Region: Wiltshire, South West region
BASC membership: 33+ years
Proposed by: I Egan
Seconded by: R Lee
I would like to share my views on how, if elected, I would propose to seek to contribute to shooting and hunting’s long-term future.
Our pursuit and activity will likely have a slight reprieve in the next few years from some of the previous onslaughts. Great changes though are going to come at us from many directions and the recent Defra proposals firmly indicate one direction of travel where the wider public will look for all users of the natural environment to robustly show that they are responsible trustees of this national land and biodiversity asset. We must use the intervening time wisely to position our role under the privileges extended to us using firearms and other methods to manage wild species, be they defined as pests or a legal food source.
Sustainability and conservation will no longer be just words to scatter about but must have solid peer-reviewed research underpinning them and be done in partnership with academia and the organisations we share a common purpose with. This will require us to reprioritise investment, and demonstrate that, at times on a species by species basis, the how, why, when and what we do irrefutably adds to the national and, at times, cross-border long-term future of species’ stock.
Traditionally, our reasoned voice in refuting the many false claims made by our opponents has worked well, yet it is often reactive. The dynamics of new media and the ever-shortening attention spans of the many readers see the first strike and sensationalised headlines shaping the court of public opinion’s mind. Our rebuttals, solid as they are, might resonate well with us, but the wider public, upon which we depend for support, or at least remaining neutral, are often distracted by the next day’s news and our rebuttal becomes less prominent. Raising the profile of research, our contribution to species’ survival and our substantial habitat management needs to become our future newsworthy stock-in-trade.
The ways in which game is responsibly pursued and used for food rather than sport will, I predict, also become topical as terminology also shapes opinions. Our role as countryside and habitat managers must take centre-stage.
I’d be bold enough to suggest that the term gamekeeper might even, in time, be widely replaced by conservation manager. Everything we do has to be on a foundation where we show competent skills in firearms safety. Today, we have an enviable record regarding legally held items; we must also invest in sustaining this via training, be it entry level or continuous skills improvement. The same goes for quarry recognition. Our sport will thrive as we show all-round skills. A few mishaps sadly grab and reverberate around the headlines; thus as we are a minority, many will suffer for the thoughtlessness of fewer than a handful of individuals.
The splendid work in taking the shooting and hunting part of the countryside message and activity to the urban population must also be extended, as increasingly this majority are detached from us.
THE ELECTION IS NOW CLOSED
The election results are due to be announced at the BASC AGM on 11 July 2020.