Public to be consulted on future of shooting leases

The consultation is part of an official review into the future of animal shooting on Wales' public estates Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The consultation is part of an official review into the future of bird shooting on Wales' public estates

A public consultation will open on the future of recreational bird shooting on Natural Resources Wales-owned land.

It is part of a review into the practice on public estates in Wales - some pheasant shoots take place on public land across mid and south Wales.

Campaigners said it was "vital" that NRW allowed independent experts and the public to give their views.

The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) said it was "surprised" at the move.

Tim Russell, BASC's director of conservation, said: "Those involved in shooting provide voluntary conservation labour equivalent to 490 full-time jobs.

"BASC, therefore, believes that shooting makes a significant contribution to the public estate.

"We are surprised at the review because people that shoot on the public estate in Wales pay to do so."

A letter written by rural affairs secretary Lesley Griffiths AM, seen by the BBC, said the chief veterinary officer and wildlife policy officials would be consulted.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bird shooting takes place across publicly-owned woodland, including areas of outstanding natural beauty

An Animal Aid spokesman said it was "absurd" NRW had not previously sought the public's views on the issue.

"The people of Wales expressed no interest because what was going on was kept secret from them - which is unforgivable considering the land belongs to them," he added.

"It is vital that NRW allows independent experts, interested parties and the public as stakeholders to participate in the review process."

Ruth Jenkins, NRW's head of natural resource management, said: "We will be consulting publicly on our policy on recreational shooting and we are currently finalising the scope of the review and gathering evidence to inform our consultation proposals."

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

According BASC, the shooting industry is worth £64m to Wales and supports the equivalent of almost 2,500 full-time jobs.

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