Animal Aid

Avian flu: call for immediate halt to importation, breeding and release of game birds

Posted 8 April 2006

Following confirmation that the H5N1 strain of avian flu has now reached Britain, Animal Aid has called for a halt to the breeding, importation and release of pheasants and partridges for the 2006 shooting season. There is no indoor way of producing a bird destined to cope in the wild until it is shot. It will make no sense, the campaign group argues, for DEFRA to require the indoor housing of all poultry if it turns its back on the outdoors breeding, rearing and release of some 35 million 'game' birds.

Breeding of pheasants and partridges started on 1 April and ends in August, by which time the birds are beginning to be released for a shooting season that takes place between 1 September and 1 February. The release of so many birds will significantly increase the avian and human contagion risk.

Already the shooting press is selfishly and irresponsibly urging its readership to get its birds out into the woods before restrictions can be imposed.[1]

Says Animal Aid Shooting Consultant, Kit Davidson:

'Animal Aid does not conceal its opposition to the breeding and releasing of 'game birds' in order that they serve as feathered targets. But the spectre of Avian Flu makes it even more imperative that the breeding of game birds stops immediately. The government must act to impose just such a ban and thereby reduce the likelihood of unnecessary suffering for Britain's domestic and wild birds. The calamity and waste of the 2001 Foot and Mouth debacle may be avoided if DEFRA abandons its head-in-the-sand policy and develops a rational game bird strategy. DEFRA must keep one step in front of bird flu, not one step behind.'

Notes to Editors

  • Further Information contact: Andrew Tyler or Kit Davidson on 01732 364 546
  • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.
  • For full background, see the pheasant campaign index

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