I would like to start by reassuring you that I too share your concerns for the animal population. As a loving owner of a cocker spaniel, I agree that causing significant harm to game birds is totally wrong.
However, those involved in shooting carry out £250 million in conservation work annually which is incredibly important for our island.
I would like to reassure you that Ministers remain committed to maintaining our position as world leaders in animal welfare and want to improve and build upon that record, working in partnership with farmers to support healthier, higher welfare animals. They are exploring options with all the industry sectors, including the game bird industry, to see how welfare standards can be further enhanced and in a way that is sustainable.
I am aware that the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust carries out research around biodiversity issues and provides recommendations for sustainable releasing and the management of habitat to benefit wildlife.
Finally, I believe it is important to protect wildlife across the country and I am pleased that the Government is committed to being the UK’s greenest ever. In the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Government committed to developing a Nature Recovery Network – an expanding and increasingly connected network of places for wildlife – and, in the long term, to create or restore 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside the protected site series.