Some excellent news in the efforts to tackle the War On Wildlife – the University of Reading has “decided to end organised game shooting on its land“. Shooting has been taking place at Hall Farm, which is owned by the university and is around five miles from the main campus. A spokesperson quoted in the press release says that “this decision was taken based on what is the most appropriate use of University land, based on our values…”
It will perhaps come as a surprise that a University was leasing out land to groups that shoot birds in the first place (even some students didn’t know according to a BBC News article which quoted a Reading University student saying “We had no clue it was happening – it was quite a big shock to find out what our university was doing” ) but the news that this will end is extremely welcome.
What difference will it make?
While the university claims that the number of birds shot are ‘limited’ (which makes little difference to the birds that are killed of course), this is a matter of principle and ethical values. Polls repeatedly show that the majority of people are against organised ‘game shooting’. And it’s not just about what happens on the day of a shoot of course: there is always accompanying predator ‘control’ and the university admits to killing foxes if they ‘attack the birds’.
It’s worth noting that earlier this year the University of Wales also banned pheasant shooting on its land in response to criticism. Both campaigns were led by the League Against Cruel Sports, and both involved email and social media campaigns.
Positive change in favour of wildlife can take what seems an age to achieve, but both cases prove targeted protest does work.
Release Date 13 November 2019
The University of Reading has decided to end organised game shooting on its land, following the conclusion of an internal review.
The University Executive Board decided at its meeting yesterday (11 November) to endorse the findings of a review group set up to examine the case for continuing or ending an existing licence allowing game shooting, after earlier discussions with internal and external groups.
This means the University will no longer allow its land to be used to raise game birds for shooting, such as pheasants or partridges, once an existing agreement with an external group that uses University farmland comes to an end in February 2020.
The review group was chaired by Professor Mark Fellowes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning & Resource, and included expert panel members from the University’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and School of Biological Sciences.
The group considered evidence that included submissions from groups in favour or against the practice of game shooting, as well as comments from students, staff and members of the public. They also considered the legal and financial implications of either maintaining or ending existing arrangements, as well as consistency with the University’s new strategy, which is currently under development.
A University of Reading spokesperson said: “The University of Reading is known in the region and around the world as a leading centre for the study of agriculture, food and the environment. While there are many arguments for and against game shooting, this decision was taken based on what is the most appropriate use of University land, based on our values and plans for the future.
“We are committed to maintaining close links with outside groups and the local community across all our operations, including on our farms.
“We are grateful to all those who engaged with us positively throughout this review process.”