The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has been blasted for spreading "nonsense" after the group used the bird flu crisis to attack the shooting industry
Eduardo Goncalves, LACS chief executive, said the outbreaks were “inevitable” because “the number of birds used by the shooting industry each year is a disaster waiting to happen. More pheasants and partridges are bred to be shot each year than the combined number of turkeys and duck killed for the table, but the understanding of their impact on the wider ecological picture is poorly researched and understood.”
He claimed: “This has come because of the greed of the shooting industry, which raises 35million pheasants and partridges to be shot for sport every year.
“It’s terribly sad that more birds have been infected with bird flu, but the unpalatable reality is that in the case of pheasants, they will be shot soon enough anyway.”
LACS incompetent and sensationalist
Responding to these claims, shooting and rural groups have accused LACS of being incompetent and sensationalist. A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “For LACS to attempt to hijack bird flu to launch an attack on gameshooting is an exercise in jaw-dropping opportunism in our view. There will be many people in both town and country who will shake their heads in disbelief, seeing this as a cheap shot seemingly fired off to cash in on the suffering of those whose flocks have contracted highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza. It provides yet more evidence to us that LACS has little understanding of the workings of the countryside.”
Liam Stokes, head of shooting for the Countryside Alliance, agreed: “LACS is trying to appropriate the suffering of ordinary people, farmers who make a living rearing poultry
or gamebirds, and use it to further its own agenda. Fortunately no one will take any notice.
“The League embarrassed even its own supporters with its incompetence in 2016, when it tried to convince politicians that more mammals are snared in the UK than actually exist, so it has no credibility when speaking about rural issues.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser commented: “As we have come to expect from these anti-shooting extremists, this latest rant woefully misrepresents the reality of shooting. With each desperate, sensationalist press release, LACS drifts ever further from the truth.
“It has ignored evidence that shows around 97 per cent of edible quarry which is shot makes it to the food table. And the latest independent research from Mintel highlights that demand for game meat has risen seven per cent. That is because it is ethical, healthy and sustainable,” he continued.
“This outbreak of avian influenza, which has been spreading through mainland Europe, has been brought to our shores by wild birds following natural over-winter migratory routes. For LACS to suggest anything else is simply mischievous nonsense because it is in search of a cheap headline,” said Mr Glenser.