Did anyone know that since 1975, Britain has lost half of its farmland birds and in total we have lost over 40 million birds in the UK? Most people will never again hear a nightingale, see a turtle dove or a hen harrier and skylarks are disappearing from the skies as I write this post. How sad is that if you are a lover of the wildlife?
At the same time 30 million pheasants are released from pens to create chaos amongst the indigenous bird population, smash in to cars on country lanes, and ruin every countryside public footpath dog walk I go on from September until Christmas.
On the whole I have no problem with pheasant shoots, they are game birds that by tradition are ‘shot for the pot’ and sold to local butchers, pubs and restaurants. At least they were. Now they are part of a culture of greed where landowners release the bastard things on mass, allowing them to stray on public roads and footpaths like they own the countryside. As far as many (but not all) landowners are concerned, indigenous British birds can just fuck off and die, which of course they do, on mass.
Like everything that is bad, the problem with the cull on wildlife is happening because it is entrenched in the establishment where people in parliament are landowners or associated to them, so they have the ability and influence in passing of laws, or indeed ignoring them. This is not only unfair to the public but also landowners and farmers trying to do the right thing for wildlife and biodiversity. Getting tarred with the same brush as those who smash the countryside apart can’t be pleasant.
My dog has killed a fair few pheasants on public land which doesn’t particularly bother me, but what does, is the ruination of many of my country walks when he tears off on the scent of a pheasant that is there courtesy of a massive September release where half of the game escapes and doesn’t get ‘shot for the pot’.
Some people suggest that I should keep my dog on a lead but why should I on public land? It kind of defies the logic of giving a dog a fun and interesting life if you have to keep the poor bugger on a lead every time you go for a walk. To make matters worse, if my dog takes a pheasant on private land, the gamekeeper can shoot it, but if one causes a car crash on a country lane, there is nothing the victims can do about it.
So, to reiterate the point, if a landowners pheasant gets killed by a dog on private land, big trouble, but if a pheasant released from the same pen causes a car crash, no comeback for the landowner. Go on, work that one out.
Time and again I find myself explaining to people that I am not against controlled pheasant shooting yet time and again I am shut down by people saying I have an agenda against game shooting in Hampshire.
My agenda is not against responsible landowners, it is against people who feel that it is just dandy to wipe out the indigenous bird population of Great Britain if it means protecting the 30 million pheasants that swamp the countryside every autumn. I can’t buy into that ideology.
What makes it worse is that the perpetrators of wildlife genocide have the audacity to stick a ‘Countryside Alliance’ sticker on the back window of their car as some sort of gesture to indicate that they love the country.
That’s just taking the piss.