Shoots around the country have debating how many birds to put down, how many days to offer and whether to shoot at all. Some shooters have suggested that the game season would effectively be cancelled in 2020-21.
Game farmers first expressed concern over the situation as shoots would typically be placing their orders for the season throughout April. The Game Farmers’ Association said: “The day after the UK lockdown game shoots were thinking hard but calmly about the implications for the 2020-2021 season. Game farms had experienced some cancelled or reduced orders but most will carry on with rearing pheasants and partridges this year.
However, the importance of deposits to shoots was emphasised by BASC. Chief executive Ian Bell, who said: “The financial outlay of hatching, rearing and buying in chicks and poults is typically offset by deposits paid by Guns booking their shooting for the season ahead.
“We would encourage people, where their circumstances permit, to go ahead and make bookings for the 2020-2021 shooting season.”
Most deerstalking operations have also been suspended. Forest Enterprise, Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage have all halted deer management.
The British Deer Society advised its members that “recreational stalking, and its associated travel implications are not essential and should not take place at the moment. Professional stalkers should seek the advice of their employers, line managers or landowners.”
“Pest shooters also faced a dilemma, with a high proportion of cereals being sown in spring rather than winter this year and lambing in full swing. The lockdown comes at the point when farmers most need their support.
“BASC advised that pest control “must only be undertaken where absolutely necessary and in line with the latest general Government advice on coronavirus”.