Letter to my MP – response from Defra 3

The last part of the letter I received from Defra, via my MP Andy Sawford, was as follows:

‘4. Dr Avery asks about the main animal welfare concerns surrounding the rearing and release of pheasants and red-legged partridges.  It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide for its welfare needs, as required by the AWA.  In addition, the rearing of gamebirds for sporting purposes is subject to a statutory code of practice, made under the AWA, which explains what owners/keepers should do in order to meet the welfare needs of their gamebirds.  If anyone has concerns about the welfare of gamebirds on a particular farm, reared for sporting purposes, they should contact the relevant local authority, which has powers under the AWA to investigate such complaints, or the RSPCA, which will also investigate complaints of this nature.’


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  1. MK says:

    Not directly related but have you seen this?



  2. Douglas Batchelor says:

    The problem with the Animal Welfare Act is that once the release pen gates are open, the birds are regarded as being "wild" and are no longer covered by the provisions of the Act. This despite the fact that the birds are fed and keeper managed after release. They are in effect free range poultry being used as live targets gun for sport. By any normal definition of cruelty, sport shooting causes unnecessary suffering and should thereby be a criminal act.

    Targeted game birds are often wounded but not killed outright. Some die quickly of their injuries, some linger on and die later. Some are collected by gun dogs and then killed. The one thing that is absolutely clear is that such of shooting of birds for sport does not constitute humane killing. Prosecutions for cruelty would soon follow if the birds were not outside the scope of the Animal Welfare Act because they are deemed to be wild.

    Cruelty is cruely whether the bird or animal is wild, farmed or domesticated. The law should make all cruelty to animal a crime.


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