Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:
The sun is about to rise over a brand-new shooting season, one that is tinged with uncertainty. Reports of low grouse numbers abound across the country, the Welsh Government has announced their antipathy to game shooting, and concerns mount over the spreading influence of anti-shooting ideologies. Yet this could actually be a historic moment of optimism for game shooting.
As a supporter of the Countryside Alliance, you will know the challenges currently facing game shooting and the measures we are taking to safeguard the future. The Welsh Government has announced it does not support pheasant shooting or game farming, turning their backs on thousands of rural livelihoods. This season will be the first in a decade in which there will not be shooting on Ilkley Moor. The rewilding agenda is creeping into mainstream debate. Supposedly neutral conservation charities such as the RSPB are allowing online animal rights activists to shape their agenda, causing them to campaign against grouse shooting even as chronically low grouse numbers give us a worrying glimpse of what a world without grouse shooting would look like.
Yet I think we should be more optimistic now than we have been in a long time. Yorkshire Water, the National Trust and the Ministry of Defence have all shown that it is entirely possible to stand up to the bullying tactics of the anti-shooting lobby. Yorkshire Water hit the nail squarely on the head when they told the press that “taking a confrontational approach by banning shooting in the areas where we control the rights would have less benefit than working together.“. The MoD were typically blunt, telling the Guardian “Grouse shooting does not damage the environment on MoD land“. The National Trust has taken on three new shooting tenants to work as partners in order to help the Trust deliver its conservation of the High Peak Moors Vision, a decision based on what the Trust believes is best for nature.
This growing number of organisations willing to stand up for the value of game shooting represents a more positive vision for the future of shooting, but we need to fight to ensure that this is the vision that prevails. We believe that genuine, credible self-assurance in shooting is the key to winning that fight, and that is why the Countryside Alliance has worked so hard to support the establishment of the British Game Alliance (BGA). The BGA’s Managing Director Tom Adams recently said that “the Countryside Alliance has been integral to the initial success of the BGA, offering their advice and resources at all times, for which we are forever grateful. The Alliance has been leading the way with their pro-active approach to ensuring the shooting community adopts self-regulation, which is a testament to the Alliance’s determination to secure a sustainable future for shooting.” It is that determination, and that resolve to lead and not follow, that puts the Alliance at the forefront of the fight to secure the optimistic vision of shooting’s future.
Joining the Countryside Alliance is the most crucial step anyone can take to protect the future of shooting. Together, we can work to give more organisations and more people the confidence to proudly stand up for shooting and the value it contributes to our countryside. Join us now by Direct Debit and receive a FREE slab Eley Hawk Zenith cartridges (RRP £100). Use the code DT918DD at the checkout. (Valid for the first 300 new members only.)
Follow me at @CA_TimB