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GAME SHOOTING

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 sport.

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 lingering deaths

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 and chicks.

    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 kill.

    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 wounded birds.

    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.