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Shooting groups unite to condemn law-breaking shoots

Leading shooting representatives have urged DEFRA to introduce new checks allowing the police to trace inland shoots that are believed to be breaking lead ammunition laws

mallards in flight

Countryside organisations have condemned inland shoots that are breaking the law by using lead shot for wildfowl, and have appealed to DEFRA to help identify and prosecute those responsible.

Representatives from eight groups, including BASC and the Countryside Alliance, signed a letter to DEFRA secretary of state Elizabeth Truss MP.

Some inland shoots are still ignoring the lead ammunition laws

The letter acknowledges that while almost all coastal wildfowlers are in compliance, there is evidence that some inland shoots are still ignoring the law concerning lead ammunition, despite the risk of a £1,000 fine and a criminal conviction.

The full text of the letter reads: “We write as members of the Code of Good Shooting Practice. The Environment Protection (Restrictions on the Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999, as amended, prohibits the use of lead shot when shooting any wild bird listed in the schedule, when shooting below the high water mark of ordinary spring tides and on or over specified SSSI’s.

“We are concerned that there are instances where some shoots may be ignoring the regulations and using lead shot when shooting wildfowl.

 “Shooting and countryside organisations have run regular campaigns urging compliance with the law. To our knowledge, compliance among coastal wildfowlers is near 100 per cent, but we continue to hear rumours of non-compliance on some large inland game and duck shoots. This is supported by research on ducks bought from gamedealers.

“Before the current season, larger duck shoots were written to remind them of the importance of complying with the law, but we believe that more is needed to encourage compliance. We understand the regulations have never been enforced by the police. We would welcome DEFRA’s assistance in ensuring that checks are conducted on ducks in game processors, which can be traced back to the shoot, by the police. We believe that this will produce evidence of offences such as the use of lead shot. Action such as this will encourage compliance, which will be for the long-term benefit of responsible shooting and the countryside. We would be very grateful for any assistance you can give in ensuring that the law is enforced.”

Leading shooting representatives

The signatories are BASC chairman Alan Jarrett, Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner, National Gamekeepers’ organisation chairman Lindsay Waddell, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust chief executive Teresa Dent, CLA president Ross Murray, Moorland Association chairman Robert Benson, national Game Dealers’ Association chairman Stephen Crouch, and Bill Tyrwhitt-Drake, chairman of the Code of Good Shooting Practice.

The letter comes soon after a plea by BASC and the Countryside Alliance for wildfowlers to comply with the lead laws. At the time, Simon Prince, national lead for rural crime, warned that those breaking the law faced prosecution.