Organised game shooting will no longer be permitted on land owned by the university

Following an internal review, the University of Reading has decided to stop organised game shooting on its land. It will also no longer allow university farmland to be used to raise pheasants or partridges for shooting “once an existing agreement with an external group that uses University farmland comes to an end in February 2020”.

The academic centre has long been a destination for students wishing to study land management but modules included on the BSc , such as ‘Managing Recreation on the Rural Estate’ and  ‘Rural Policy & Land Use’ are now likely to see significant alteration.

A University of Reading spokesperson said: “The University of Reading is known in the region and around the world as a leading centre for the study of agriculture, food and the environment. While there are many arguments for and against game shooting, this decision was taken based on what is the most appropriate use of University land, based on our values and plans for the future.”

A statement from the university explained its reasoning thus: “The (review) group considered evidence that included submissions from groups in favour or against the practice of game shooting, as well as comments from students, staff and members of the public.”

Campaign by animal rights extremists

Response from the fieldsports fraternity has been swift: BASC says: “It is with grave disappointment that the university – an agricultural institution – has decided to end its relationship with the small, well-managed shoot on its land.

“BASC gave its support to the university but, in the end, a campaign by animal rights extremists created pressure that became too great for the university to tolerate.

“As a research institution, we are astonished at the conclusion the university has reached. This is not a decision based on clear, sound evidence that shooting is good for economies and the environment, rather a response to placate extremists.”

Chris Luffingham, from League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) stated: “The ecological impact of the commercial shooting industry is huge, and we would urge all private landowners to follow the university’s good example and ban shooting for ‘sport’ on their land.”

Wales banned pheasant shooting on public land from March 2019. The then Environment Minister for Wales, Hannah Blythyn, was roundly criticised by fieldsports groups for imposing the decision on Natural Resources Wales, contrary to evidence produced by a comprehensive review and public consultation into the future of shooting on Welsh public land.