A Working Dog and the Cash for Grouse Scandal!

Posted on January 5, 2016

One of the things I am asked most about my pet dog is “Are you going to work it?”

As it is a breed that is generally, but not exclusively, bred as a gun dog, it is a legitimate question and one that I have given minor consideration, especially as I have a landowner friend who runs occasional informal pheasant shoots that are low on participants as well as genocide levels.

I actively dislike pheasants, so I would not mourn their passing as they are not an indigenous member of the British wildlife and they carry the brain capacity of a lobotomised rocking horse, prancing around in front of your car before wedging into your radiator grill.

I dislike them because there are millions of them and they have at least in part, been responsible for the culling and near extinction of indigenous birds such as buzzards, kites and hen harriers; the hen harrier, courtesy of the grouse moors of the uplands, has virtually disappeared.

Kites and Buzzards are now protected and are thriving once again, but if the likes of Tory MP, Lord Benyon, the owner of swathes of hunting land, had his way, they would be extinct. He even attempted to pass a law to allow the culling of birds of prey in what must have been one of the most self-serving attempts at passing a bill in the history of politics.

However, if my dog wanted to collect pheasants, I wouldn’t mind to be honest. They taste nice if you can avoid the lead shot and they were a regular feature on my dinner plate courtesy of the poachers and land owners who regularly used my mother’s pub, the Wellington Arms in Baughurst. ‘Shot for the pot’, as the saying used to go.

But the fact is there are too many of them and the people who own and shoot them, receive exceptional financial privileges for doing so. This wouldn’t be so bad if they were poor farmers living in shacks but most of these guys are loaded (if you excuse the pun) receiving vast sums from City boys out for massacre as a way of relieving the stress brought about by bankrupting the financial industry.


An easy kill: Brainless pheasants end up not in the pot but burial sites

I don’t mind people getting rich but like the shooting of a useless pheasant, this is hardly fair game and I will tell you why.

Firstly, the guns they use to kill pheasants (something a 12 year-old could hit with a pea -shooter) are licensed to an owner who is hopefully less mental than someone who wants to wreak revenge on his old school. This license fee has been frozen at £50:00 since 2000.

The police aren’t happy as it costs them around £190 to administrate a license which costs the force (and ultimately the tax payer) £17 million a year. Whilst items like passports and driving licenses that us mere peasants (not to be confused with pheasants) genuinely need, go up in line with inflation, gun owners are absolved from any increase despite the word on the street that “we are all in this together”.

If this isn’t taking the piss quite enough for your liking, try this one for size. Just last week the Government announced that the subsidy it offers for grouse moors is to rise from £30.00 to £56.00 per hectare. That’s right, whilst austerity hits hard, with councils closing down swimming pools, libraries and bus services, the richest people in this country are getting a subsidy increase and getting their gun license cost frozen.

You wish I was making this up don’t you, but I’m not I am afraid and guess what, there’s more piss taking with regards to the pheasant.

When pheasants are reared, you are probably aware that they are classed as livestock, meaning the people who raise them are exempt many payments of VAT as well as planning control on the basis food is being produced.

However, check this out. As soon as they’re released they become wild animals because otherwise you wouldn’t be allowed to blow their empty heads off. But if you gather up the survivors at the end of the shooting season and use them as breeding stock, they cease to be wild and become livestock again. Why? Because you aren’t allowed to catch wild birds with nets you fools.

However, if pheasants cause damage to gardens, cars, or to the people travelling in cars, the land owner who released them is not liable, because for this purpose they are classed as wild animals, even if they are being rounded up as legal livestock as they plough in to your radiator grill.

I have to accept that this quite clever, but it is also a great indication of how the people who are the wealthiest, create laws for themselves and rob the treasury blind for doing nothing except having jolly ups where pheasants are just shot for the hell of it and end up not in a boiling pot to feed a hungry family, but in a mass grave.

Sadly, there are swathes of land owners on the take, having laws made for them by MP’s who are land owners themselves; it is one of the most self-serving aspects of this government and it would seem, such is their power, that all we can do is shrug our shoulders.

Not all land owners are bad; in fact some refuse to sell-up at a huge price to corrupt solar farms and Russian oligarchs trying to recreate Downton Abbey for themselves. However, some of the largest and wealthiest farmers have no respect for indigenous species of Britain and operate in a system where everything has a price, hiding behind a Countryside Alliance banner as they do so.

So, as much as I hate pheasants, whilst these laws are made up and free cash is dished out to the rich as food banks open all over the country, my dog will have to remain a well walked country pet.

It’s all about principle you see and sadly, principles are what many land owners are bereft of.



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