Last Thursday non-profit organisation Wild Justice announced its latest legal challenge, this time against DEFRA for failing to assess the ecological impact of releasing millions of non-native game birds such as Pheasants and Red-legged Partridge in to the countryside every year.
The response from members of the game-shooting industry has been predictably abusive but also, in many cases, a furious backlash reaction to what they think Wild Justice is doing, rather than what Wild Justice is actually doing. For the avoidance of doubt, Wild Justice is asking DEFRA to carry out a review of the ecological impact of releasing millions of non-native game birds in to the countryside every year. Wild Justice is not taking DEFRA to court to ban pheasant and red-legged partridge shooting!
Anyway, back to those responses from the game shooting industry. Mark Avery has effortlessly sliced and diced the main responses (see here) and this is well worth a read. But there’s something else worth noting about the industry’s responses that can be expanded upon from Mark’s entertaining critique, and that’s the rancid stench of hypocrisy emanating from the critics’ mouths.
You’ll note that BASC has labelled Wild Justice’s latest legal challenge as ‘another extremist attack’ [on shooting] and the Shooting Times called it an ‘attack’ and ‘childish eco-politics’:
It’s worth remembering that Wild Justice is simply exercising a right to utilise an open, democratic process to challenge the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body. Not exactly the work of ‘extremists’ and not exactly an ‘attack on shooting’.
It’s also worth remembering that the game bird shooting industry has also exercised its right to utilise this open, democratic process to challenge the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body. And not just once!
For example, in 2014 gamekeeper Ricky McMorn requested a judicial review of Natural England’s decision to refuse him a licence to kill buzzards to protect his pheasants (see here). Mr McMorn’s case, financially supported by the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO), was successful. However, if you read the Shooting Times articles about his case (here and here), you won’t find Mr McMorn being accused of launching an attack, or of being an extremist, or of engaging in childish eco-politics. Funny, that.
Indeed, deputy editor of the Shooting Times, Joe Dimbleby wrote:
‘This landmark ruling should set a precedent for a more sensible approach to licencing. No doubt there will be outcry from the normal quarters, but the case has revealed the law of the land not being followed because of special interest pressure‘.
And then in 2016 Raeshaw Estate in the Scottish Borders took a judicial review against SNH’s 2015 decision to withdraw the use of the General Licence on Raeshaw Estate based on evidence that raptor persecution crimes had taken place there (see here). The estate lost its case in 2017. We couldn’t find any online news reports from the game shooting industry about this case and no mention of Raeshaw Estate (or its sporting manager, Mark Osborne) being accused of launching an attack, or of being an extremist, or of engaging in childish eco-politics. Funny, that.
We did find a job advert for a beat keeper at Raeshaw in the Nov 2017 edition of Shooting Times – we’re pretty sure that advert wouldn’t have appeared if the Shooting Times had a dim view of the estate or of Mr Osborne.
And then more recently (December 2018) three organisations from the game shooting industry applied for a judicial review of the Welsh Government’s statutory agency Natural Resources Wale’s decision to ban pheasant shooting on public land. Here’s a copy of the press release from BASC’s own website:
Incidentally, their application for a judicial review was refused because they’d applied too late.
We read a news report of this case in the 20 March 2019 edition of Shooting Times and there was no mention of the three organisations being accused of launching an attack, of being extremists, or of engaging in childish eco-politics. Funny, that.
Amusingly, BASC even records its participation in this failed legal action as a ‘Key Achievement in 2018’ (here).
It’s worth remembering these three legal challenges, and the outright hypocrisy of the game shooting industry the next time you see them accusing Wild Justice of being extremists for, er, also taking on legal challenges.
An even better way of showing your support for Wild Justice is to contribute to its crowdfunder to raise £44,500 to take this latest legal challenge all the way through the courts. So far over £24,000 has been donated. If you’d like to support this case, please click here.