Wildfowling restraints hit shooting community hard.
The coldest December for 100 years has taken its toll on the UK?s wild bird population and disrupted the wildfowling season.
Both voluntary and statutory restraints were observed across Britain during the Christmas period, with fowling clubs imposing restraint beyond the officially designated periods.
Devon Wildfowlers chairman, Nick Millman, told Shooting Times: ?A decision was taken to suspend fowling on the Exe from 20 December. It did not resume until the morning of the 30th. The club has within its constitution the provision for the chairman, secretary and conservation officer to take this important decision.”
“We look for three days of night-time temperatures above freezing before resuming, but we still ask members to monitor the condition of shot birds and for any concerns to be immediately reported. During the cold snap wild migratory duck sat and were reluctant to fly, obviously conserving energy.?
In Scotland, there are signs that wildfowl have already recovered after the unusually cold weather.
David de Gernier, of the East of Scotland Association for Wildfowling & Conservation Club, told Shooting Times: ?In most areas now the birds are in good condition and there is no reason for restraint unless weather conditions deteriorate again.?
Mr de Gernier went on to question the need for blanket statutory restraint, pointing to the damaging effect that a curtailment to the season has already had on goose guides and all those involved in the shooting industry: ?There is a large groundswell of feeling that, while a period of restriction may have been necessary in many areas, some places were not so severely affected, where individual judgement would have sufficed.”
“The Government should bear in mind that, apart from farmers suffering crop damage, there are many guides whose businesses have taken a huge financial hit through losing a good chunk of their shooting season. There is also the knock-on effect of losses to accommodation and gunshops through the loss of sporting tourism.?