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Help keep shooting on Welsh land

Natural Resources Wales has proposed to let shooters keep using its land but some fear the animal rights lobby may apply pressure.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Robert Haasmann/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock (5774899a) Common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) in meadow, Neusiedl, Burgenland, Austria VARIOUS

Shooters are being asked to help decide the future of fieldsports on Natural Resources Wales (NRW) land after new proposals for firearms use were revealed. These came about following a review allegedly launched under pressure from animal rights campaigners.

NRW carried out the review into the use of firearms on its land last year due to the introduction of new legislation and to examine whether firearms were being used “for the right reasons, in the right circumstances and in the most sustainable way possible”.

Animal rights pressure

At the time, the Countryside Alliance (CA) accused NRW of giving in to pressure from animal rights group Animal Aid.

But the CA, along with other stakeholders, has now “warmly welcomed” the NRW’s response after it set out three proposals on how to address those concerns. The proposals are that NRW should: continue to use firearms on its land to manage damage caused by wild animals where it is “essential for the sustainable management of natural resources”; consider all applications to enter on to its land to control wild animals affecting neighbouring land; and consider leasing land for pheasant rearing and shooting and wildfowling where it doesn’t “negatively impact sustainable management of the areas”.

A follow-up consultation will now seek responses to these proposals and shooters are being urged to make their voices heard. Rachel Evans, CA director for Wales, said the campaign to “counter the anti-firearms propaganda of the animal rights movement” had been a success, but urged members and supporters to respond to the public consultation. “Where we are strong with facts and experience, the animal rights movement is strong in numbers,” she added. “We know they will respond in large numbers to this consultation and we need our members to do the same.”

Sustainable management

In its response to the review, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust told NRW that alternatives to firearms, such as forest design, are not very effective. BASC explained how the use of firearms can help NRW to ensure the environment and natural resources are sustainably managed.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said it would make the NRW “properly aware of the important role sporting firearms play in helping to deliver a range of economic, environmental, social and cultural benefits”.

The consultation is open until 25 April and you can respond by tel 03000 653000, email at [email protected] or online