The Welsh public is overwhelmingly opposed to shooting and killing 'game' birds for ‘'sport', says a new poll.
74 per cent of people in Wales believe shooting birds should be made illegal, according to the YouGov poll, which was commissioned by Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports.
The groups published the results to coincide with a major consultation on whether to allow shooting on public land by the largest Welsh Government Sponsored Body, Natural Resources Wales [NRW].
The consultation, which closes on April 25, is the culmination of a campaign initiated by Animal Aid.
According to the group, it found that NRW had 'not only inherited shooting agreements from its predecessor bodies but that it planned to expand them – without public consultation'.
This is despite fierce public opposition to bloodsports - according to the poll, 76 percent of respondents oppose the shooting of game birds for sport on publically owned land in Wales after learning how chicks are bred for sport shooting.
In addition, 82 percent oppose the use of cages for breeding 'game' birds, and only one per cent of people thought that pheasants and other birds bred for sport shooting should have lower standards of welfare than other birds - as is the case now.
According to Animal Aid: "At present, 'game' birds are protected only by a basic and limited code of practice on their welfare which is voluntary for breeders to comply with.
"Furthermore, the relevant Government agency – the Animal and Plant Health Agency [APHA] – does not inspect birds on ‘game’ farms unless a complaint has been made. This means that the birds are receiving a far lower level of scrutiny and protection even than other farmed animals."
Animal Aid says its investigation of 'game' birds kept on NRW land found breaches of welfare and industry Codes. In 2017, 35-40 dead game birds were discovered inside a release pen on NRW-leased land. In addition, undercover visits to 'game' farms found breeding birds kept in entirely barren cages, again in breach of the welfare Code.
This video contains footage of the grim conditions ‘game’ birds are reared in (Video: League Against Cruel Sports)
'Killed for fun'
Bethan Collins is Senior Public Affairs Officer (Wales) for the League Against Cruel Sports, which has campaigned alongside Animal Aid and local opposition groups to persuade NRW to stop using its land for shooting and instead use it for positive projects that will benefit people, animals and the environment.
She said: "People are starting to understand the life of cruelty endured by these birds, and they are saying they want it to end.
"These poor birds – millions of them in Wales – are intensively bred in cages and released only so they can be slaughtered for fun.
"Many will die or be killed before they even make it to the shooting estate, others will be wounded painfully rather than killed outright, and any suggestion that they all end up on someone's dinner table is false – many dead birds will be simply dumped."
'Time for the killing to stop'
Fiona Pereira, Campaigns Manager, Animal Aid, added: "I sincerely hope that NRW takes heed of these poll results which show the overwhelming opposition to the shooting of birds for sport on land in Wales.
"NRW manages the land on behalf of the people of Wales, and the opinion of the people could not be clearer. It’s time for the killing to stop."
Both animal welfare organizations plan on presenting the polling evidence and a petition, which has been signed by more than 12,500 people, to the both Natural Resources Wales and the National Assembly for Wales’ Petitions Committee today (April 24).