Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
Sunday marks the start of the pheasant shooting season although, as the shooting of game birds on a Sunday remains an offence, those of you who are very keen will have to wait until Monday to tackle Britain’s favourite game bird.
Game shooting, with the pheasant to the fore, is one of the fastest growing activities in the countryside. The remarkable growth in popularity of driven shooting has brought jobs and investment into the countryside, including into many areas where there are few opportunities for the rural economy to diversify from traditional farming businesses.
With that growth, however, come challenges. The market for game in the UK has grown consistently thanks to campaigns like our Game to Eat initiative and it is now a surprise not to find a game option on the menu in restaurants and rural pubs during the season. With demand for shooting growing equally fast, however, it is incumbent on everyone involved to ensure that there is a market for the game they shoot.
Driven shooting has expanded into new areas, whilst the populations of many villages continue to alter, and an understanding of shooting cannot be assumed. What can be assumed is that shooting will always attract more scrutiny than other rural activities because it sits high on the animal rights agenda. In all circumstances shoots must, therefore, be able to demonstrate the highest possible standards and that is where the ‘Code of Good Shooting Practice’ comes in.
The Code is firmly based both in the decades of research carried out by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust science, and the respect for quarry and the countryside which are fundamental to our shooting culture. Everyone who shoots should be aware of the Code and abide by it, so I would urge all who are about to embark on the new pheasant season to read, or re-read, the Code of Good Shooting Practice to remind themselves of the standards it sets.
Follow Tim at @CA_TimB