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Parties reveal manifestos at last — and it’s bad news

Labour continues class warfare on trail-hunting, the Greens vow to end the badger cull, as main parties unveil their pledges for 4 July.

The Labour Party has finally unveiled its manifesto which — along with those of other main contenders — makes commitments that would severely negatively impact the fieldsports community. 

Labour’s manifesto lumps the use of humane cable restraints — an essential tool for conservation and predator control – and trail-hunting together with puppy smuggling. “We will ban trail-hunting and the import of hunting trophies. We will end puppy-smuggling and farming, along with the use of snare traps,” it states. 

Andrew Gilruth, chief executive of the Moorland Association, told Shooting Times: “The best way to achieve biodiversity is to keep every conservation tool we have in order to protect our rarest species. The idea of removing the use of traps that meet international humaneness standards, such as non-lethal fox snares, will not be welcomed by the ground-nesting birds that face being eaten alive. Only the animal rights movement could persuade a political party that this is progress.” 

The Liberal Democrats have been accused of ignoring scientific evidence when it comes to muirburn by pledging to ban “routine heather burning”. This has prompted criticism from rural campaigners who warn that such a move would have a major negative impact on biodiversity, and risk dangerous wildfires. 

Last year, the Future Landscapes Forum (FLF), a consortium of academics and upland management experts, found controlled burning improves biodiversity, enhances carbon capture and, most importantly, helps prevent wildfires by limiting the fuel load. 

Adrian Blackmore, director of shooting at the Countryside Alliance, commented: “It is disappointing that the Liberal Democrats have chosen to ignore the available science and evidence on heather burning, an essential tool that improves biodiversity and minimises the devastating impact of wildfires.” 

The Green Party has promised to ban all fieldsports and an end to the badger cull. 

Graham Downing, secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, said: “The manifesto pledge by the Green Party for a ‘ban on all blood sports, including trail-hunting’ is clearly a matter of great concern, and it will be for individual shooters to ask their local Green candidates to confirm the extent to which any such ban would affect shooting.” 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to leave the Hunting Act 2004 unchanged if the Conservations retain power after the election on 4 July.