The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Experts slam Labour Party Animal Welfare Society’s report on release of gamebirds

A report into gamebird releasing by the Labour Party Animal Welfare Society has been slammed by experts.

Gamebird pens

The report was written by the controversial academic, Professor Steven Harris, whose now largely discredited work was significant in the campaign to have fox hunting banned.

Harris made little attempt at impartiality in the latest report stating openly: “It is my decision as to what evidence I wish to include in my review.” The professor went on to blame game bird releasing for a wide range of issues including increased fox numbers, damage to habitats, lead pollution and increased antibiotic resistance. 

However a review of the report by qualified experts at the GWCT demolished its methodology and conclusions. The review found that: “The overall conclusion of this process is that the report is not a scientific review but projects the image of being so. We have found that Harris (2021) both cherry picks the evidence and misrepresents those that he cites in the three examples considered here. The result is that the headline statements in the report look like they are scientifically supported when, in fact, they are not.”

The GWCT team then went on to point out examples of where Harris had misrepresented the evidence on fox numbers, dispersal of game birds and the ecological effects of releasing. On fox numbers Harris claimed: “In Britain, industry data show that between 80,000 and 200,000 foxes a year are supported solely by predating or scavenging non-native gamebirds.”

However the GWCT team was particularly blunt in its response to this claim saying: “There are no papers or other sources referred to in this report or elsewhere that support such statements. This is not simply because the work has not been done and there is a lack of evidence; all these statements and figures are unlikely to be true.”

Pro-shooting activist Gerry Christie said: “This report is the same kind of biased rubbish we saw churned out in the campaign to ban hunting. We have to get on this stuff and fast before lies take hold in the public’s minds.”