Proposals to give Guns the right to shoot pheasant or partridge on Sundays in England and Wales are up in the air, following conflicting responses from shooting organisations to a recent consultation on the reform of the Game Acts, conducted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Regulatory change to the Game Acts, which date back to the 19th century, is currently under way. Subjects up for reform include the requirement to hold a game licence, the restriction on dealing in game out
of season and placing the schedules for gamebird close seasons on to the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Key among supplementary proposals is the removal of restrictions on shooting on Sundays and Christmas Day.
In its consultation document, DEFRA highlighted arguments in favour of retaining the restriction based around noise disturbance, as well as the need to give gamekeepers time off and to carry out management activities, such as topping up feeders. Arguments to the contrary included establishing consistency between game species ? pigeon, deer and rabbits can all be shot on Sundays ? consistency with Scottish legislation and consistency with Sunday trading and licensing laws.
Responding to the consultation, both the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) supported retaining the restriction on Sunday shooting (a measure that also had the backing of the League Against Cruel Sports), while the Countryside Alliance (CA) was strongly in favour of its removal.