The Petitions Committee

National Assembly for Wales

Cardiff Bay

CF99 1NA


30 May 2018


Dear Committee Members


Animal Aid would like to thank the Committee for considering petition P-05-816 Say NO to pheasant shooting on Welsh public land.


We would like to make the following observations in relation to the letter from Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths that was sent to the Committee.


Regarding NRW’s Shooting Review, the Committee may not be aware of a recent development in relation to the consultation. Specifically, Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports have requested that the two independent reviewers – Dr Hillyard and Professor Marvin – employed to oversee the consultation, should be removed from the process. This request was prompted by the discovery that Dr Hillyard goes shooting and that Professor Marvin’s research papers demonstrate an interest in ‘country sports’. I have attached a recent article from the Western Mail which substantiates our case.


Secondly, Ms Griffiths’ letter makes reference to the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds. There are two issues arising from this. Firstly, the Code does not take into account the most basic needs of the birds who are used by the shooting industry. Keeping breeding birds in cages deprives them of their need to fly and results in stress and even mortality. Game farms are not routinely inspected by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and visits to game farm establishments only appear to take place if a complaint has been made.


Animal Aid’s investigations at game farms have revealed that the Code of Practice is often disregarded. Just this year, Animal Aid found birds kept in barren cages at Bettws Hall game farm in Wales. We reported our findings to the Minister, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the local Trading Standards department. A 2nd April email from Powys Trading Standards stated, ‘’I have been in contact with APHA Wales who have informed me, that, in response to your E Mail, they have carried out an inspection of the premises and that they found no breaches in legislation.  I therefore have to advise that on this occasion Trading Standards will not be taking any further action in relation to the matter.’ This is despite Animal Aid providing clear photographic evidence of barren cages in use at Bettws Hall.


On 24 May, Animal Aid’s investigator returned to Bettws Hall. Our investigator checked 20 units used to hold breeding pheasants. All but two of the units were barren, in breach of the Code. Of the two ‘enriched’ cages, one had a green plastic privacy curtain and the other had a brick inside. We have, once again, reported our findings to the relevant authorities.


It is therefore our opinion that the Code of Practice is not fit for purpose as it fails the birds under the Animal Welfare Act. Furthermore, the Code is not adhered to by some farmers and reporting breaches of the Code does not appear to result in any action being taken to safeguard the welfare of the birds.


NRW has also stated that it is not currently able to check where the birds shot on its land are sourced from, and whether the birds have come from an establishment that is compliant with the Code of Practice, or not.


On a final note, it is important to note the level of public opposition to the shooting of birds for sport. In addition to the 12,700+ people who signed the petition that will be considered by the Committee, a poll commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports and Animal Aid found that 74 per cent of people polled in Wales thought that the shooting of birds should be made illegal. After learning how chicks are bred for sport shooting, 76 per cent said they oppose the shooting of game birds for sport on publicly owned land in Wales.



Thank you again for your consideration of our petition.


Yours sincerely





Fiona Pereira

Campaign Manager, Animal Aid.






Enc: letter to Lesley Griffiths