Berkshire

Reading University urged to stop pheasant shooting on grounds

A pheasant Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A charity has called for an end to pheasant shooting on University of Reading grounds

An animal welfare charity has called on the University of Reading to end pheasant shooting on its grounds.

The university leases its land at Hall Farm in Aborfield, Berkshire, for game bird shooting.

The League Against Cruel Sports (Lacs) said students would be "shocked to hear this is happening at their university".

A university spokesman said it welcomed discussion on the issue and it was currently reviewing its agreement, which is due to expire in February.

Lacs said it had written to the university calling for it to end the practice when when the game bird shooting lease expired.

Nick Weston, head of campaigns for the charity, said: "Large numbers of factory-farmed pheasants have been released on the University of Reading's land purely to be shot for 'sport' when the shooting season opens in a fortnight.

"Students and alumni will be shocked to hear this is happening at their university and no doubt consternation will grow if the university doesn't act quickly to end it."

Image caption Lacs said students would be shocked to hear pheasants are shot at the farm

A Reading University Vegetarian and Vegan Society spokeswoman said: "We had no clue it was happening - it was quite a big shock to find out what our university was doing.

"We encourage the university to end the shooting."

Reading University Bird Society member and student Marcia Webberley said: "In general shooting is not an issue and is important for conservation, but the problem is the rearing of game birds to be released as a lot get away and the countryside population increases.

"Also they don't give them a fair chance because they're lured back to the shooting area with food, so their only purpose in life is to be shot."

The league pointed to a YouGov poll last year that found 69% of people in Great Britain wanted game bird shooting made illegal.

The charity claimed during shoots birds fell to the ground suffering painful injuries, and native predators were killed to ensure game birds survive.

Hall Farm is used for teaching and research in animals.

Image caption The university said it was reviewing its agreement to lease its lands for bird shooting

The University of Reading said the game bird shooting on its land was on a small scale and Lacs's comments were not an accurate reflection.

A spokesman said: "We allow some shooting to take place on our farms as part of the day-to-day management and use of our agricultural land.

"We have an agreement with an external group which keeps birds in some of our woodland and organises shoots. We are currently reviewing this agreement which expires in February."

Earlier this year the University of Wales stopped pheasant shooting at its farm in Powys.

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