Game-shooting industry scrupulously ignoring the mass dumping of shot pheasants

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)

15 thoughts on “Game-shooting industry scrupulously ignoring the mass dumping of shot pheasants”

  1. “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.”

    They don’t hope it will go away soon and don’t care about any amount of scrutiny and pressure for the very simple reason that they do not need to. They know full well that nothing will come of all the pressure and complaints except more of the same to which they are conspicuously immune.

  2. Assuming this is not a ‘crime scene’, I was wondering whether contacting local caving groups (either https://www.swcc.org.uk/ or https://www.smwcrt.org/j32/) might be fruitful. Has the dumping occurred within an accessible cave system within what I assume is part of the SSSI? If so what evidence photographic evidence might local cavers be interested in assisting in taking to demonstrate dumping over prolonged periods. Any evidence of illegal bird killing below the sinkhole? What voice could caving groups add to complaints of watercourse contamination – presumably to Welsh Water?

    1. It’s got to be at least fly-tipping. There are probably detailed regulations for handling dead animals or butchery waste, etc. but fundamentally, a company generated waste material and an employee disposed of it in a way that is obviously wrong.

      1. I know its wrong but I’m wondering what law could be used to prosecute. Suppose if contamination of groundwater could be proved that would do.

        1. There are strict regulations for the disposal of ‘animal by-products’ (used to be EC regs but not sure now) and ‘wild game’ by-products comes under these regs. In a nutshell, animal by-products are categorized (1,2 & 3 with 1 being the highest risk) as to their risk to human health. So-called ‘gamebirds’ would probably be Cat 3 (arguably Cat 2) and normal routes of disposal would be incineration and/or rendering by approved companies. Funnily enough throwing lead shot-filled dead ‘gamebirds’ down an old mineshaft is not listed in the regs…

    2. Its illegal to flytip anything especially some birds that no doubt contain lead and obviously as they rot the birds themselves are a disgusting odious thing to have rotting away into the ground water which is why they are being dumped out of sight.

      1. Flytipping is rightly illegal, but there seems to be a loophole in the law that means stink pits are O.K. I wonder if similar loopholes would mean that disposal down an abandoned mine shaft would be seen as O.K. as it has no effect on the above ground environment and is not a public eyesore.
        I’m not saying this behaviour is acceptable, just that the law may be as wrong as the activity seen in the video

  3. This appalling incident and the Orrey buzzard killings are simply examples of the vile daily routine undertaken by many gamekeepers up and down the land that enables the shooting ‘industry’ to ‘function’ as it does. The ‘industry’s’ ‘a-few-bad-apples’ line for gamekeepers is – and has always been – total bollocks, as recent video evidence clearly shows. It is only on these rare occasions when their disgusting, murky world has been recorded and placed in the public domain do we see what is really going on. It is well past time that killing wildlife and semi-domesticated birds for fun (and all the other killing that supports the fun-killing…) should be banned outright.

    Well done the League, RSPB and RPUK.

  4. Surely this video evidence should trigger an investigation by Natural Resources Wales in relation to investigating probable risk of soil/water/environmental contamination by lead from lead shot in dumped game bird carcasses? Also an investigation into the number of carcasses dumped and the species, including protected species. On top of investigations into Environmental Pollution, ‘Fly Tipping’ and Animal Cruelty/Protection of Wildlife, the Local Authority/Council Environment Service should be made aware of the potential risk of pollution to waterways and Private Water Supplies.

  5. I can’t see this really being a police matter?
    Would the local council or the Environment Agency not be the lead agency in a fly tipping incident?
    Hopefully this incident is not getting passed around the various authorities before someone takes ownership and deals with any offences which may have occurred?
    Regardless of who eventually progresses this matter- I really hope there is a thorough investigation as we are still in the middle of an avian flu outbreak, so the dumping of so many bird carcasses is not only a very shameful act, it is also potentially a very dangerous act.

    It might also be a very prudent time to ask questions of the game shooting industry regarding protocols for the disposal of unwanted game birds. At the moment, it seems many unwanted birds are simply dumped, with all the risks this entails in spreading avian flu.
    So what is the shooting industry doing to stop this?

    It again demonstrates so clearly why this industry needs legally enforceable regulations.
    It would not be unreasonable to require those who rear, release or shoot game birds to abide by strict regulations regarding the disposal of dead birds- especially in light of the GL guidance which allows game birds to be treated as livestock in some situations.
    With entitlement should also come responsibility. I am not sure all of those who feel entitled to shoot are willing to accept all the responsibilities?

  6. Interesting comments. There are a few pieces of legislation of potential relevance.

    If those birds were shot for human consumption but it was decided that they would not after all enter the food chain then the Animal By-Products regulations would come into effect. If they had avian flu then they would definitely be deemed highest risk category 1 material and should have been disposed of by a limited number of authorised companies.

    As regards dumping the carcasses down the abandoned mine shaft – Local authorities have the power under S79 and S80 Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) to deal with statutory nuisance issues which includes (e)
    “any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance” on, in or under land. The problem has to be reported by a local resident of the authority and must be close enough to public land to cause the nuisance.

    S87 EPA deals with littering.

    In England the Environment Agency has the Power under S33 and 34 EPA to (iirc) deal with business or industrial (controlled) waste deposited in on or under land that could cause harm to the environment or water sources. I’m not sure of the name of the appropriate authority in Wales but the legislation applies to Wales.

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