Vegan animal rights activists liberated 9,000 pheasants from a UK game farm last week.
The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has taken credit for the raid, saying it was part of its aim to 'dismantle the shooting industry farm by farm, shoot by shoot'. The latest action follows two night raids last month in Cornwall and Wiltshire.
An estimated 35 million game birds in the UK are bred on factory farms in conditions welfare organization the League Against Cruel Sports says are similar to intensively reared chickens. But these birds are not protected by humane slaughter laws - they are farmed purely for sport with LACS saying 'many are wounded and left to suffer'.
'Until the end'
Speaking about the raid on social media, an ALF spokesperson said: "A clear path was made so that the birds headed towards the forest and away from the road. Grain was put down to attract them in that direction.
"We surveyed the 45 breeding pens for pheasants then removed a panel from each one of these pens, herded the pheasants out into the corridor then further on and out of the farm directly into a wooded area. Each pen contained around 200 birds, making the total around 9,000.
"Shoots put in orders to game farms well in advance each year before the shooting season begins. With game farms being targeted across the country many shoots may well go out of business this year. We will continue to dismantle the shooting industry farm by farm, shoot by shoot, until the end."
The life cycle of a pheasant raised for shooting
The raid was branded 'mindless vandalism' by pro-bloodsports pressure group The Countryside Alliance, with its Chief Executive Tim Bonner telling The Times: "This latest attack is completely unacceptable. By releasing birds without making provision for them to adapt to the wild many of them will die as a result of these thoughtless and ignorant acts.
"Rural businesses and livelihoods have enough challenges to contend with without having to deal with intimidation and potential attacks from extremists. Game farmers should not have to live in fear so we advise farmers to increase their security.
"These attacks must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. This is nothing but mindless vandalism and cruelty dressed up as a political statement."