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PRO-SHOOTING LOBBY ATTACKS SHOOTING! BASC criticises its own supporters
Posted 1 October 2003
In a feature appearing in the Sunday Telegraph (12 October, 2003), the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has criticised its own supporters by claiming that pheasant shooting has become too easy and stating "[it] is damaging woodland because commercial breeders are flooding the countryside with birds".
The BASC recommends that no more than 500 birds be 'bagged' on one day, yet commercial shoot organisers admit permitting hundreds more than that being taken. Jeffrey Olstead, an official at BASC, said big companies were damaging the sport and the countryside by introducing new and unacceptable practices: "Too many birds are being bred by big shoots and inexperienced people are being encouraged to go after too many birds - sometimes killing more than they can remember."
Echoing Animal Aid's investigations, which have found that millions of birds die of starvation, exposure, predation or disease before shooters even have a chance to blast them from the skies, the BASC also voiced its concern that some shoots are not giving birds enough time to acclimatise to the wild before releasing them as living targets.
Pheasant chicks are reared by their thousands in hatcheries where the severe overcrowding causes symptoms of aggression and frustration. To prevent birds wounding each other, they are mutilated by having their beaks 'trimmed' and clips inserted into their nostrils. Pheasants are shot for pleasure, rather than for food, but because of confusion over whether shooting is an agricultural or leisure activity, the birds are not even afforded the pathetic legal protection which is in place for other types of farmed poultry such as ducks, turkeys and geese.
Brian Kibble, shoot manager of an 8,000 acre estate in Wiltshire, described the situation to the Telegraph as: "They are just chicken farming - breeding for the shoot by providing easy targets. It is nothing to do with the traditional countryside."
The industry, the Telegraph article reported, is also concerned that the increasingly large number of pheasants being bred is a threat to wildlife with species such as sand lizards and slow worms, and plants including violets and yellow archangel potentially under threat from the millions of birds released each year.