We’re used to hearing from the game-shooting industry that self-regulation is the way forward, instead of the proposition of statutory legislation and regulation, such as shoot licensing, (e.g. see here for the Scottish game-shooting industry’s response to the Werritty Review, where they argue that self-enforced ‘codes of practice’ are the best solution for grouse moor management).
The thing is, self-regulation hasn’t worked for decades, so why should anyone believe it’ll work now?
This Bank Holiday weekend provided yet another example of what appears to be failed self-regulation, and it’s a shocker.
Have a look at this photograph:
It’s the back of a 4X4, absolutely rammed full of dead wood pigeons, which presumably have been shot, lawfully, to protect crops from ‘serious damage’. Let’s hope there aren’t any dead Stock doves in this pile – can anyone see one?
Not only was this photograph posted on social media at the weekend, but it was posted by Shooting UK, which, according to its website, is ‘the umbrella site for Shooting Times, Sporting Gun and Shooting Gazette‘. This wasn’t the handiwork of some random idiot, this was published by a so-called industry leader who didn’t see anything wrong with sharing this grotesque image nor any comprehension of the potential breaches of the industry’s own Code of Good Shooting Practice:
Here is the industry’s self-regulatory Code of Good Shooting Practice: CodeGoodShootingPractice
The Code is overseen by a steering committee comprising representatives of BASC, Countryside Alliance, GWCT, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers Organisation, Scottish Gamekeepers Association, Scottish Land & Estates, National Game Dealers Association, Game Farmers Association and the CLA.
According to page 4 of this document, ‘This Code is primarily addressed to shooting ‘game’, which includes all of the traditional gamebirds, namely pheasants, partridges and grouse, but many of the principles apply equally to other quarry types – ducks, geese, waders and hares – as well as pest species including; pigeons, crows, rabbits and grey squirrels‘.
The Code has ‘Five Golden Rules’. Golden Rule #3 is as follows:
Respect for quarry is paramount. It is fundamental to mark and retrieve all shot game which is food and it must be treated in accordance with the Guide to Good Game Handling.
So, does cramming a load of shot wood pigeons in to the back of a 4X4 constitute ‘accordance with the Guide to Good Game Handling’? Let’s have a look:
Here is a copy of the Guide to Good Game Handling: Guide-Good-Game-Handling
This guide discusses the basics of good food handling and hygiene such as keeping it clean, protecting it from contamination, the need for rapid cooling and correct storage. It discusses the importance of good air circulation and the need to space birds out, laying them separately and on their backs, and never to leave them in heaps as they’ll quickly deteriorate. It also says that when it’s being transferred to a suitable food storage facility a separate game cart or designated area within a vehicle should be used, again keeping space between the birds to encourage airflow between them.
Now, the comment from Shooting UK about breasting implies these birds are destined to be eaten, but what isn’t clear is (a) whether these wood pigeons are destined to be sold or (b) whether the person/people who shot them is going to take them home and shove them in their own freezer for their own consumption, along with all the toxic lead shot in each bird.
Does the Code still apply for private consumption or is it only applicable if the shot birds are going to be sold to someone else? Presumably the Code of Good Shooting Practice applies to ALL scenarios, right? Or is it open to interpretation, a bit like the rules about driving from London to Durham during CV19 lockdown….