We thank those who have relentlessly pursued an end to pheasant shooting in the Welsh national forest, including Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM and the public who have backed us.
Natural Resources Wales has agreed to end pheasant shooting on Welsh public land in a landmark move which has been welcomed by leading wildlife-protection organisations.
The announcement from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) comes off the back of a three-year-long campaign by Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports, which included over 12,500 people signing a petition to the government agency.
The pheasant shooting leases have been strongly opposed by the Welsh Government.
Welsh Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM wrote to NRW over the summer to spell out how the administration does not support rearing, releasing and shooting game birds for sport on public land.
This position has strong public support: over 75 percent of the Welsh public disagreed with shooting birds for sport in a recent opinion poll.
Leasing public land for pheasant shooting has become extremely controversial in recent years because of the considerable negative impact on wildlife and the environment.
Large numbers of factory-farmed pheasants have been released into government woodland to be gunned down by shooting parties for sport. Many birds are not killed instantly and hit the ground suffering from painful wounds and injuries, only to be killed by having their necks broken or being hit over the head with a beater’s stick.
Native predators – including foxes, stoats, weasels, crows and magpies – are also killed to preserve large numbers of ‘game’ birds for the guns. These practices, which form a standard part of managing woodland for pheasant shooting, result in an overall decrease in biodiversity. This includes through displacing threatened wild birds, upsetting the delicate ecology and threatening rare butterfly species.
Bethan Collins, Senior Public Affairs Officer (Wales) at League Against Cruel Sports, said:“Natural Resources Wales is to be commended in the strongest terms for ensuring pheasant shooting in the Welsh national forest is being brought to an end. This outcome reflects strong opposition to the practice from the Welsh Government.
“We thank those who have relentlessly pursued an end to pheasant shooting in the Welsh national forest, including Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM and the public who have backed us. This is as much a victory for them as it is for the wildlife which has now been spared the gun.”
Fiona Pereira, Campaigns Manager at Animal Aid, said: “We are delighted that NRW has banned the cruel shooting of pheasants on public land. The campaign has shown that the vast majority of people strongly oppose the killing of animals for 'sport' and want to see an end to it.
“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.
“We’d like to thank all the animal lovers who helped the campaign – and secured a victory for game birds.”
Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This story was based on a press release from the League Against Cruel Sports.