Wales

Almost 60,000 pheasants shot on University of Wales grounds, Newtown

A pheasant Image copyright Getty Images

About 57,000 pheasants have been released on to a university's sports grounds for shooting, with campaigners calling for the practice to end.

A Freedom of Information request by the League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) revealed birds were released at the University of Wales' (UoW) Gregynog Hall in Newtown, Powys, from 2013.

The charity described the scale of the shooting at the campus as "shocking".

UoW has said it will review the arrangements at Gregynog Hall.

Chris Luffingham, Lacs director of campaigns, said it was a "shame" that the university "are continuing to associate themselves with birds being blasted out of the sky for fun, which most people want to see stopped".

"Universities should be forward-thinking, not dragged backwards by cruel traditions," he said.

The charity's figures also show about 160 native wild animals - including foxes and corvids - have been killed by gamekeepers to preserve the land for shooting parties.

"Pheasants are literally being factory-farmed on an industrial scale and released by their tens of thousands into the university's grounds, where they are being used as feathered targets," Mr Luffingham said.

He called on the university not to renew its pheasant shooting leases.

A spokeswoman for UoW said: "The University of Wales has received the correspondence from the League Against Cruel Sports regarding this matter, and is currently in the process of reviewing the structure and arrangements for Gregynog Hall."

Lacs said the birds were reared at nearby Bettws Hall and then "shipped off" to shooting estates around the UK.

The company's website said it hatched millions of pheasants and partridges each year.

It has been approached for a comment by the BBC.

The Countryside Alliance Director for Wales, Rachel Evans, said that gamekeeping is a "conservation success story" partially due to its management of pest and predator animals.

Ms Evans added: "LACS attack it because it does not fit their narrow ideological agenda, but all credible conservation charities recognise the importance of pest and predator control.

"LACS are currently waging a campaign against any institutions they believe they can isolate and bully into adopting their view of the world, and the University of Wales is the current victim. In fact, gamekeeping's role in maintaining the beautiful, wildlife-rich Gregynog landscape should be celebrated."

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