Disposal of spoiled game could cost shooters more than healthy carcases are worth if proposals from Brussels come to fruition. At present, animal by-product regulations stop short of dictating that game and other shoot waste, such as dead vermin, be dealt with in the same way as farm animals. According to the 2002 Animal By-Products Regulations, farm animals not fit for human consumption cannot simply be buried ? as spoiled game currently is ? but must be disposed of by incineration. That all may be about to change, however.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) has reacted with alarm to news that the European Commission (EC) is presently reviewing the regulations. It fears dealing with spoiled game, dead vermin and their by-products in the same way would not only be totally impractical, but also cripplingly expensive for shoots and shooters alike.

In a letter to DEFRA, in response to its request for gamekeepers’ views, the NGO observed: If the EC’s latest proposals were allowed to become law, tons of unfit game carcases and associated waste would have to be incinerated or rendered in approved plants. The proposed law would catch any shoot or estate selling shot game to a gamedealer, and could act as a disincentive to the all-important game meat trade.

Under the general wild animal exemption, animal carcases and by-products are currently buried in deep, lockable chambers, away from watercourses and areas of residence and public access. The NGO stresses that such facilities have been used to dispose of dead wild animals for many decades, with no known risk to human health.

An NGO spokesman said: “The European Commission’s own paperwork accepts the necessity of tailoring any new legal requirements to the risks. There is no risk in what keepers are doing at the moment, so we have told DEFRA that the law-makers should leave well alone.”

In its response to the proposals, the NGO also offered an example of the costs that would be incurred should the by-products have to be disposed of by a contractor: The carcase of a muntjac deer will sell to a gamedealer for approximately £10. One gamekeeper last summer was quoted £40 by a contractor for the speedy collection of the waste head and legs of a dead muntjac. Yet ministers have just committed the Government to increasing the deer cull in the interests of environmental, conservation and road safety.

A DEFRA spokesman told ST: “The animal by-products regulations are currenty under review by the EC and DEFRA is consulting on them. We are looking specifically at the regulations as they affect the disposal of wild animals and birds, and are working with stakeholders on this issue.”

To view the NGO’s full response to the consultation, visit visit www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk.