The game shooting season could be extended by an extra month, a senior Government minister has suggested.

In response to a question from MP Jim Shannon, Leader of the House Sir George Young said recently that the Government would see whether there were ?good reasons? to give shooters more time to practise their sport legally.

He said: ?The end of the shooting season has been at the end of January for some time. There may be all sorts of implications if it was extended. I will raise with the appropriate minister whether this issue ought to be discussed and whether there are good reasons for moving away from the traditional beginning and end of the shooting season.?

Under current rules ? in place since 1831 ? grey and red-legged partridges and pheasants can be shot until 1 February.

The close season ensures that birds are able to breed successfully and to move between breeding and wintering grounds.

When asking his question, Mr Shannon, a keen Shot and Shooting Times reader, emphasised that advice should be sought from shooting groups before any decision was made.

BASC?s Christopher Graffius welcomed Sir George?s comments.

He said: ?There may be strong arguments for an extension ? particularly the economic benefits to the country and the growing market for game meat.?

However, the Countryside Alliance was less enthusiastic.

Shooting campaigns manager David Taylor said: ?There is little desire within the shooting community to extend the season. These dates are set for practical management and conservation reasons and must be considered alongside the interests of the countryside as a whole.?

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