Woodpigeon This code of practice is currently under review. Related pages
The night shooting of foxes and ground game is necessary to ensure that damage to game, wildlife, livestock and growing crops is kept at acceptable levels. It is a safe and effective method of control. It is the responsibility of all those involved in pest control to ensure that it is carried out properly.
High standards underpin public and political support for shooting, now and in the future.
Advice that must be followed in order to achieve Best Practice – unless otherwise stated the term ‘must’ only applies to meeting the standards set by this Code of Practice and does not refer to a legal obligation.
Advice that should be followed in order to achieve Best Practice – any deviation from which would need justification.
It is essential when night shooting that the appropriate firearms and ammunition are used. Correct range judging is also essential to ensure the most effective shooting.
In most instances, game managers will prefer the use of a centrefire rifle for fox control. However, over appropriate distances and in certain circumstances, rimfire rifles may be appropriate.
In Northern Ireland, the Police Service will not generally approve a rifle of .243 calibre or above for fox control.
Strong consideration should be given to the use of sound moderators for both rimfire and centrefire rifles, particularly in areas close to human habitation or livestock. Sound moderators bring significant additional benefits in terms of hearing protection.
Shotguns with large magazine capacities (more than two cartridges) offer the user a significant advantage when dealing with large numbers of pests. Relevant authorisation to hold such firearms will be required under firearms licensing laws.
For ranges up to 30 metres, a 12 bore shotgun with a load of not less than 36 grams of large shot such as no. 1 or no. 3 is recommended as an effective alternative to a centrefire rifle for fox control.
Air rifles should never be used for shooting at foxes. Air rifles can be used for the night shooting of rabbits, but only at short range.
The Under Section 19 of the Firearms Act 1968 and Article 61 (1) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, A person commits an offence if, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof whereof lies with him) he has with him in a public place a loaded shotgun, an air weapon (whether loaded or not) or any other firearm (whether loaded or not) together with ammunition suitable for use in that firearm. Public place is defined as including any highway and any other premises or place to which at the time in question the public has access. It includes public rights of way.
Under Section 20 of the Firearms Act 1968 and Article 62 (2) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, A person who enters or is on any land, or enters any building (or part thereof) as a trespasser while he has a firearm or imitation firearm with him, shall be guilty of an offence unless he shows that he had lawful authority or reasonable excuse for doing so. In the 1968 Act “land” includes land covered with water.
The Highways Act 1980 Section 161 in England and Wales, makes it an offence to discharge without lawful authority or excuse any firearm within 50 feet of the centre of the highway (which consists of or comprises a carriageway) if in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered. This does not apply to footpaths and bridleways.
In Scotland, the Highways Act, does not apply but the offence of “reckless endangerment” exists under common law.
Article 61 (2) of the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, states that a person who discharges any firearm on any public road, or within 18 metres of the centre of any public road, or in any church, churchyard or burial ground, shall be guilty of an offence unless he shows that he had lawful authority or reasonable excuse for doing so.
Complaints often arise from shooting taking place from the highway. To avoid liability, ensure that all shooting takes place from vehicles actually on adjacent land where you have permission to shoot.
There are no specific legal restrictions on the night shooting of foxes. Authorised persons may legally carry out this form of fox control. Ensure that you comply with previous guidance in this code.
The night shooting of rabbits and hares by tenants or occupiers of land, who are not the owners of the land, are subject to the following restrictions. These do not apply to landowners, but they should be aware of the legal restrictions on shooting hares at night:
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 schedule 7 amended Section 6 of the Ground Game Act 1880 and Section 50 of The Agricultural (Scotland) Act 1948, to allow night shooting of ground game under certain conditions.
It is lawful for the occupier of any land himself, or one other person authorised by him, to use firearms for the purpose of killing ground game at night if the occupier has the written authority of a person entitled to kill or take the ground game on their land e.g. holder of shooting rights (except where the occupier has the exclusive rights). The following conditions apply:
Under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and in Scotland under the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994, it is an offence to shoot mountain hares (Lepus timidus) at night with the aid of a lamp or image intensifier, or at any time using any semi-automatic weapon with a magazine capable of holding more than two rounds of ammunition. However, licences can be granted to allow night shooting under certain circumstances.
‘Night’ is defined as one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Ground Game Act 1880, define ‘ground game’ as hares and rabbits.
There is no close season for rabbits or prohibited time of taking with the exception of the provisions of the Ground Game Acts 1880 and 1906, relating to the taking of rabbits on moorland and on unenclosed land.
There is no close season for hares in England and Wales except for the provisions of the Ground Game Act 1880 and 1906 relating to the taking of hares on moorland or unenclosed land. Hares are included in the definition of ‘game’ in the Game Act 1831 and are therefore protected on Sundays and Christmas Day.
In Scotland under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, there is a close season for brown hare from 1 February to 30 September and mountain hare are protected.
In England and Wales the Hares Preservation Act 1892 makes it an offence to sell or expose for sale any hare or leveret between 1 March and 31 July inclusive. This does not apply to imported foreign hares. In Scotland there is no close season for the sale of hare, however, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011, it is an offence to have in your possession, sell or offer to sell any hare which has been illegally taken.
Moorland and unenclosed land does not include arable land or detached portions of land less than 25 acres which adjoins arable land.
In England and Wales under the Ground Game Act 1880, as amended by the Ground Game (Amendment) Act 1906, occupiers or authorised persons may only take and kill ground game on moorland or unenclosed land between 1 September and 31 March inclusive; however, firearms may only be used for such purposes between 11 December and 31 March.
In Scotland, the Ground Game Act 1880 has been amended as follows by the Agriculture Act (Scotland) 1948 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011:
The occupier of the land or persons authorised by him may take rabbits, throughout the year, on moorlands and unenclosed lands (not being arable) by all legal means other than by shooting, and by means of firearms over the period from 1 July to 31 March inclusive. Hares to which this legislation also refers are now subject to a close season as a result of the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.
It is BASC runs courses on ‘Small Game and Lamping’ under the ‘Sporting Rifle’ banner. Each one-day course involves a morning in the classroom going through the detailed theory of rifle shooting while lamping, followed by an afternoon and early evening spent in the field. Contact the BASC Sporting Services department on 01244 573018 for further details.
It is advisable to have adequate legal liability (third-party) insurance when shooting. Membership of BASC includes insurance for recreational sporting activities.
All those who shoot in Britain should conduct themselves according to the law and to the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship and courtesy, with full respect for their quarry and a practical interest in wildlife conservation and the countryside.
Never guess at what the law allows. If in doubt, contact BASC or your local police firearms licensing department.
Woodpigeon This code of practice is currently under review. Related pages
Horses and shoots Code of Practice There are a number of causes for concern over safety issues between shooters and equestrians. However, a good relationship exists between the two groups and the problems should be easily overcome. These guidelines will help to contribute towards the safety of the riders and
Air rifle Code of Practice It is estimated that there are over six million air rifles in England and Wales, the vast majority of which are used in a safe and responsible manner. This code offers guidance to those who shoot with them. It does not apply in Northern Ireland