The first phase out of lockdown in Wales takes place from 1 June.
While households will be allowed to meet outdoors, all activities must remain within the local area. This is defined as not travelling further than five miles to reduce the risk of Coronavirus spreading.
With no mention to what outdoor activities can take place during this first phase, BASC has contacted the Welsh Government for their views on shooting, both game and target, so they are referenced thoroughly.
Essential pest control can still be undertaken in Wales and BASC has contacted DCC Dave Orford, national police lead for firearms licensing, to ensure all four Welsh police forces are issuing consistent and fair advice to firearms licence holders.
Deputy Chief Constable Dave Orford, the national lead on firearms licensing, has provided clarity on shooting in England under the current Covid-19 guidance following concerns raised by BASC, other shooting organisations and police forces.
DCC Orford says he has clarified the position with government and he will give clear instructions to individual constabularies that shooting can take place under the current regulations as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
As expected the First Minister announced on the 28 May that we would be entering into Phase 1 of the Routemap on 29 May.
From 29 May in Scotland ‘non-contact outdoor activities in the local area’ will be permitted. This means that recreational deer stalking, pigeon shooting and angling, for example, will be able to take place provided they take place locally – defined as ‘broadly within five miles’ of home – and in a solitary manner. The “strong advice” is that you should not travel more than five miles. In Phase 3, individuals will be able to travel further for exercise and recreation, including shooting and stalking, outside of their local area.
While this will be a great relief for those who have shooting or fishing opportunities near home, it will be of little benefit for those who would have to travel further for their chosen recreation.
BASC has updated its advice for shooting, work on shoots and pest control in England – but not in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland – following the government’s latest changes to the regulations for fighting Covid 19.
In line with the Prime Minister’s statement, from Wednesday 13th May, deer stalking, pest control, conservation and seasonal work on game shoots are possible so long as they meet the requirements described below:
- You may carry out these activities with those from your household group or one person who is not from your household group.
- You may travel any distance in England with people from your household group to engage in these activities. If you are meeting a person who is not from your household group they may not travel in the same vehicle as you do.
- You must observe the rules on social distancing at all times.
- You must have the permission of the landowner before engaging in any shooting or shooting related work on their land.
- Any pest control must conform to the law and the general licences.
- Deer management must be conducted according to the law. Roebucks are currently in season and Muntjac may be managed at any time of the year.
- Before shooting any quarry species you should consider how the meat will be put into the food chain.
If in any doubt about how your local police will react you should contact the police before shooting, inform them that you are planning your activities within the current regulations and obtain the reference number for the call. You should also carry your certificate with you in case you are challenged by the police.
Essential pest control letter template
During the current Coronavirus lockdown, many members are still required to undertake essential wildlife management/pest control duties.
Where such activity is essential to ensure the food supply chain and/or animal welfare (e.g protecting crops, livestock or their foodstuffs), we have been advising that members obtain a letter from the landowner outlining the essential need for their activity. This letter can be produced by the member should they be challenged by the authorities questioning their ‘reasonable excuse’ for being away from their home during the current lockdown.
This template should only be used by members to document requests for essential wildlife management/pest control from landowners. It is an offence under S28 the Coronavirus Act to provide information to the authorities that is false or misleading. To do so may result in a fine.
The chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Shooting and Conservation, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, received an answer to his parliamentary question from the 13 May.
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of (a) clay shooting and (b) target rifle shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.
It is vital that people continue to be active during the Covid-19 outbreak to support their physical and mental health.
On 11 May, Government published updated guidance on lockdown measures, including updates on how people can remain active. Since Wednesday 13 May, people have been allowed to go outside more than once a day for exercise as long as they are following social distancing guidelines, alone, with members of their household, or with one person from outside of their household. People must still only exercise in groups of no more than two people, unless they are exercising with their household.
All outdoor sports and physical activities are now permitted, without time limit, including outdoor shooting, with the exception of swimming in an open-air swimming pool. This does not apply to individuals’ private swimming pools within their own homes.
The Government has said people can now leave their homes for the purposes of open-air recreation in public open spaces to promote their physical or mental health or emotional wellbeing. What counts as “open-air recreation” is not defined in the regulations but would include shooting. The regulations define public open spaces as:
(a) Land laid out as a public garden or used for the purpose of recreation by members of the public;
(b) land which is "open country" as defined in section 59(2) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, as that definition has been extended by section 16(1) of the Countryside Act 1968;
(c) land which is "access land" for the purposes of Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (see section 1(1) of that Act)
The Government has published guidance on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation. Outdoor sports courts and other outdoor sporting activities are permitted to reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so and they can do so safely, following public health guidance. This can be found on the GOV.UK website here.
We have pulled together a number of resources to help pass the time.
From fun activities for children to how to prepare your dog for the season, we have something for everyone.
I am a gamekeeper and live on the shoot where I am employed, am I still allowed to undertake my normal tasks away from the house?
Yes, if you follow government coronavirus guidance around social distancing. It would also be a good idea to make arrangements for someone to provide cover for specific work areas such as trap checking should you be unable to check them.
Because of social distancing measures, I will now be undertaking essential pest control alone. Should I be taking any additional safety measures?
It is good practice when working alone to put some additional safety measures in place. As a minimum you should inform someone of where you are going, and your return time. (What3words.com is a useful website to give someone an accurate location). A ‘buddy system’ of regular ‘check in’ phone calls with a family member or colleague may also be appropriate if you are working alone for extended periods. In the event that you fail to get in contact, then your contact should know the steps to take in order to locate you or if necessary raise the alarm with the emergency services.
Although our staff are currently working from home as per the government’s social distancing advice, our experts are on hand to answer questions relevant to their department. If you email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance, your query will be forwarded to the relevant person and they will get on touch with you.
Yes, essential travel to work is permitted if you are unable to work from home but again whilst at work you must follow government coronavirus guidance around social distancing. You may also wish to get a letter from your employer advising of your need to travel to work to show the police, should you be stopped
Is my BASC liability and personal accident insurance valid while I am providing pest control for farmers, for instance to protect vulnerable crops from pigeon or deer and to protect lambs from fox predation?
Yes, provided it is legitimate activity in accordance with BASC’s insurance policy.
Can I travel to my shoot and undertake recreational shooting such as getting the clay trap out or doing some repairs to the pen?
In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales non-essential travel should not be undertaken and the above would not be following the latest government Coronavirus guidance.
Clay shooting and other recreational shooting activities are now permitted in England and there is no restriction on the distance that you can travel.
You can also carry out these activities with someone from your household or with one person who is not. BUT you must follow government guidelines around self-distancing and gatherings.
I manage a shooting related business and I have closed my business during the coronavirus outbreak following government guidance. What government support is available to me and similar businesses during this time?
For advice on specific business support in England and an overview visit here.
For advice on specific business support in Wales visit here.
For advice on specific business support in Northern Ireland visit here.
All shops in Scotland, including gun shops, are classified as a retail business and are therefore eligible to apply for a £25,000 retail, hospitality and leisure support grant. Shooting ranges, such as clay grounds, are also eligible. Grants can be applied for via local authority websites. Other rated businesses which are not registered to premises defined as ‘shootings’, ‘deer forests’ or ‘game larders’ should apply for the small business support grant, also available via local authority websites.
For advice on specific business support in Scotland visit here.
Coronavirus - Gundogs
I am due a litter of puppies that will require the vets to dock their tails and to remove their dew claws. Will my vets still be able to do this?
As vets are the only qualified professionals allowed to carry this out, you would need to speak to them to see if they will allow the appointment to go ahead.
Phoning the vets with as much notice as possible will enable you to plan how to deal with this in the current circumstances.
Ultimately this has to be a personal decision based upon your own specific circumstances. But, there are several specific areas to consider before breeding at this time.
Is there someone that can help you if you fall ill?
Can you keep puppies longer than expected if there are government restrictions which prevent new owners from collecting them?
Will your vet be able to assist if there are any issues?
Can you correctly socialise the puppies?
No. At present the advice is that you are not permitted to travel to collect a puppy under the current restrictions.
advice for people with animals.
This advice sets out a clear marker for police forces to follow clarifying some of the confusion that has been evident in the last week or so.
BASC’s interpretation of the newly issued government guidance is that deer stalking can be undertaken in England from Wednesday.