October 5: Suffering of game birds for sport

Have your say

From: Dr Toni Shephard, Head of Research, League Against Cruel Sports.

WHILE we agree that getting out into the countryside is a good thing (Tim Bonner, The Yorkshire Post, Octrober 1), we wonder why there is no mention of the appalling welfare conditions suffered by these non-native game birds, nor of the shooting industry’s negative impacts on the environment, conservation and health. The piece also wildly overstates any economic benefits to the UK.

Any illusions the public may still have of happy birds roaming freely before being cleanly shot for the pot should be banished completely. The harsh reality is that most of the 35 million birds released every year by shooting estates come from breeding birds that are factory-farmed in small wire-mesh cages. They are then fattened in overcrowded sheds and pens after being mutilated through the nose with a ‘bit’ to stop them attacking other birds – only to suffer a drawn-out, pointless death at the hands of people who pay for the pleasure. And with an average of 500 birds shot down on each shoot, most of the birds are dumped in a pit, not eaten.

As for conservation, there is widespread concern that releasing large numbers of non-native birds like pheasants has an adverse impact on native wildlife. Multiple studies suggest stocking game birds at this density reduces food available for native bird species and damages habitats vital for nesting birds as well as endangering certain butterfly species. In addition, to keep the maximum number of game birds alive until they can be shot dead by paying shooters requires the wholesale slaughter of native predator animals.

The economic argument for shooting is also wrong, with economists finding it based on weak methodology, omissions and flaws, with the massive public subsidies received by the industry not taken into account.

We would also take issue with the health benefits of game. The widespread use of toxic lead shot accumulates and contaminates the soil, and is consumed by those who eat shot game. Lead negatively affects humans and other animals at the lowest measurable concentrations and has already been banned from most uses that could result in human and wildlife exposure. Yet the UK shooting industry continues to defend the use of lead ammunition.

Chiefs who can’t add up

From: A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Leeds.

I SEE hospitals in Leeds are in trouble again as debts mount. NHS trusts in England report a deficit of £822m compared to only £115m last year. How is this possible? They say many of the problems were linked to a massive overspend on agencies, but don’t they have any accountants who tell them they are overspending?

It seems the NHS is run by people who can’t understand arithmetic and think money grows on trees. Why else can we be in such a mess? Maybe quantitative easing can help them out.

Feel free to back the EU

From: Patrick Kelly, East Mount Road, York.

IAN Oglesby’s suggestion (The Yorkshire Post, October 1) that those who favour the UK staying in the EU should relocate to France in the event of withdrawal is all too typical of the extremist language of the anti-Europe brigade.

Britain has a reputation for tolerance and in a democratic society people should be free to hold supportive views of the EU without being “invited” to leave the country by their opponents.

Our mixed-up energy policy

From: David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, York.

SHALE, please. No gas from Russia. We’ll rely on China for our nuclear. Joined-up thinking? And we’ve entrusted this Government with our future and that of our grandchildren!

That’s just so annoying

From: Mervyn Jackson, Windmill Rise, Belper, Derbyshire.

IN The Yorkshire Post recently, Susan Towle asked if anyone has noticed how often the word ‘so’ is used to start a sentence. I share her irritation. Quite often, on Radio 4’s Today programme, experts are asked scientific or medical etc, topics and invariably they start their explanation with ‘So’.

It is almost as annoying as the ubiquitous ‘like’, as in the expression, ‘I was like, Oh my God!’

Bramble rambles

From: Michael J Robinson, Park Lane, Berry Brow, Huddersfield.

IN his Country & Coast Viewpoint (The Yorkshire Post, September 30), Roger Ratcliffe tells us about blackberries. I wonder if he has ever noticed that blackberry brambles are frequently found alongside railway lines, beneath the accompanying telegraph wires where birds are wont to sit.

Happily, brambles are contained here, but I believe that hundreds of square miles of Australia’s interior became utterly impenetrable where introduced brambles were allowed to flourish unhindered.

Degree of optimism

From: Mr Ruthven Urquhart, High Hunsley, Cottingham.

I ADDRESS this to all those students who failed to gain a place at university following their final school year. Please don’t lose heart – neither Sir Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare nor Admiral Nelson went to university and I believe they generally achieved a lot in life on our behalf.