The Minister’s letter declaring that the Welsh Labour Government does not support commercial pheasant shooting is a warning shot to the shooting community across the UK. A growing number of politicians believe they can make political capital from attacking shooting, regardless of the evidence. The only way shooting can effectively defend itself in this climate is through effective self-regulation such as that provided by the British Game Alliance.
The letter was sent from Minister for Environment HannahBlythyn to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), as NRW’s review of the use of firearms on the Government estate came to a close. The review examined over 250 pieces of qualifying evidence, and came to the conclusion that firearms should continue to be used sustainably and that NRW should consider leasing land for pheasant shooting and wildfowling where appropriate.
In a clear demonstration that the threat shooting faces is more about politics than evidence, the Minister for Environment intervened at this point to tell NRW in a public letter that due to “policy issues and concerns… the Welsh Government does not support commercial pheasant shooting or the breeding of gamebirds”.
The Minister’s letter has the hundreds of thousands of game shooters, and the people whose livelihoods depend on it, wondering if this what the future holds under any potential Labour Government in Westminster.
The only way shooting can defend itself from this sort of political attack is to embrace credible shoot standards, and the British Game Alliance (BGA) is the first and only organisation to offer such assurance to the sector. The BGA’s assurance scheme is administered by Acoura, who also audit the Red Tractor and RSPCA Freedom Foods, and is driven by a programme of random inspections and rigorous responses to complaints.
Tom Adams, Managing Director of the BGA, said: “The political threat to shooting is real, and we know the strongest defences are a thriving game meat market and rigorously-enforced shoot standards. The BGA delivers on both these fronts, and Hannah Blythyn’s letter shows precisely why it is vital that every shoot join up. Every shoot that is not a member is a chink in shooting’s armour that can be exploited by those who want to attack us for political gain. Imagine a Minister in Westminster signing a letter saying the Government do not support shooting or game bird rearing, and imagine how much more catastrophic that will be if we have not embraced credible shoot assurance. The good news is 100 shoots have already signed up, but now we need the next 100, and the next 100 after that, until we have built a truly unified front.”