Row over shooting on Natural Resources Wales-managed land

A pheasant Image copyright Thinkstock

Talks are taking place over the future use of shooting permits on Welsh public land, BBC Wales understands.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is carrying out a review of shooting activity on its estates - but in March it renewed a number of shooting leases.

Activists said pheasant shoots on public land were a risk to animal welfare, protected species and safety.

NRW said the leases had been in place for more than a decade, and tenants had been told of the review.

Animal Aid said pheasant shoots take place in NRW-managed ancient woodland in mid and south Wales, some in areas of outstanding natural beauty.

The animal rights group said the quango earns about £6,000 a year from the sale of the shooting rights, and wildlife are killed to protect stocks of pheasants reared for shooting.

A spokesman added: "The land belongs to the people of Wales and not to NRW to lease out to a small number of private individuals.

"Any discussions about how this land will be used in the future must be conducted in an open and fully accountable manner."

'Emotive posturing'

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said shooting was "massively important" to the Welsh countryside.

It claimed the shooting industry is worth £75m to Wales and supports the equivalent of 2,400 jobs.

Jono Garton from the group said: "Decisions about land use should be based on hard evidence, not emotive posturing. "

But Animal Aid said freedom of information requests showed objections to the new leases were rejected.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "NRW is currently carrying out a review of its policy on shooting on NRW owned and managed land.

"NRW has assured us of its commitment to ensuring compliance and probity in respect of shooting on its land."

Tim Jones, NRW executive director for north and mid Wales, said all the shooting leases have "stringent conditions" to protect native wildlife.

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