
Pro-hunting group Countryside Alliance has tried to say that the decision has taken on opinion over ‘scientific evidence’ and spoke of job losses. Despite the thoughts of this pro-slaughtering organisation, the new ruling is a win for wildlife, and thousands of birds will no longer be killed for human pleasure.