The new Welsh policy on shooting would even make Donald Trump blush. The minister, Hannah Blythyn, has announced her support for the shooting of everything from deer, foxes, crows, magpies and rabbits to squirrels – but bizarrely not pheasants. She cited public opinion as the reason for this inconsistency, but this new poll suggests it’s her personal opinion that is driving this muddle.
A new independent survey reveals she was wrong to end pheasant shooting on Welsh government land and to go against the recommendation of the government body paid to advise her on the environment. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) concluded that pheasant shooting can positively contribute to the Welsh countryside. Her personal intervention now appears to be an expression of her own views rather than public opinion.
Majority support pheasant shooting in Wales
The independent poll found 61% of Welsh voters believe pheasant shooting should continue. This is in stark contrast to an earlier poll commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid.
However, 85% of those questioned felt the wider conservation, social and employment benefits that stem from pheasant shooting are poorly understood. For example, the vast majority had no idea about the NRW evidence review concluding that pheasant shooting can positively contribute to biodiversity and community cohesion, as set out in the Welsh Environment Act and the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act. NRW decided pheasant shooting should continue, and it still stands by that decision.
The independent poll, commissioned by the GWCT, demonstrated precisely why policy makers ask bodies, such as NRW, to conduct expert reviews – as the majority of those previously polled had not been told of the environmental or social benefits of pheasant shooting. The poll identified a strong correlation between understanding of these benefits and support for pheasant shooting.
Support for the NRW position on shooting pheasants
The NRW board accepts the recommendation to continue to allow pheasant shooting on the strength of the scientific evidence and their experience. At the public consultation stage, the public were not supportive, but this latest poll simply suggests those that responded may not be representative of the Welsh population. Similarly, it may also explain why the LACS/Animal Aid opinion poll came to an entirely different result – they may have failed to share the positive evidence.
57% - say the Welsh Government was wrong to ignore the NRW evidence review
85% - say the benefits of shooting are poorly understood
61% - say pheasant shooting should continue in Wales
This survey was conducted by CCB Fastmap Ltd. They received responses from 1,000 adults in Wales.
To read previous posts on this story visit here, here, here and here.
Have your say
You can copy and paste the letter below and email it to the Minister and your local AM. You can find your local AM contact details online at senedd.assembly.wales/mgFindMember.aspx
Alternatively, if you would like to send a copy of this letter shown below, click here to download a printable version.
Dear [Welsh Assembly Member],
Re: NRW Shooting on Public Land Review
Hannah Blythyn, Welsh Minister for Environment, recently claimed that it is Welsh Government policy to cease pheasant shooting on land held by the Welsh Government Woodland Estate. That request has now been implemented to the surprise of many, because no such policy has been debated or published. I can only assume the announcement is a personal opinion. If this is the case, I believe it should be investigated because it would constitute an abuse of position in public office.
This is important for both the Welsh environment and those affected because it goes against the findings of a £45,000 review conducted by Natural Resources Wales (NRW). It spent 2,000 hours reviewing over 250 pieces of evidence and considered 4,700 public consultation responses, over two years, measured against the following Welsh legislation:
- The Environment (Wales) Act (2016)
- Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015)
They identified the evidence that pheasant shooting can positively contribute to biodiversity, well-being, rural enterprise, jobs and community cohesion, and stated it should continue on the existing basis.
It now appears the findings did not agree with the Minister for Environment’s personal views and she sought to intervene by suggesting her views are those of the Welsh Government. There are three things that appear completely illogical:
1) If this policy had ever existed, NRW and the public would have known about it. There is no such policy on the Welsh Government website.
2) Hannah Blythyn states that she supports the use of guns to shoot deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, crows and pigeons because their management supports environmental objectives. However, NRW concluded from the evidence that pheasant shooting supported both the Environment (Wales) Act and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act, so why is it Welsh Government policy to cease shooting pheasants?
3) Hannah Blythyn also stated that the Welsh Government position on pheasant shooting is driven by ‘public views’. What views are these? Are these the views captured in the NRW consultation? If so, the public was equally opposed to the shooting of deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, crows and pigeons. On what basis are the public views adopted for some species and not others?
There appears to be no Welsh Government policy on pheasant shooting, and Hannah Blythyn’s stated position on pheasant shooting is inconsistent with:
- Welsh legislation
- Natural Resources Wales (NRW) review (both the evidence and public consultation)
If my conclusion is wrong, I would like to understand why. Please can we meet to discuss this?