17/10/2018

The Ecologist – what they don’t want their readers to know

Few publications run blatantly misleading stories. It’s embarrassing. However, The Ecologist website has gone one better. Despite initially agreeing to accept a response to a misleading story, it has decided not to. Perhaps it was too embarrassing.

You can read our response below:

The public will not thank the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) for misleading them. It is plainly daft to claim that all the pheasants not going to game dealers are being dumped. The suggestion is no more logical than claiming farmers are busy burning, burying or fly-tipping the 800 million chickens they do not sell to butchers. It stands to reason that the rest of the chickens go to other places, such as supermarkets, farm shops and market stalls.

For pheasants particularly, there are many other routes by which they can reach our plates. This would explain why LACS has not been able to take anyone to see where these pheasants are being ‘dumped’, despite the claim that it is happening on an industrial scale.

The truth is that shooting has never been so popular or accessible. Like so many other things that people do for enjoyment, its popularity is not driven by market price or prize money. From football to fishing, popularity is driven by enjoyment. This is no bad thing, and those who go shooting enjoy getting involved and participating in the countryside. The fact that they also actively support and promote game sales is both entirely responsible and commendable.

The suggestion that we should stop eating pheasant because those that go shooting enjoy what they do is equally bizarre. People who eat meat do so for enjoyment. For years vegetarians have shown that we do not need to eat meat, but few of them attempt to impose this lifestyle choice on others. We do know that those looking for food that is low in fat and high in protein, vitamin B and iron can choose to buy pheasant meat. Those who do will be eating something that has been freely flying around the countryside, unlike most chickens, which are typically killed when they are 42 days old having hardly left their shed.

Luffingham claims pheasant shooting is just about the money. However, repeated Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) studies have shown it is also about conservation. In one study of 34 farms we found that those with a shoot had 30% more farmland birds. These species may be declining across our countryside, but they can clearly thrive where shoot management is providing places for them to nest, food for them to eat, and reducing fox and crow numbers to help their survival. When Natural Resources Wales reviewed this, and other evidence, it concluded that pheasant shooting should continue on its land.

However, it then took the irrational decision to ignore its own recommendation, following intervention from the Welsh Minister for Environment. The taxpayer has been left with the £48,000 bill for the unused evidence review and the imminent loss of wildlife that will follow.

When we say wildlife will be lost, we should call it destroyed, a point recently made by RSPB Vice President and BBC presenter Chris Packham. He said that “our lazy, self-excusing terminology is representative of our chronic acceptance of such appalling catastrophes”. Our wildlife needs our support, and game shooting can help with that. The RSPB came to the same conclusion when it reviewed the evidence and said: “The positive effects of habitat management are likely to result in a positive net conservation impact.”

Many of these impacts are understood thanks to the peer-reviewed science conducted by the GWCT. It is time for LACS to produce the evidence to back up its claims. Otherwise, Chris Packham is right to say “lobbying from vested interest groups working to discredit such facts should be terminated immediately”.

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Comments

The Ecologist – what they don’t want their readers to know

at 13:17 on 23/10/2018 by Barry Adams

What a well written article. Unsurprising that the Ecologist won't publish it. In terms of balanced argument, it won't be appreciated that vehement anti-shooting voices have had their words turned. Townie sentimentalisation of arguments falls apart when presented with facts. Please find another platform to get this article to a wider audience.

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