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Taking on the bird shooting industry: our plans

At Protect the Wild we say we want three things: to end hunting, end bird shooting, and end the badger cull.

Over the last year we have pretty much focussed on hunting with dogs: mainly fox hunting, but in a series of animations and Secret Monitor posts also stag and hind hunting, and hare coursing through another very well-watched animation. In the run-up to the General Election we upped our attacks on the ‘ineffective’ (and pointless) badger cull, working with the Badger Crowd, creating a petition aimed at the then Shadow Environment Secretary Steve Reed (he was of course handed the Environment brief by Sir Keir Starmer last week), and publishing a series of hard-hitting animations.

We haven’t done much on bird shooting though – but that is about to change…

Bird shooting is a trickier issue to tackle than either hunting or the badger cull. It’s currently lawful, unlike hunting with dogs, and birds (at least the ones that are shot in their millions like pheasants, partridges, and grouse) don’t seem to have the same public appeal as foxes, deer, hares, or indeed badgers. It was barely mentioned by any of the political parties in the run-up to the General Election – bar Labour telling a delighted audience at a joint BASC and Angling Trust rural reception in October 2023 that they would support ‘sustainable shooting’, an unfortunate pledge made by – Environment Secretary Steve Reed…

It’s hard to see in what sense Mr Reed thinks the bird shooting industry is ‘sustainable’. It’s actually responsible for an astonishing amount of cruelty, death, and destruction. It literally uses millions of birds as live targets (who certainly wouldn’t recognise a ‘sustainability’ argument). It sprays vast amounts of toxic lead shot across the countryside. It probably kills more foxes every week than hunting with hounds does in a year. It lays thousands and thousands of traps to kill countless numbers of stoats and weasels with no requirement to keep records or do population surveys. It is the sole driver of raptor persecution, suppressing the natural spread of Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers. It burns huge areas of moorland, one of the most important carbon stores in the whole of the UK. It is buying more and more land and trying to keep the rest of us out. And it does all of this while its lobbyist friends tell us all this is for ‘conservation’ and ‘biodiversity – and is of course ‘sustainable’…

Our plans

We will be stepping up our fight against this nasty and cruel industry and aiming to change the narrative around bird shooting. What we’re planning won’t be pretty or make for easy reading – this is a horrible industry (and at the scale it does things, it really is an industry) – but it needs to be stopped. So what are we looking to do?

  • First up we are close to launching our new initiative bloodbusiness.info, a community-driven, searchable database of the businesses that support shooting (and hunting with hounds). We see bloodbusiness.info as a mix of ‘finding out whether a business (maybe a pub, a high street retailer, a stately home, a brand of beer) supports shooting and hunting’ and a way to show just how many businesses are involved. Community-driven? We’d love you to contribute examples of ‘blood businesses’ and we’ll have a contact page that enables anyone to do just that.
  • We are planning a new set of information (pages and Substack posts) looking at the intensive rearing of pheasants and partridges in so-called ‘game farms’, based around ‘From Egg to Gun’.
  • To show even more vividly how the bird shooting industry is set up and operates, we are right now discussing investigation options which will take us all into the industry’s dark heart.
  • Following our Secret Monitor post on Devon’s Endsleigh Shoot (which has been viewed 45k times now!) we’re currently preparing a Secret Monitor post featuring footage of a partridge shoot in Northumberland National Park. I’ve been a birder for decades and the sheer scale of the operation and the number of birds and shooters involved is genuinely shocking.
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  • We’ve commissioned brilliant animator Ben at Firelily Studios again, this time to create an animation on the ‘Inglorious 12th’, looking at what really goes into the annual slaughter-fest that takes place on grouse moors from August 12th onwards. Ben’s remarkable animations for Protect the Wild have been viewed more than 35 million times already!
  • We’re planning more Substack posts like the recent one on Stink Pits, which has already been viewed 40k times. Our Substack newsletters go out to more than 80k subscribers – it’s a fantastic tool to reach a huge audience.
  • We are excited to announce that we are co-sponsors (with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Wild Justice) of Action for Wildlife Day, an event at Carsington Water organised by Hen Harrier Action. Taking place on 10 August we will be bringing our message of ‘empowering people to protect British wildlife’ into the Peak District – and of course explaining why we want to do everything we can to end the bird shooting industry. Both Rob and I are speaking at the event making this an excellent opportunity to showcase Protect the Wild. We are really looking forward to meeting supporters and colleagues alike, so do please stop by our stand and say hello!
  • And of course throughout the year we will be bolstering support for monitors and other groups that are out looking into shoots (and hunts of course) through our Protecting the Wild Support Network and Equipment Fund. Drones, bodycams, trail cams, camcorders – if we can help you be more effective in the field, we will do our very best to supply you with what you need.

 

That’s what we’re planning so far. As we say above, the information we will be presenting will sometimes be very difficult to read or view. Please remember, that’s not down to us – that’s the reality of this disgusting industry.