Game-shooting industry announces propaganda supergroup

In a desperate attempt to appear relevant and pretend that it has a future, the game shooting industry has announced a so-called ‘new’ formal partnership designed ‘to highlight the crucial role that sustainable game shooting plays in delivering biodiversity net gain through preserving and protecting cherished rural landscapes and a tremendous array of wildlife‘.

Calling itself ‘Aim to Sustain’, (and not to be confused with another group calling itself the same thing), this propaganda supergroup is nothing new at all. It’s the usual suspects, posturing and claiming with straight faces that modern game shooting is ‘sustainable’ and ‘has the highest standards of self–regulation’ (cough).

Er, if it was sustainable and able to demonstrate self-regulation, it wouldn’t find itself at the centre of so much controversy, scrutiny, police investigations, and calls for enforced regulation and therefore there’d be no need for this supergroup to form!

The partners in the new supergroup include the Countryside Alliance, British Game Alliance, British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Country Land & Business Association, Game Farmers’ Association, Moorland Association, National Gamekeepers’ Organisation and Scottish Land and Estates. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust are acting as ‘scientific advisors’.

Interestingly, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association is not involved – that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Are their ideas too crazy even for this lot to tolerate?

All new members signing up to the partnership will receive a unicorn bubble gun like this one:

They won’t of course, I’ve just made that up, but they might as well distribute unicorn bubble guns for all the credibility they’ll bring. This is the industry that has failed to self-regulate on a wide range of issues, including the continued illegal killing of birds of prey, the mass unregulated use of veterinary drugs spread across the uplands, the burning of vegetation on peatlands, the continued use of toxic lead ammunition, the casual, unregulated killing of hundreds of thousands of so-called ‘pest’ species and the release in to the countryside of millions upon millions of non-native gamebirds every year.

Pretending to be the champions of self-regulation just by saying it loudly and often, isn’t going to cut it, I’m afraid.

As a fantastic example of the propaganda we might expect from this lot, have a look at the very first press release they issued yesterday, which opens with the line:

The creation of Aim to Sustain has already received widespread support within the political world‘.

The press release goes on to provide a single quote of support from one elected politician – Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown – who also just happens to be BASC’s Vice President!

The other two ‘politicians’ quoted are unelected members of the House of Lords – Ian Botham and Nick Herbert. Botham is well known for his close links to the game-shooting industry (have a listen to his notorious car-crash radio interview on the subject) and Herbert just happens to be the Chairman of the Countryside Alliance who will be co-chairing this new supergroup with the chair of BASC!!!!!!

It’s hardly ‘widespread’ political support and it’s hardly impartial, is it?!

It looks to me like just another expensive greenwashing exercise. It might as well have called itself ‘Aim to Hide the Stains’.


27 thoughts on “Game-shooting industry announces propaganda supergroup”

  1. No one seems to mention the disturbance shooting caused to others living or using the countryside.
    Living in an area where there are many shots, most Saturdays are completely
    wrecked by being surrounded by mainly men firing over lanes gardens and footpaths.
    Ok they are not supposed to do this but no one stops them.

    1. Sadly, I agree completely. Shooting at all hours outwith the shooting season, Sunday shooting plus the abuse of the unregulated bird scarers.
      How odd to scare one species of bird eg pigeon from a game crop (not for human food) only to place hundreds if not thousands of pheasants which will be shot and dumped. What a waste.
      Game crops are shot over first then sheep might be put in afterwards to graze the lead shot crop before being put to the hills as tick mops. How much lead is ingested and ends up in the food chain?

      Bird scarers in use from the end of May, all day every day until just before the 12 th August. Very few if any following the NFU guidelines.

      A cynic might think these bird scarers/ shots being fired were being used to deter people from walking on shooting estates and/or scaring raptors?
      The noise pollution from shooting estates is a direct violation of our human right to a peaceful life plus it can and does affect health.

  2. The SGA are forming their own supergroup with Fergus Ewing, George Galloway, Tommy Robinson and a particularly aggressive border terrier called Bob. The focus of their first campaign is the legalisation of Carbofuran as a restoritive tonic for dead mountain hares.

  3. If they were to be awarded a bubble blowing Unicorn, the bubbles would be exiting from the opposite end, and be filled with more hot air.

  4. Disappointed to see that “Hoggwash” has not been invited. Perhaps they think he’s a liability :-). xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx

  5. ‘(and not to be confused with another group calling itself the same thing)’


    How could they make such a basic blunder?

    Rank incompetence or an overweening sense of entitlement?

  6. I’m not entirely surprised the SGA is being left out. I only occasionally look at their FB page these days, but when I do their posts are usually undermined by the comments from the non shooting participants, backed up by referencing scientific papers, stories from abroad and genuine conservation projects, and pointing to SGA hypocrisy. If there’s any response at all from its supporters it’s usually worse than nothing, the laughing emoji in reply to a detailed argument or a comment that we’re just anti hunting townies who don’t have a clue – never with any evidence to back that up. Acts of desperation with the whiff of rotting corpse thrown in.

    The SGA reminds me of the situation with the Scottish Tories when they used to have their own televised conference. At least south of the border there was a big enough pool of conservatives that you could find some that were daft as a brush, but at least semi presentable when up at the lectern. Up here they didn’t have that, their numbers were too pitiful, and their delegates were a succession of the utterly ludicrous and round the bend, inducing a mix of hilarity and horror that these were those who were the actual backbone of a major political party. I think there are parallels with the SGA, they can’t retain any credibility as a solo organisation and even risk tarnishing others. They are best left sitting quietly in the corner.

    All in all a good sign in that the industry as a whole is under very severe pressure, they’re seriously worried. If the conservation and environmental movements combined their efforts and were just objectively honest about what the huntin, fishin, shootin lot is doing comprehensively to the land, wildlife and people then it’d be absolutely hammered. More red deer equals more fatal road accidents. Grouse moors equal more flooding and upland fires as well as fewer jobs for rural communities especially in relation to eco/wildlife tourism. Then there’s the intensive agriculture needed to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of feed to raise pheasant and red legged partridge for shooting which mostly end up as fox fodder, roadkill or in bin bags. And of course there’s a ‘legacy’ extending over a hundred years where non native species like rhododendron, cherry laurel and snowberry were put in to our woodlands as game cover and proved to be invasive driving out native flora and fauna – this is shamefully still going on. And they’ve got the cheek to blame sparrow hawks for songbird decline!

    Traditional predator control for shooting posing as a conservation tool is increasingly looking as ineffective, even counter to helping endangered species as more exciting evidence comes in that the closer we get to having our native range of predator species back the less human involvement is needed, pine martens feast on grey squirrels, otters suppress mink, goshawk eat corvids. The ammunition is all there, it’s just that so far all those involved have punched way above their weight, but more need to get involved and see being conciliatory and accommodating with the shooting sector for the complete waste of time it is.

    1. Interesting point about the feed for the game birds. I was talking to the owner of a medium sized shoot near me in the Cotswolds about 18 months ago and he told me that he got through 70 tonnes of grain a year feeding his pheasants. He also told me he killed c.140 foxes a year, something I wasn’t ready to believe but actually it’s about 13 to 14 a month. We didn’t get round to talking about raptors and other predators…

      1. It’s a huge point and it hardly ever gets raised. Mark Cocker in his book ‘Our Place’ mentioned 236,000 tons of cereal per annum being used to feed pheasant and red legged partridge for shooting purposes in the UK. How much land could be given over to nature and help alleviate flooding, reduce air pollution etc if it wasn’t being used to grow feed for future roadkill? Soymeal is also used sometimes and it’s hard to see how therefore gamebird shooting in the UK ISN’T implicated in rainforest loss too. It’s believed that all that feathered protein being pumped into the countryside especially from late summer onwards when natural sources of it usually decline could be unnaturally boosting some predator numbers specifically foxes. As they get shot at that shoot you mention clearly all the dozy gamebirds must keep drawing more in.

        Another point is that if pheasants are receiving supplementary feed isn’t it possible they could over exploit sources of natural food in ways that a truly wild bird can’t, the predator/prey balance all screwed up? There’s a highly credible eyewitness account of a pheasant eating a lapwing chick. With more than 30 million pheasants released into the countryside each year that wouldn’t have to be typical behaviour for it to seriously impact lapwing numbers – all underpinned by supplementary feeding. In directly preying upon and competing with native wildlife pheasant in particular must be having a terrible impact. So many questions not even being asked far less answered.

        1. Totally agree. When you hear Pheasant keepers bemoaning “this ground / Shoot / Estate has a big Fox problem”, what they are in fact saying is usually this: “The general area around our shoot has a natural healthy population of Foxes, but when we put 1000’s of dumb, noisy and very smelly Pheasant poults into our release pens the Foxes are drawn in from miles away, giving us a Fox ‘problem’ of our own making. And also a Buzzard problem of our own making, a Sparrowhawk problem of our own making, a Tawny Owl problem of our own making”… and on and on and on…

  7. Laughable completely laughable, apart from all the, no doubt continuing, ills you and others have mentioned how on earth can it be sustainable if it is dependent on the release of up to 60 million living targets per year? They are not only bare faced bullshitters but they do it with a completely straight face and feign disbelief when they are challenged on this. GWCT still claim to be scientific, really!

  8. Life is certainly more enhanced by the concept of a bubble-blowing, bottom-beaming pink unicorn than the sad reality of bird-blasting bottom-feeding apologists for DGS!

  9. Those who used to frequent the SGA FB chat are now ensconsed in the Rewilding Scotland chatroom where they get a much better reception and hearing than they do in their own room. Which, of course, gives them great encouragement to spread the rehabilitated message “Aim to Sustain” to an audience of committed and mostly young environmentalists. Of course these many of these people do not know the history of these bodies in regards to their response to the long series of land mismanagement. In short they are being presented with an opportunity to be seen as an entirely new and enthusiastic movement ready to embrace chage. I’m afraid that I have to disagree with les that they are “seriously worried.” They have Westminster and a large part of the relatively new RS in their pocket with tourism and a watered down form of grouse licensing seeming likely. They, the shooting Lobby, seem to be laughing up their sleeves as they present a faux worry position to the public while all the while knowing that they have got the best deal possible in the bag.
    I’ve no doubt that most readers will have noticed that Boris is altering the legislation in the background and appointing new disciples to key positions. It’s time that the environmental lobby got their act together and presented a joint front.

    1. Certain people may indeed have certain plans, but that’s a very long way from them all falling neatly into place on schedule, they’re susceptible to wishful thinking and then failure. The big change is that estates are now being bought up for non sporting purposes – money talks and it’s starting to ask for carbon sequestration and more wildlife. The alternative model to grouse, deer, salmon is starting to pop up here and there, and I suspect we may be approaching a tipping point where there’ll be a flood of interest in buying up land for rewilding. It may well be there already it’s just waiting for land to become available. Given what some have spent to play space cowboys there could be a lot of money available for the much more laudable purpose of saving wildlife and helping rural communities.

      As a new development there can’t be many that are more significant than estates being bought up to be taken out of traditional ‘sporting’ estate management. Maybe licencing will turn out to be a damp squib, but none the less it’s an issue that wasn’t there before, the screw is tightening even just a little. And anybody relying on Boris and his chums should worry, if they aren’t they’re deluded. After time you use up all your options and run out of wriggle room which at very long last is happening to fox hunting.

      Things of course would go a lot faster if the relevant organisations just stopped censoring themselves and said what needs to be said – I don’t understand what the Woodland Trust has to loose by pissing off the grouse shooting lobby, it does have an absolutely enormous amount to gain by landscape scale tree planting in the uplands. Even better if the organisations work together. Undue pessimism can be as damaging as complacency though, so I’m genuinely if cautiously optimistic about change in Scotland, while being gutted at how rewilding and even bog standard conservation is being hammered in Wales where the ‘downtrodden’ hill farming community is far more effective at stopping wildlife coming back than the SGA and their wealthy lairds. I think there’s an even higher priority for conservation organisations to get together to challenge what’s NOT happening in Wales where progress is effectively non existent.

  10. They seem to confuse tiny amounts of wildlife tolerating grouse moor management with environmental net again. After all the decline in upland birds and the mass slaughter of our wildlife, zero tolerance to alk predators and mass environmental damage, a couple of pairs of curlews clinging on isnt net gain.

    Adolf hitler liked animals, doesnt make the net result him being a nice person.

  11. Well, for someone who’s apparently not bothered about this collaboration you certainly seemed stressed about it, downright angry seems to sum up your stance. But no matter, Your buddies in Labour are doomed to never be seen again and the Tories couldn’t give two hoots about your nonsensical ranting so you have always been on a loser even without this. That’s the trouble with continually telling lies, you eventually get caught out and then anyone with any common sense just ignores you.

    1. So how come the shooting groups who have formed this new cabal haven’t been found out yet? Oh I just realised they have, keep up to speed dear boy!

    2. The lies told by those that you support have been outlined readily, and on numerous occasions on this your probably aware. But what lies are you accusing those that write/support this blog of telling? That raptors are illegally killed? Who the main suspects are? Or is it about more general conservation issues…the probable negative impact of millions of non native gamebirds released, or the unnaturally intense numbers of native grouse? Enlighten us please. But keep it objective and civilised please!

    3. Don’t forget to clean your dummy before popping it back in will you? I presume you use Boris Johnson’s definition of a lie: i.e. an uncomfortable truth, as opposed to the proper definition, i.e. a falsehood, as in “xxxxx is a conservation organisation” or “xxxxxxxx represents countryfolk” or “Boris Johnson is an honest, faithful monogamist”.

  12. I can’t see the rank and file shooting man being very inspired by this – bemused more like. Their website is just a jumble of buzzwords and hollow concepts that could have been computed by an early Amstrad. Plus, the SGA are actually very popular among the grass roots for their “fighting spirit” – it won’t seem fair to have frozen them out just because they speak up a bit too crudely. Anyway, no doubt there will be a case of another big Estate getting caught doing bad things coming up soon enough, so this new formation will get a one-off shot at taking a fresh stance on things.

  13. Whilst it might be easy to ridicule this alliance of pro shooting groups. There is very much a risk that the inclusion of such a diversity of groups will resonate with Conservative MPs who represent the rural areas and from whose constituencies the members of these groups are drawn.

    However much people may disagree, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and Moorland Association are seen by many as a credible organisations when it comes to conservation issues.
    The BASC does publish what appears to be sound codes of practice when it comes to shooting ( the issue being that these codes of practice don’t always appear to be followed.)
    The Countryside Alliance also appears to have strong rural support in some areas.

    As such the new group – Aim to Sustain may well be an effective parliamentary lobby group, and receive a welcoming ear from many Tory MPs who represent rural communities. (MP’s aren’t going to act in a way which undermines their voter base)
    As Tory MPs represent the majority of rural areas right across England and parts of Wales, then potentially Aim to Sustain may have a substantial sway in how parliament decides upon rural matters and in particular reforms to the shooting industry and how land managed for shooting receives grants etc for conservation work.

    Winning the conservation debate on the pathetic protection afforded birds of prey is one thing.
    But unless this debate is also won with those Tory MPs who represent so much of our rural landscape then positive change to better protect raptors (and other wildlife) will be very slow to happen, if it happens at all.
    So, Aim to Sustain could be a very clever move by the shooting industry.

    The word “sustainable” is the buzz word of the moment, so even the inclusion of this word in the groups name should give an indication of some of the thought gone into creating this alliance.
    I would suggest this new alliance is also a demonstration that the shooting industry is prepared to fight back hard against those who want politicians to bring about changes to how our countryside is managed.

    It’s Achilles heel could potentially be the blatant criminal behaviour shown towards some of our rarest birds of prey, and the crimes occurring in and around land managed for game shooting.
    But until the police successfully prosecute those responsible; and then, only if a link can be made from the perpetrators of these crimes to the various groups making up this alliance, could that Achilles heel be exposed. (The low police prosecution success rate suggests this may not happen in the near future!)

    Hopefully conservation organisations and organisation opposed to hunting and shooting will come together and unite to offer a strong alternative to the views proffered by Aim to Sustain.
    The issue then, will be how to win over those MP’s who represent the areas where the organisations making up Aim to Sustain have a strong supporter base in the population. Otherwise, it may be a long time before we see any real political movement to end DGS.

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