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How can I stop shooting
taking place near me?

If you’re disturbed by (or simply don’t like) shooting talking place near where you live, what can you do about it?

It’s far more difficult than it should be to stop shooting taking place near you, because shooting is currently legal and legislation is weighted very heavily in favour of shooters rather than the people who want to live in a quiet and peaceful countryside.

Protect the Wild are not lawyers so we can only offer suggestions rather than legal advice, but in our experience to begin to stop shooting you have to be able to answer three key questions:

  • do the shooters have permission from the landowner to shoot on their land (ie has the landowner given permission to shoot on that site),
  • what was being shot (what species),
  • and were any laws being broken.

If the shooters (or the shooting syndicate) include the landowner or they had permission from the landowner to be on the land (and that may well be the case even in or near sites the public use – shooting takes place in huge areas of our National Parks for instance), it is very difficult under current law to stop shooting taking place.

As well as having licences for any firearms (which is almost impossible to verify as a member of the public), all shoots are obliged to show consideration for others, and individual guns must ensure that their activities take account of others’ interests. Everyone involved in shooting should have regard for other people’s property and safety and the frequency of shooting must not give rise to unreasonable nuisance to neighbours. Shoots must obtain permission before entering neighbouring land. If it can be shown that shooting is impacting your right of enjoyment of your property, or that shooters have come onto your property without your permission, it may be worth consulting a solicitor for legal advice but they will need to be given detailed records showing the frequency of the shoot etc, and it may be an expensive option.

If you can show that the shooters didn’t have permission to shoot on a site then they are trespassing. The police may not respond to trespass ordinarily, but trespassing with a firearm makes it armed trespass which they should always respond to. If the land is council-owned or a protected site then that is another route to follow: contacting the landowner in that case may (eventually) result in shooting being stopped on the site.

Do you know what was being shot? While most birds are protected by UK law at all times of the year, landowners can use a ‘general licence’ – a virtual piece of paper – to ‘control’ some birds species almost all year around. There is very little protection for Wood Pigeons and some corvids (crows), for instance.  Grey Squirrels also have very limited protection as a non-native species and can be shot all year round. The Pheasant and Partridge shooting ‘season’ runs until 1st Feb, so any organised ‘pheasant’ shoot will have to end then.

Were any laws broken in terms of shooting near a road, using a decoy bird, killing protected wildlife like badgers etc. It might be worth checking for any evidence left behind once the shooters have left the site – but only when and if it is absolutely safe to do so.

Do any of your neighbours feel the same way as you do? Multiple complaints to a local paper, the council, your MP etc are usually better than trying to complain as an individual.