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Commenting on the 50 point Labour animal welfare manifesto published today BASC, the UK’s largest shooting and conservation organization, has welcomed some of the policy statements while questioning others that could have a detrimental impact on wildlife management activities in the countryside.

BASC is committed to animal welfare and the association particularly welcomes Labour’s commitment to improve enforcement and toughen penalties to deal with the illegal persecution of birds of prey. BASC also welcomes the development of a National Wildlife Crime Strategy, and the proposal for the default position to be that tenants should be able to keep pets. BASC is aware of members who are Council or Housing Association tenants who have had issues with landlords when they are banned from keeping gundogs in their homes.

Having witnessed serious welfare problems with the deer at the League Against Cruel Sports’ animal sanctuary at Baronsdown in Somerset, BASC believes the regulation of animal sanctuaries would also improve animal welfare.

There continues to be a lack of clarity on certain points. For example, no definition is provided for ‘threatened species’ when discussing the importation of ‘trophies’, and the proposed ban on the cage rearing of gamebirds appears to be based on a misunderstanding because no gamebirds are reared in cages. Cages are used by a minority of game farms for laying stock.

Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said:

“Labour’s plan to remove specific shooting-related exemptions from the Hunting Act is of particular concern. These exemptions were made to honour the pledge made by the Labour government that shooting would not be affected by the hunting ban. These were approved by Labour parliamentary majorities and the code of practice on the use of a dog below ground to protect gamebirds was issued by a Labour government.

”We are also particularly concerned by the damage that could be done to effective and humane wildlife management by a ban on snaring. Modern free running snares, which are required by the law do not kill but restrain. Their importance for employment near built-up areas where the use of firearms would be unwise and their use at particular times of the year when cover is high, was recognized by the last Labour government, which issued a code of practice on their use.

“There is much to be applauded within the manifesto from promoting high standards to tackling criminality and promoting sustainability but more detail and some changes are required. BASC will be meeting members of the Labour Shadow Environment team in the coming weeks and will be seeking clarification, changes and making the argument for well-regulated shooting and wildlife management in detail.”

 

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