The British Association for Shooting and Conservation was alone among shooting groups last week in welcoming the eventual publication of DEFRA’s new gamebird code. Other groups, including the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Game Farmers’ Association (GFA), heavily criticised the final version of the code laid before Parliament on Monday, 15 March. The GFA and others have called for the code to be withdrawn until concerns over its content are resolved.

In the code that appeared last week DEFRA has inserted extra clauses restricting catching-up and bitting as well as a new requirement to check birds at least twice a day — including in the release pen. None of these extra clauses was consulted on prior to the code’s publication.

Additionally, the code effectively bans the use of existing raised laying cages for pheasants and specifies arbitrary minimum space requirements for pheasants and partridges kept for egg production. If the code is not revised, it will come into force in England on 1 October.

Welcoming the publication of the code, especially the implementation of minimum space requirements for those using raised laying cages to produce partridge and pheasant eggs, BASC’s director of communications Christopher Graffius said: “The Government and particularly DEFRA ministers are to be congratulated on reaching a decision which ensures the future of game shooting and high standards of animal welfare.”

The rest of this article appears in 24th March issue of Shooting Times.

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