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.
6 thoughts on “Chargot Estate in Exmoor National Park under police investigation, again, for alleged illegal trapping & killing of birds”
Reprehensible and cruel behaviour which is linked to the weird status of pheasants as sequentially domestic livestock, wild birds and then domestic livestock again.
Time and time again; the same old same old.
When will it ever stop?
Many thanks to League Against Cruel Sports for collecting this awful film footage.
I now hope that he Avon & Somerset Police will investigate this inhumane treatment of wild birds and our courts prosecute to the fullest: heavy fines and long prison sentences.
Hopefully it will eventually lead to the end of shooting in the UK.
The reason they don’t like to make the names of their member Estates openly known is because organisations like LACS will simply tour round them all one by one and gather footage demonstrating that their supposed code of good practice is a load of bullshit on each Estate. The Estates only give a monkeys when they are wanting to put on a show for your average commercial shoot punter parting with his cash to dress up as an edwardian, scoff a big breakfast, get driven out and waddle last few feet to the pegs for a grotesque amount of pheasants to be sent over their heads. BGA is totally “assurance” is worthless as it isn’t independently audited.
This is not isolated many estates do this, some starting legally before the end of the season but often running well into the close season. I can also recall pheasants being shot on at least two North Yorkshire grouse moors in spring in the close season as they are to quote a keeper involved ” serious egg predators” of grouse and waders.
I would suggest there is probably just as much a case to introduce proper regulations and licensing for pheasant and other game bird shooting, as there is for driven grouse shooting.
This way those estates which act in an unlawful way or contrary to the regulations, can be swiftly dealt with under civil law and have their licences revoked, or have severe financial penalties imposed upon them.
Economic sanctions which have a real impact upon the viability of any estate or shoot which operates outside the law is probably the most realistic measure which could be introduced to ensure all of the game shooting industry obeys the rules.
If implemented properly, then evidence such as this secured by LACS, should be sufficient for Natural England etc to immediately suspend a shooting licence.
Since no estate would ever truly know whether it was under observation by many of the NGOs, such RSPB, LACS or the Hunt Saboteurs, then it would be a very fool hardy estate which encouraged or allowed its gamekeepers to operate outside the rules.
Such a measure would also create a level playing field for all those estates which do operate lawfully and within the rules, as they wouldn’t have to compete against estates which were able secure an advantage by operating outside the law.
I fail to understand why the game shooting industry is so opposed to the introduction of proper regulations and licensing?
The fantasy that these birds are wild and not stock has to end.