Please note - we will keep information in this area as up to date as possible, however, due to the fast-moving nature of the current situation, news and guidelines are constantly changing. We will endeavour to update with further guidance when appropriate.
The efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 have intensified, with the country now in lockdown. The Government have published a list of very specific guidelines about who and when it is acceptable to leave your home. However, when it comes to the countryside there are grey areas surrounding issues such as animal welfare and crop protection.
We are pressing DEFRA to establish specific advice covering these issues, but until such time as this is available, our advice is as follows:
Although these pursuits may take place in isolation, we are advising our members to not take part in any form of shooting or deer stalking. This is a national emergency, and it is one that requires a combined effort from us all. We have been told to remain at home as part of this combined effort, and whilst it is often possible to make loose interpretations of guidelines, such as “stalking is my exercise”, now is not the time to look for loop holes. Rather, it is a time to pull together. Furthermore, shooting and stalking often require travel to the ground, which is non-essential and therefore forbidden. They also carry various associated risks: in the event of an accident in the field we will be putting the emergency services under unnecessary pressure when they can least afford it, and it is therefore the responsibility of everyone to decide whether an activity is really necessary or not.
There are specific circumstances when shooting or stalking may be permissible. The shooting of certain wild birds for the protection of food crops under the terms of the General Licence is one example, with fox control during the lambing season being another. However, shooting should only take place if it is to prevent serious damage over the next three weeks; the duration of the lockdown. Whilst there may be occasions when this will be the case, in many instances it may be possible to delay the necessary control for three weeks without undue damage. If it is at all possible, please stay at home.
We will update you further when we have received specific guidance from DEFRA.
At all times, it is vital that everybody complies with government guidelines regarding the Covid-19 outbreak which can be found here.