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Is Wales moving towards a ban on all fieldsports?

Welsh rural workers have expressed concerns for their future, says Matt Cross

general licence ban in Wales

The Welsh government appears to be growing increasingly hostile to fieldsports and deaf to concerns over conservation impact.

A post which was widely circulated on fieldsports groups across a number of social media platforms claimed that the Welsh government and Natural Resources Wales had decided to phase out all fieldsports in Wales. This is not true, however policy in Wales towards fieldsports has become increasingly hostile in recent years, with much more restrictive general licences, a probable change in the law around the use of hounds and the Welsh government openly stating that it does not support live quarry shooting as a leisure activity. This has led many to conclude that the Welsh government is moving towards a ban or a set of extreme restrictions. 

Concern over the future of shooting, fishing and other fieldsports in Wales has now grown to such an extent that Welsh Conservative Senedd member Samule Kurz has written to Minister for Climate Change, Julie James MS, asking for “some much-needed clarification on this matter”.

Welsh pest controller and former Gamekeeper Rhys Morgan told Shooting Times: “To be honest I think they’re deliberately destroying fieldsports”. He went on to point to a list of actions taken by Welsh politicians and officials. “During lockdown they wouldn’t even give grants, furlough etc to keepers/estates. Now they’re changing the general licensing to prohibit the killing of magpies amongst others, unless they’re predating nesting red listed birds that will affect shoots. But it will affect wildlife even more.” 

Welsh gamekeeper Geraint Jones saw similar attitudes at work and believes the causes lie in the politics of Wales. Geraint said: “The only place we will change the problems affecting rural Wales is at the ballot box. That’s my take on it all as they don’t want to listen. The challenge is that only 20% of the vote is in rural areas. So how do we change attitudes in Welsh government if they fail to hear the message?”

Geraint explained that given the political climate he feared for his future:  “I’d also like to know what plans they have for a 50+ years of age rural worker with a family, if they do succeed in taking my livelihood away?”