The video footage published last week showing a gamekeeper tossing shot pheasants (and what appears to be other unidentified wildlife) down a disused mineshaft after a shooting day was a shocker, on so many levels.
If you missed it, here it is again:
We know where this took place (Dyfi Falls, mid-Wales) and when it took place (2nd November 2021) because the League Against Cruel Sports, whose investigators had installed the covert camera, told us all in a press release published on 27th January 2022 (here).
We even know who was responsible – a gamekeeper employed by sporting agency Cambrian Birds Ltd who ‘manage’ this particular shoot. How do we know? Because a spokesperson for the estate told ITV news (here).
With the unequivocal video evidence and the public admission of responsibility, this appalling incident wasn’t one that the game-shooting industry could subsequently deny, which seems to be its usual default setting. No, its pants were well and truly down on this one.
Instead, what we’re seeing is the industry moving to default setting #2, which is to ignore all the evidence and hope it goes away soon. Not one of the main game-shooting organisations has drawn attention to this incident, let alone condemned it in the news sections of their websites, which I find extraordinary for an industry under so much scrutiny and pressure to clean itself up.
I think a lot of the decision to remain silent rests with the fact it was the League Against Cruel Sports who secured the footage and publicised it. The game-shooting industry detests the League, almost as much as it does the RSPB, which is probably why STILL none of the game-shooting organisations have condemned the actions of gamekeeper John Orrey, who was sentenced last week for multiple wildlife crime & firearms offences, including battering to death two buzzards, because it was RSPB footage that nailed him.
It makes no difference to me whether the game-shooting organisations screw up their PR on these crimes – it’s their sordid little industry that’s on the line and it’s not my job to save it.
However, I am very interested in how the statutory authorities deal with these issues. It’s harder for them to deny what’s going on (although some of them try!) and it’s harder for them to ignore it when organisations like the League and the RSPB are putting the evidence right under their noses.
But it seems to me that the Welsh Government’s agency Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Dyfed & Powys Police have been doing their best to ignore this pheasant-dumping case. The footage was filmed on 2nd November 2021 and I understand that NRW and the police were notified on 17th November 2021.
It’s now 1st February 2022. What have they been doing since mid-November? How long does an investigation take when you’ve got footage of the incident and an admission from the landowner about who was involved? Have they even started an investigation?
Watch this space.
UPDATE 2nd February 2022: Awkward….(here)