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Badger cull protesters 'threatening West Country pheasant shoots'

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: October 19, 2013

  • Dr Brian May has been one of the more high profile protesters, but some feel more radical antis could cause trouble on pheasant shoots

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Animal rights activists who came to the West Country to disrupt the badger cull are now threatening Exmoor pheasant shoots.

Saboteurs who set up camp in the badger cull zone in West Somerset in late August have, in some cases, turned their attention to shooting estates, solicitor Jamie Foster told a seminar on shooting sports this week.

He said in the past the shooting community had been spared what he called "some of the excesses" of the animal rights movement, which had been directed at fox hunting and stag hunting.

But he went on: "The badger cull has drawn some undesirable people down to Somerset and when they can't find the marksmen some of them are deciding to make a nuisance of themselves on shooting estates."

Mr Foster said estates that found their activities disrupted by the antis should respond in a way that matched the level of disruption or obstruction. He said: "Shooting is a lawful activity. Anyone trying to prevent you undertaking a lawful activity on your land will be committing aggravated trespass.

"It is very important to realise, in relation to the antis, that aggravated trespass is a crime. You can use reasonable force to remove anyone from your land if you have asked them to leave and they have refused."

He said if the police were present they should take steps to remove trespassers.

But Mr Foster, a solicitor with Taunton-based Clarke Willmott, who specialises in rural issues and country sports, warned that police might also revoke an individual's shotgun licence if in ejecting trespassers they were thought to be behaving "intemperately".

He recommended taking legal advice if anyone found themselves being threatened by police with the revocation of their shotgun licence in such circumstances.

"I have acted in a number of cases recently and suggested to the police officer that they should not revoke an individual's licence and that has been enough to prevent it being revoked," he said.

Exmoor is one of England's most important areas for shooting sports, specialising in high bird pheasant shoots – seen as the most challenging and most desirable by guns, who pay significant sums for a day's shooting. With the pheasant season, which began on October 1, now in full swing any disruption of commercial shoots could be damaging.

The most recent figures available show that game shooting on Exmoor was worth £22 million a year to the local economy in 2006. Updated figures are expected to show those earnings have grown significantly.

Last year, when the League Against Cruel Sports called on the Exmoor National Park Authority to restrict pheasant shooting on the moor, national park leaders rejected the suggested out of hand.

The Somerset badger cull, which officially ended on October 6, has been extended to cull more badgers.

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  • dmouland  |  November 15 2013, 1:57PM

    This is ridiculous. The badger cull and pheasant shoots should not be considered related AT ALL. I do not believe people should be protesting the badger cull (As it is legal , approved and needed ecologically for many reasons) but I believe even more so they shouldn't be protesting on shoots! Pheasants shoots around the country not only provide revenue for the economy (one example being Scotland where shooting brings in a lot of the income), but also provides us with huge local sources of game meat, as well as providing habitat for many other species of wildlife. Hedge-laying, coppicing, ride clearance, pond dredging and clearance and other conservationist activities all take place on shoots. Predator management also leads to thriving bird life, bird life such as song birds. People who protest just have no clue about what is involved and are full of ignorance, and this annoys people like me (legal shooters) as we actually know what we are talking about as we have a vast countryside history/background..some people are really laughable!

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  • twigcat  |  October 19 2013, 3:06PM

    It's not only ''more radical antis'' (as you call them) that will now bw focusing their attentions on pheasant shoots. An awful lot of Mr/Ms Average's have become aware of the truths hidden within this inhumane industry. Expect an increase in disruption.

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  • eyeopener  |  October 19 2013, 11:21AM

    The Western Morning News's support for blood sports and badger culling is well known, but on what is this article based? The only 'evidence' comes not from the Police but a report by "Mr Foster, a solicitor with Taunton-based Clarke Willmott, who specialise in rural issues and country sports" So there we have it, one account from one person who makes his living supporting 'country sports'. This is of course yet another smear against anti-badger cull protestors by a newspaper committed to the cull. Hardly news is it?

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  • Clued-Up  |  October 19 2013, 11:18AM

    The reason why shooting is now attracting more attention is because it's widely believed the shooting estates provided much of the impetus for the much-hated badger cull and are now actively involved in the killing of our badgers. The Forthampton Estate is just one of the shooting enterprises which also has been part of the badger killing programme. Many of the public think the shooting estates aim to remove the legally protected status of iconic wildlife species (badgers, otters, buzzards, hawks, falcons and even Golden Eagles) so they can kill at whim any animals and birds they believe to be reducing their profits from pheasant shooting. While I sympathise with those who think differently, I personally believe we should focus all our efforts over the immediate future on stopping the badger cull. Other issues can be sorted out later.

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