Although the term "game shooting" also refers to shooting mammals, such as
hare and deer, this leaflet mainly addresses the shooting of game birds for
The pheasant shooting season runs from October to February during which up to
12 million purpose bred birds are shot. Almost all pheasants are hand-reared
from incubated eggs and then released into pens where they are hand fed before
their final release into woods looked after by a gamekeeper..
Although the intention of shooters is to shoot the birds dead in flight, many
are only wounded and while some may be collected, many "escape" capture to die
Grouse shooting begins on the infamous "Glorious Twelfth" (of August) and
ends in December. In four months some half-million birds will be shot. Although
the birds are not hand-reared, their numbers are kept artificially high by
gamekeepers who rigorously exterminate their natural predators. As young heather
is a primary food source for grouse, areas of the moor are burned at different
times of year to produce heather of different ages and a continual food supply
for the birds. Grouse are known as the OEking of gamebirds¹ because of their
fast flight. This speed also makes a clean kill difficult and again, many are
shot without falling instantly to the ground, and fly on wounded.
The shooting season for wildfowl [waterbirds] differs for each species. Up to
1 million wildfowl of various species are shot every year. Wildfowlers hide
behind cover on wetlands and wait for the birds to fly by on the way to feeding
grounds. Alternatively, birds may be lured within shooting distance with decoys.
AND HOW TO STOP IT...
Hunt saboteurs have been sabotaging the shooting of birds (and other
creatures) for sport, since sabbing began in the sixties. Hunt saboteurs do not
believe that because a bird is not cute and cuddly like a fox or hare, its life
is worth less. Shooters and gamekeepers kill more wildlife than all foxhunts,
hare hunts, mink hunts, stag hunts and hare coursers put together.The argument
that ³at least the birds get eaten² is pathetic - you might as well say that
wearing fur is okay because it keeps you warm!
Whether at large grouse shoots or a pheasant shoot comprising of a few men,
the best tactic by far is to get with the guns and prevent them from shooting.
Most shooters will unload/put their guns away. The most common reaction is for
the drive to be abandoned. Hunt sabs have saved countless lives (and cost
organisers thousands of pounds) in this way.
SOME ARGUMENTS AGAINST SHOOTING:
- Because pheasants are initially hand reared they are ill-adapted to life
in the wild. With bird numbers in some holding pens equivalent to factory
farms, disease is rife among birds on some shooting estates. The unnaturally
high proportion of grouse on grouse moors have also led to serious epidemics
of disease among the birds. Red grouse numbers have been decimated by>
disease on some moors.
- There are approximately 5,000 gamekeepers in Britain whose task is to
preserve game birds long enough for their employers to shoot them. Although
all raptors (e.g. hawks falcons and owls) are now protected by law, many
gamekeepers continue to kill them with illegal traps and snares (several have
even been caught on film by Channel 4 and others.) The survival of the hen
harrier is threatened by gamekeepers who kill adult birds and destroy nests
- Gamekeepers are legally allowed to trap and snare a variety of British
species such as foxes, stoats weasels and squirrels (see right). Inevitably,
protected species such as badgers, otters and wildcats become accidental
victims to both legal and illegal snares. Far from being conservationists,
shooters are only really interested in OEpreserving¹ the birds they wish to
- Many shot birds are only wounded and although they may fall to the ground
will have to wait to be collected and finally killed. Tens of thousands of
birds (when you consider the number shot each year) will be wounded but fly
on, to die painful and lingering deaths. It can cost £2000 for a days shooting
on some grouse moors, and as long as the money comes in many estate owners are
not bothered by inexperience among shooters - leading to more bad shots and
- The most popular wildfowling areas are seriously contaminated with spent
shot. Birds of many species ingest this poisonous shot while feeding, causing
them slow, painful and needless deaths.
AND SO THAT YOU KNOW...
Every hunting season for the last thirty-nine years, members of the Hunt
Saboteurs Association have been saving the lives of hunted animals. Our
organisation aims to help wild animals directly in the very place where they are
hounded and harassed for "sport" - the hunting field itself! The Hunt Saboteurs
Association works against all activities involving the torture of wildlife -
that includes the hunting of foxes, hare, deer and mink, hare coursing, badger
baiting, game shooting, falconry and angling.
We urge you to to join us - the Hunt Saboteurs Association does more than
campaign against bloodsports, it halts them in their tracks. Please help us to
save even more lives.