The question of Sunday shooting of game is to receive further airing in parliamentary circles next week when the topic comes under discussion by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Shooting and Conservation (APPG).
The APPG will discuss DEFRA?s consultation on game management, which closed last October. As a result of conclusions drawn from the same consultation, it is expected the game licence will be scrapped later this year by the application of a regulatory reform order. However, the debate over Sunday shooting and the controversy it has created mean that any potential legislative change to that law will not be effected for some time.
BASC last year found itself in agreement with the League Against Cruel Sports when both backed the continuation of a ban on Sunday shooting, together with the National Gamekeepers? Organisation. In contrast, the Countryside Alliance (CA) argued that shooters should not be restricted by law, but should be allowed to regulate their own behaviour on the issue. At the APPG meeting a number of representatives from the differing shooting organisations will give MPs and peers their views on the debate.
Christopher Graffius, who is BASC?s director of communications and who also provides the secretariat for the APPG, told ST: ?We don?t think there should be any shooting of game on Sundays or Christmas Day, and we say that for a number of reasons. You have to ask yourself, would shooting on these days benefit the sport as a whole? Our Council?s view is that it wouldn?t and in particular Council singled out the welfare of birds ? shooting birds on these days could lead to their being over-driven.
It is a decision we?ve made with other countryside users in mind and for the welfare of people working in shooting. Gamekeepers rarely get a day off, and we all know the pressures of organising a driven shoot. Keepers, beaters and pickers-up ought to get a day off. Our view is that shooting game on Sundays and Christmas Days would damage the image of shooting in the public eye. The hallmark of responsible shooting is restraint. The law is there to guide and set an example, and the fact that the law says this is a serious subject should be enough for people to take notice.?
Tim Bonner at the CA questioned the need to focus so much attention on the issue. ?The question of Sunday shooting is a very minor part of the proposed changes to game management,? he told ST. ?We hope that the more important proposals also merit wider discussion. The CA continues to believe that the suggestion that shooting a pheasant on a Sunday should remain a criminal offence goes against common sense and implies shooters aren?t capable of proper self-regulation.?