Animal Aid

A law unto themselves - the game shooting industry under the spotlight (introduction)

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Anything but the truth

Game shooting is presented as a responsible, well-regulated industry. Its proponents claim that it is controlled by a stringent animal welfare code, produces valuable food, makes a vital contribution to the UK economy and conserves our heritage and countryside.

The reality that we expose in this report, is very different. We show that the shooting industry is unregulated and out of control. We demonstrate that the very organisations charged with setting policy and regulating toothless codes of practice include the most fanatical bloodsports enthusiasts in positions of authority. We demonstrate links between shooting and wildlife crime.

The deception that shooting is strictly controlled is encouraged by a combination of government laissez-faire and the industry's own high-powered public relations campaigns, many of which are disguised as impartial and independent. There are now six organisations promoting pheasant and partridge shooting. They are the Countryside Alliance, the Game Conservancy Trust, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Country Land and Business Association, the Game Farmers' Association and the National Gamekeepers' Organisation. This promotional activity has, in itself, become big business. According to The Field magazine (July 2006), the combined annual turnover of these organisations exceeds £23 million.

The image they seek to promote is one of responsible and economically beneficial custodianship of the countryside. But beneath the façade is a bloodsport whose practitioners operate outside the basic animal protection laws; an enterprise that sees just a small percentage of birds released go into the food chain; that ruthlessly eliminates any creature perceived to be interfering with shooting; and which, rather than share its profits with the nation, finds many shoot operations depriving the country of due taxes - a practice now under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.

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