Gun-in-heather800wThe Countryside Alliance has chaired an “unprecedented” meeting of rural organisations and Assembly Members to discuss shooting interests in Wales. The meeting, sponsored by Mick Bates AM (Lib Dems), Brynle Williams AM (Welsh Conservative) and Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM (Plaid Cymru), was held at the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff on 12th May. It was also attended by colleagues of the Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones AM, and representatives of the Country Land and Business Association, the Game Farmers’ Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Farmers’ Union of Wales and the National Farmers’ Union. 

Charles Nodder of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and Game Farmers’ Association and Chris Davis of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust gave a presentation on the rearing of game birds, in the light of the recent consultation on the draft Code on the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes in Wales.

Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, chaired the meeting and commented: “This meeting was unprecedented; for so many organisations to come together in unity like this has been very positive.

“We were all there to represent shooting which is hugely important for the Welsh rural economy, contributing £73 million* and providing the full-time equivalent of 2,600 jobs. Shooting also influences the management of more than half a million hectares and £9.6 million is spent on improving habitat and managing wildlife.

“Ensuring a viable future for shooting in Wales is a key part of sustaining rural Wales, and ensuring that game birds bred in Wales are reared to the highest welfare standards is part of that. We all welcome the draft code and would urge the Welsh ministers not to adopt some of the last minute amendments made to the draft code in England. These have made the code unworkable and some of the recommendations, far from benefiting animal welfare, are actually welfare negative. The Animal Welfare Act already makes illegal any method or system of production which cannot meet the five freedoms. Codes should be based on sound evidence.

“We were encouraged by the Assembly Members’ enthusiasm and support. Defending and promoting shooting interests is at the centre of the Countryside Alliance’s agenda, and this opportunity to take its interests to the heart of Welsh Government was one not to be missed.”