Press release from League Against Cruel Sports (7th June 2022):
Game birds illegally killed on one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates
Game keepers have been filmed illegally trapping and killing ‘game’ birds on the Chargot Shooting Estate, Somerset, during the closed shooting season.
Footage obtained by investigators from leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports shows the birds being caught and killed during the closed shooting season on one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates.
A file has been prepared and passed to Avon and Somerset Police on Tuesday, May 31.
[A screengrab from the video showing a man swinging a pheasant around by its neck]
The film shows pheasants entering a funnel cage – a cage designed to trap birds – and a man entering the same cage several hours later.
The man, who is believed to be an employee of the Chargot Estate, is seen swinging each male bird by the neck in an attempt to kill it, leaving some dead and some visibly distressed and flapping about.
On another occasion a different man and a woman are seen stuffing female birds into crates, treating them roughly and holding them by the wings. Catching up, as collecting the pheasants is known, is illegal outside of the shooting season.
It is believed female pheasants are kept for breeding purposes while the males are seen as surplus and killed.
The short one-minute video can be watched here:
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said:
“We are appalled to see these animals suffering in this way. Not only that, but we believe they are committing a crime under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. This outrageous incident demonstrates a blatant disregard by the shooting industry for the law and all animals involved.
If employees from one of Britain’s most prestigious shooting estates can act like this, others clearly can too. Those who go shooting need to realise that behind their grand days out animals are suffering.”
In England and Wales open season for pheasant shooting lasts from October to February, with the rest of the year a closed season which prohibits the shooting of birds to allow them to breed.
Chris added: “More than 61 million game birds are released into the British countryside every year. If they’re not cruelly blasted out the sky, they’re captured and killed anyway – or trapped until ready to breed – both illegal during a closed season.”
It’s not the first time the Chargot Estate has been under police investigation for alleged animal welfare offences.
In 2018, police cautioned a Chargot Estate employee for multiple breaches of the General Licence for the illegal operation of a crow cage trap (see blog here).
Rather embarrassingly for the game-shooting industry, the Chargot Estate was accredited as a so-called ‘assured shoot’ by the British Game Alliance in 2018 – you know, the industry’s desperate attempt to demonstrate self-regulation and adherence to high standards.
It’s not known whether the Chargot Estate is still a BGA ‘assured shoot’ because the BGA doesn’t do transparency anymore and has since removed its list of ‘assured shoots’ (see here) although it has since rebranded in a marketing ploy and now laughingly calls itself British Game Assurance.
Well done to the League Against Cruel Sports – let’s see whether the Avon & Somerset Police investigation leads to a subsequent prosecution.