The Welsh government says it no longer supports shooting sports, which casts doubt on the future of huge swathes of the Welsh countryside. Shooting organisations including the National Gamekeepers Organisation are seeking urgent meetings with Welsh ministers in order to find out if this is ignorance or simply political posturing. The NGO’s Tim Weston explains what they are trying to do to news editor Ben O’Rourke.
The Welsh government has done something rarely seen in politics: it is sticking to its manifesto. That’s bad news for shooters, as the particular issue is shooting, which it made clear, in writing, it doesn’t like.
“I understand the control of certain pest species is sometimes necessary,” wrote climate change minister Julie James, “but just to be clear, the Welsh Government do not support the shooting of live quarry as a leisure activity.”
The National Gamekeepers Organisation is disappointed with the message, which was part of a letter sent to the Aim to Sustain group of fieldsports organisations.
“Any minister that puts in black and white that they don’t support recreational shooting in a whole country needs to be taken seriously,” says Tim Weston,
The NGO is calling on all shooters in Wales to write to the minister and complain about the government’s stance. It is unclear, though, whether the Welsh government plans to take action more than announce their opposition to sport shooting.
A ban on shooting, Tim says, would be devastating.
Gamekeepers and their families will be forced to leave the country if they want to continue their careers. Millions of pounds will vanish from rural communities that rely on shoots for their livelihoods, including hotels, restaurants and shops.
Not only that, but rare species that live on grouse moors, such as curlews and lapwings, will be under threat if the land is not managed for shooting.
“It’s around £72 million per annum going into rural Wales,” says Tim, quoting an approximate figure from a couple of years ago. “That’s coming into rural Wales at the time of year when rural Wales needs it. It’s not going in in mid-summer, when there are caravans flying up and down to the coast.It’s going in in mid-winter… when it’s pouring with rain and there’s mist everywhere.
“That £72 million is still coming in and keeping many of these small businesses open.”
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