Gamebird Shooting

The shooting industry aims to present itself as natural and organic. However there is growing moral condemnation of shooting for sport, and increasing public criticism of the suffering inflicted on gamebirds and other animals.

The shooting of live birds for sport is big business and takes place in many countries around the world, being most prevalent in North America, the UK and other parts of Europe. The birds are often raised in poor battery-style conditions, and wild mammals are killed in large numbers to limit predation of gamebirds prior to the beginning of the shooting season.

What is it?

Live target shooting involves the rearing of birds such as pheasants, ptarmigan, grouse and woodcock for shooting. The birds are often reared in cramped, battery-style conditions before they are released as “wild” targets for sport shooters. To limit the number of birds killed prior to the start of the shooting season, predators such as foxes are targeted and killed. Snares are the main method used by gamekeepers to target predator species.

What you should know

  • The shooting industry would have us believe that game birds are nature’s stock and that the yearly slaughter is a necessary control of numbers – benefitting the countryside and furnishing our tables with organic, free-range fare.
  • In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Each year, over 35 million pheasants and 6.5 million partridges are produced to be used as live targets in the UK. These birds are often reared in appalling, battery conditions and, when eventually released, are subjected to yet more suffering.
  • Approximately 8 million of the birds do not even reach the sight of the gun but instead die from exposure, cannibalism, predation, traffic or starvation as they are unable to feed themselves in the wild. Of the birds which do die at the hands of shooters, the vast majority will not end up on a dinner table. Instead, they are dumped as waste product and buried in mass graves, which can pose serious environmental hazards.
  • And it’s not just the birds which suffer. In an effort to protect game birds from natural predators, gamekeepers snare, trap, poison and bludgeon 12,300 animals each day, including protected species such as badgers and otters.

What can you do

  • Report incidents of shooting on UK public access land to the League Against Cruel Sports on 01483 524 250. This is especially important if landowners are preventing access whilst shooting is in progress.
  • Has a shoot moved into your area, or is operating near where you are staying? Keep an eye on the effect on local wildlife and report any changes you notice to the League Against Cruel Sports.

Where is this applicable?

Gamebird shooting takes place in many countries across the world, but is most prevalent in North America, the UK and other parts of Europe.

Links to other organisations for further information

This article was contributed by the League Against Cruel Sports