Is it right to kill our wildlife?

I would like to say how I can understand how Mrs Whitcomb feels regarding shooting parties. I too had a terrible incident involving a few fools shooting anything that moved. About six months ago I was out walking with my black Labrador across the footpath

I would like to say how I can understand how Mrs Whitcomb feels regarding shooting parties.

I too had a terrible incident involving a few fools shooting anything that moved. About six months ago I was out walking with my black Labrador across the footpaths around the St Paul's Walden area.

My dog which was way up front, was running on the footpath when two loud bangs made me jump out of my skin and freeze with fear. Then to my horror my dog just fell over, and in the distance two men started walking away until I shouted at them.

They then came over and said how they had mistaken her for a fox, and offered to lift her to the roadside for me, I later found out this was done because they had no right to be shooting on public property. So yes I agree these people that go out shooting seem to be at best, very short sighted, and let's face it, there's no great skill in shooting a lumbering slow low flying pheasant out of the sky - that is pathetic.


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Mrs JUNE SNELL, The Moat House, Pirton

* From an old countryman, the pheasant shoot that A Collins witnessed did give rise to criticism for had this occurred on a shoot which I captained, shooting a seagull would have meant being requested to leave the field. I hope pheasant shoots will not be judged by this flagrant breach of our normal behaviour.

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This is, however, a different view which needs consideration. For one thing when viewing our lovely wooded landscape, please consider that the majority of woods and spinneys were planted and set out for hunting and shooting. They have been maintained with that in mind. The keeper feeds and waters his pheasants which run free to roam at will from July. This feed also helps feed legions of wild birds during the winter and supplies water during the drought.

The keeper controls predation by magpies, grey squirrels, etc, to a reasonable level. If grey squirrel numbers become too high, they will clear every songbird egg in the wood, besides other damage. I monitored magpie damage in my garden over four years, the last year I had 14 nests and magpies cleared them all. I then made sure that we had no magpies over the next three years and we hardly lost a clutch - even the RSPB conceded the damage that they do.

We do not expect someone who leads a suburban life to understand our ways, but pheasants are a crop to be gathered. Not kept in sheds, but roaming free. Our keeper prepares all shot birds for the pot, it is shrink wrapped ready for the oven. Straight from roaming wild, it makes a delicious, nutritious meal. Compare it with the turkey's life, so much in the news, and make a point of purchasing a brace and enjoy it as I and my family have done today!

D E PATEMAN, JP, Langley, Nr Hitchin

* I respond to Mrs C. Whitcomb's letter which appeared in The Comet on the February 15 regarding pheasant shooting. One of the reasons why she is able to enjoy what she describes as the beautiful Wash is because of all the conservation work carried out by the shooting community. Also on The Wash, the wildfowling clubs help to warden the National Nature Reserve.

Shooting provides important economic and environmental benefits to the countryside and the recent economic and environmental study on shooting shows shooters are involved in the management of two thirds of the rural land area of which two million hectares are actively managed for conservation. It also shows that shooters spend nearly three million working days on conservation, the equivalent of 12,000 full time jobs.

If there is no skill in shooting, then I challenge her to come and show us all how it is done and I think she would find she is very much mistaken in her belief.

If Mrs Whitcomb wishes to continue to enjoy the beautiful countryside around The Wash then she needs to appreciate all the work that has made it what it is, including that carried out by the shooting community.

WILLIAM HEAL, Eastern Regional Director, The British Association for Shooting & Conservation, Kings Forest Office, Bury St Edmunds

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