AS AN occasional visitor to Chichester, I was amused to read the letter on your pages of Adrian Blackmore from the Countryside Alliance: “Proud to Shoot”.
The shooting industry has been trying to ‘big up’ game shooting and seek public approval since 1908. The Countryside Alliance is a more recent spokesman. All the elements of the spun defence for shooting are in Mr Blackmore’s letter.
“Shooting has shaped our landscape.” Yes but not all of it is any way good. Take a look first at the scarred, drained and burned grouse moorland of England and Scotland.
“Wildlife thrives where land is properly managed for shooting.” This describes ruthless predator control, frequently with indiscriminate snares. Only selected wildlife is allowed to survive. Kill all the lions on the Serengeti and of course all the zebras will thrive – for a while.
“It provides employment.” It is employment for only a few but part-time low quality, insecure work or beating and picking-up for the majority which adds to “the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs”.
“It makes an enormous contribution to the rural economy.” When the shooting industry commissioned a questionnaire-based survey of its own membership in 2006, it self-valued shooting worth £1.6billion to the UK economy. Now, only nine years later, in a period of austerity and low inflation, it has unbelievably aggrandised an already suspect statistic to £2billion. This despite the recent abandonment of the Country Land Owners’ and Business Association Annual Game Fair through lack of interest and a failure to break-even during the same period.
“Game meat is a wild, free-range alternative to farmed meat.” To buy this line you must ignore the Food Standard Agency advice that game shot with lead is not recommended for pregnant women or developing children.
Finally, if you want to enjoy “crisp, winter days in the field with your dog or friends” as Blackmore lauds, you should be aware that on shooting grounds, your way is likely to be barred even under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. Attitudes in shooting have not changed. You will be as unwelcome as the righteous pioneers of the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932.