By Roger Draycott, Head of Advisory
The game management community, like all others, is reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus crisis. There is much uncertainty across the sector about the potential impacts on game shooting over the next 12 months. Of particular concern are what the prospects are for the forthcoming shooting season.
There are reports of some shoots cancelling all shooting, other shoots planning to carry on as normal, and others that are carrying on but with fewer days. A great number of shoots and guns have not yet taken any decisions and are waiting to see how the situation changes over the coming weeks.
Game farmers are optimistic that they will be able to supply shoots with orders for chicks and poults, and the laying season is already underway both in the UK and on the key game farms overseas. Game feed manufacturers are making and supplying game feed. Speak to your game farmer and feed supplier about availability and source locally wherever possible.
This time of year is critical for game farms and game shoots. The financial outlay of producing and buying eggs, chicks and poults is huge and is typically offset by deposits paid by guns booking their shooting for the forthcoming season.
Where it is possible to do so, we urge guns to support shoots by booking pegs/days and providing deposits now. This will provide reassurance and security across the sector and mean that the vital conservation work of gamekeepers like supplementary feeding, pest and predation control, and habitat management can continue this spring and deliver all the wider conservation benefits that arise on well-run game shoots.
This work, provided government advice on social distancing is followed, should be able to continue in many situations, but of course, all shoots will need to consider their own particular circumstances.
In these unprecedented times we urge everyone involved in game management to support each other in the coming weeks and months to ensure we come out the other side with a strong game and wildlife management sector.