For Bodfuan Shoot, Game Shooting is about shooting and conservation working side by side. It often concerns us how little the public know about shooting and the logistics of a shoot.

 

In our opinion the majority of people stopped in a town or city would say they love to see pheasants and wild birds when visiting the countryside. Some would say it’s cruel to shoot them. In our opinion very few people understand that if it wasn’t for pheasant shooting and shoots stocking pheasants very few would be seen in the UK. Pheasants, not being UK originated birds, can in the majority of cases, only survive with the help of a game keeper. Pheasants are fed wheat on a daily basis either by a game keeperor from an automatic feeder. We estimate that only 50% of the feed is eaten by our pheasants and the rest eaten by wild birds and mice etc. Just take a few minutes to think about the food chains all starting with wheat which the game keeper has fed the pheasants especially during a cold winter like 2009/10 when there was not much food on the ground for wild birds.

Wheat > Game > Human
Wheat > Game > Fox/Wild Cats/Other Predators
Wheat > Mice > Birds of prey
Wheat > Song Birds/Wild Birds

Our conservation and countryside management at Bodfuan Shoot is a big part of our work. Everything we shoot at Bodfuan gets eaten. Only 25-50% of the pheasants we put down each year get shot, the others live to see another day and for you to see in the countryside. Please remember if you want to continue to see pheasants and wild birds in the countryside, keep Britain Game Shooting.

A new study investigates the amount of winter food needed to boost declining birds.

With the prospect of freezing winter conditions ahead of us The Game Conservancy Trust is urging farmers and landowners to keep feeding game and farmland birds during late winter and early spring as this is the time when many declining bird species struggle for survival due to a lack of food.

In a recent four-year study the Trust has identified that early spring feeding consistently led to higher densities of breeding pheasants and nearly twice as many young were produced when birds were regularly fed from a network of wheat-filled feed hoppers through to mid-May. As well as game, many other declining bird species such as yellowhammers and corn buntings are thought to benefit from this winter feeding regime.

Many of our once-familiar farmland birds, such as the tree sparrow, grey partridge and corn bunting have all undergone more than 80% declines in the last forty years and most conservationists suspect that the cause of these declines for these and other seed-eating birds is the loss of suitable food over the winter-time, resulting in fewer birds surviving.

To test this theory, The Game Conservancy Trust and RSPB Scotland have embarked on an ambitious four-year study, which aims to identify the reasons for these serious declines in bird populations and to explore just how important winter food supplies are to several species of farmland birds in Scotland. When completed, the project will help to provide national guidelines on winter feeding, as well as showing the specific feeding regimes that are suited to a variety of farmland bird species.

Dr Dave Parish from The Game Conservancy Trust, who is running the project said, “This study is a massive undertaking, which will involve monitoring bird numbers on more than 32 farms across eastern Scotland. This summer we assessed the number of birds present on all our study sites before any changes are introduced and this has revealed a total of 80 species, ranging from the more common birds such as crows and pigeons, to some real scarcities like quail and crossbill.”

Within the study area some of the farms involved will provide extra food over-winter, either as crops that are left for the birds to eat or as heaps of grain, whilst the remainder will remain unchanged. Dave Parish explains, “After we have monitored bird numbers on all the farms over the coming years we will be able to tell whether those with extra food have done better than those without and most importantly, whether they have maintained or increased their bird populations.

The fact that so many species have been seen on the study sites also means that the effect of the winter food can be investigated on a variety of birds all at once. This is extremely important because the recent changes in farming subsidies now mean that farmers will be paid for sowing a variety of seed-bearing crops that are not harvested but left for the birds to eat. Dr Jerry Wilson of RSPB Scotland, who is also working on the project said, “This study will confirm whether these new farming prescriptions actually work and will hopefully show the best ways of increasing the benefits to birds. More fundamentally, this study will provide the best evidence yet as to whether winter food availability is crucial to the survival of these seed eating birds.” https://gwct.org.uk/default.asp

The Barn Owl is a stunningly beautiful bird with golden/buff coloured upper parts laced with silver grey and white under-parts. It has a distinctive white heart shaped face and when seen in flight the overall impression is of a large white bird. The flight is buoyant and wonderfully graceful. The wings (spanning 85cm) are much bigger than the body. A Barn Owl is fully grown from only ten weeks old. It stands 25cm tall (from head to feet) and is 33-35cm from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. Barn Owls shriek and hiss, they don’t hoot (that’s the Tawny Owl).

Barn Owls hunt mainly from the air (rather than from a perch) and have some amazing adaptations enabling them to find and catch small mammals hidden in deep vegetation in the dark. They don’t generally venture into dense woodland but will forage over any open habitat that supports a population of small mammals. Barn Owls may roost or nest in any structure or tree that meets their requirements.

There are many resident Barn Owls at Bodfuan, which are regularly sighted by our keepers when they are working late on the shoot. We maintain habitats that are perfect hunting and nesting sites for this magnificent bird – another demonstration of how the industry of Game Shooting benefits wildlife in Britain. It is also likely that our pheasant feed helps boost populations of small mammals on which they prey.

Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera. The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums and colugos, glide rather than fly, and can only glide for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane.

There are about 1,240 bat species worldwide, which represent about twenty per cent of all classified mammal species. About seventy percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are fruit eaters. A few species such as the Fish-eating Bat feed from animals other than insects, with the vampire bats being the only mammalian parasite species. Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinatingflowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.

Bat echolocation is a perceptual system where ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes the brain and auditory nervous system can produce detailed images of the bat’s surroundings. This allows bats to detect, localize and even classify their prey in complete darkness. At 130 decibels in intensity, bat calls are some of the most intense airborne animal sounds.

In the United Kingdom all bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Acts, and even disturbing a bat or its roost can be punished with a heavy fine.

Over coming months we will be working in conjunction with Gwynedd Bat Group to help protect and boost the bat population here at Bodfuan. Together we will be improving habitats and creating and mounting purpose-built bat-boxes across the shoot. Gwynedd Bat Group are also helping us to identify the specific species of bats present at the shoot to enable us to plan for their conservation in the future.

A large section of the Bodfuan Shoot Marsh is SSSI land and the GorsGeirch nature reserve. Bodfuan Shoot Ltd aim to have a strong working relationship with the CCW (Countryside Council for Wales) to ensure good management of this area.

With this in mind Bodfuan shoot are taking the following measures on the site. Bodfuan Shoot have a voluntary ban on lead shot and recommend the use of Non Toxic Shot on all SSSI Land. This protects the land from contamination with lead which can have a negative impact on the environment. The use of vehicles will be kept to a minimum on SSSI Land, again to safeguard wildlife. Fox and Mink will be kept under control where possible to ensure the survival of Water Voles.

Bodfuan Shoot fully support the CCW’s Llyn Fens Project, which is a project to restore the Llyn Fens.We are glad to be part of the conservation of these important and beautiful landscapes.

 

The mink is an introduced species. It was brought to Britain from North America in the late 1920’s to be bred for the fur trade. Since escaping it has established itself successfully in the wild.

Mink have a reputation for being blood thirsty, and are known to kill other animals even when they are not hungry. Mink are strongly territorial, and a male will not allow another male on its patch, although females are occasionally tolerated.

The mink mating season starts around February. The actual gestation period is 39 days, although it can be much longer due to delayed implantation.

A female can have five or six young, known as kittens. The male takes no part in rearing the young. The kittens remain with the mother until the autumn when they are fully grown. They then go off to find territories of their own.

Bodfuan shoot along with other shoots and angling clubs are working alongside BASC in order to control the mink population all over the Llyn Peninsula.Bodfuan has recently hosted a training course presided over by BASC’s North Wales Biodiversity Officer during which ourselves and other land managers were instructed on how to humanely trap and dispatch mink using traps known as mink rafts. By controlling numbers of mink we hope to increase the population of the severely threatened water vole upon which the mink prey.

Red Kites are one of our biggest birds of prey and despite being persecuted and hunted since the 16th Century they are making a remarkable comeback. It is believed that at the end of the 18th Century the Red Kites were down to just a few breeding pairs hidden away in the rural Mid Wales mountains and the local population soon realised it was down to them to protect this magnificent bird of prey.

Red Kites are distinctive because of their forked tail. Their colour is predominantly chestnut red with white patches under the wings and a pale grey head. They have a wingspan of nearly two metres (about five-and-a-half-feet), but a relatively small body weight of 2 – 3 lbs. This means the bird is incredibly agile, and can stay in the air for many hours with hardly a beat of its wings. Red Kites are neither particularly strong nor aggressive despite being large birds and are primarily a scavenger and an opportunist. Red Kites are however predators and can take a wide variety of live prey, ranging from earthworms to small mammals, amphibians and birds.

Red Kites usually breed for the first time at 2 or 3 years old. They usually pair for life, although this is thought to be more because of a mutual attachment to the same territory and nest sites rather than any great attachment to each other.

Bodfuan shoot are proud to have a pair of Kites on our shoot and we will do all we can to protect them.

The grey squirrel was deliberately introduced to Wales and other parts of the UK during the 19th Century. Since then, despite being released merely as a curiosity to satisfy the Victorian penchant for novelty, the adaptable and hardy grey squirrel has thrived in Wales’ parks, gardens and woodlands. Indeed, it has now become so widespread, that it is accepted by many as a natural part of our wildlife in Wales.

It is now clear that the Grey Squirrel’s continued population throughout North Wales is having a major impact on the native flora and fauna, which are poorly adapted to withstand the presence of the Grey Squirrel. Most significantly, the grey squirrel is the main suspect with regards to the decline of the native red squirrel, but they are also responsible for causing significant damage to woodland.

The grey squirrel is having such a profound impact on Welsh wildlife, several conservation groups are calling for radical steps to be taken to prevent irreversible damage being done. The grey squirrel is able to dominate the red in almost every phase of their life and some people believe the grey squirrel is more resistant to disease than the red. When comparing the two, the red squirrel has seen its living area squeezed into those areas as yet unoccupied by the grey. The few remaining strongholds of the red squirrel in Wales only exist because they are conifer woodland habitats, where the grey squirrel does not so easily out-compete the red, or because the grey squirrel has been actively prevented from establishing populations in those areas.

It is the intention of Bodfuan Shoot’s conservation team to decrease the number of grey squirrels by September 2012 and then start a reintroduction program of the Red Squirrel. Bodfuan Shoot is much populated by Spruce; a tree that stays green and in leaf all year round and much suits the needs of the Red Squirrel. Bodfuan Shoot currently catches and humanely despatches approximately 20 grey squirrels per week.

With their small ears buried in fur, their blunt faces and short tails, water voles look quite different from mice, which have pointy faces, big ears and long tails

The water vole is much larger than its cousins, the bank vole and field vole, and can sometimes approach half a kilo in weight. It burrows into the banks of rivers and streams, eating grasses, rushes, sedges and aquatic vegetation. Often it consumes the equivalent of three quarters of its own bodyweight daily. Although individuals defend their stretch of riverbank during the breeding season, they are sociable animals, dropping antagonisms and sharing nests in winter. In fact numbers can build up to high levels in summer.

However in Wales as elsewhere in Britain, their distribution has shrunk in recent years, giving them the unenviable title of fastest declining mammal and making this elusive and delightful creature a priority for conservation action. Bodfuan Shoot is taking part in a program with BASC & CCW to trap and humanely dispatch the water Vole’s main predator, the Mink which is not a natural inhabitant of the UK.

 

 

 

Shooting – General

Shootings worth to the UK economy

  • Shooters spend £2.5 billion each year on goods and servicesShooting supports the equivalent of 74,000 full time jobs
  • Shooting is worth £2 billion to the UK economy (GVA)
  • Shooting is involved in the management of two-thirds of the rural land area
  • There are 4 million (est) airgun owners – of which 1.6 m shoot live quarry
    600,000 people in the UK shoot live quarry, clay pigeons or targets
  • Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation
  • Shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation – that’s the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs
  • Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting

For more information http://www.shootingfacts.co.uk/pdf/The-Value-of-Shooting-2014.pdf

Shooting – Who works on shoots?

  • Rural England employs over 54m people Of these, over 10% are directly employed in shooting supported jobs
  • 15,000 Beaters and Loaders
  • 16,000 Game keepers, shoot managers and others
  • 16,000 Supplier jobs (such as clothing retailers) 930 Jobs supported in downstream industries
  • 22,000 Supply chain jobs supported (includes expenditure multiplier effects)
  • It is estimated that 620,000 people are involved in the provision of sporting shooting in the UK. That is the equivalent of 49,000 full time jobs, or 1/5 of the total agricultural workforce

Shooting and Conservation

  • Shoot providers spend £250m a year on conservation – which is 5 times the annual income of Britain’s biggest wildlife conservation organisation, the RSPB
  • An estimated 26 million work days are undertaken each year on habitat and wildlife management for shooting in the UK
  • Typically, a shoot provider will provide 16 days shooting, whilst undertaking an average of 155 days of wildlife and habitat management each year
  • People who regularly use the countryside, but do not shoot, see the conservation that shoots undertake as a positive Among these, 57% cited woodland as the most positive benefit of shooting
  • If shooting were stopped, it would severely damage the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity
  • In preserving and enhancing the natural habitat for wildlife, shooting is necessarily sustaining the natural beauty of the countryside – thus benefiting all
  • £77 million is invested annually in ensuring highways leading to shoots are maintained, making the countryside more accessible for all
  • Two million hectares are actively managed for conservation as a result of shooting – this is an area size of Wales
  • Shooters spend 27million work days on conservation – the equivalent of 12,000 full time jobs

Shooting and tourism

  • Shooting directly supports 5,700 jobs in the food and accommodation sector
  • Shooting indirectly supports 1,700 jobs in the travel sector
  • It is estimated that an average 222 visitor nights (ie. people that are there because of the shoot, but not participating in it) were generated in 2004 by each shooting provider
  • Shooting helps to sustain rural communities during the winter when income from other forms of tourism is substantially reduced, and can make the difference between profit and loss for some rural services
  • £60m is spent on accommodation
  • £58m is spent on offsite food

Rural Areas – key facts and figures

  • In the last 20 years the proportion of young people aged between 15-29 living in rural areas has fallen from 21% to 15%
  • The median age for rural areas is 444, compared to 385 for urban areas
  • In 2007 32% of all rural households had a household income less than £16,500 per annum
  • The average price of a house in a rural area in 2007 was 21% higher than in an urban area – and would require a low income household to borrow over 15 times their yearly income in order to purchase their home
  • Around 50% of rural households do not have access to a bus stop within a 13 minute walk of their home
  • Employment rates are 78% in rural areas compared to 74% for urban areas

Game as Food – key facts and figures

  • Game sales are up 64% since 2002
  • The Countryside Alliance’s ‘Game to Eat’ Campaign began in ’02
  • Retail sales of Game are expected to rise 8% in 2008
  • The Game to Eat Market is work £69m
  • In five years the market has nearly doubled
  • The re-emergence of game in the food calendar is led by venison, which has three fifths of the market share and is in constant demand, followed by pheasant and partridge, the major-players in the game bird sector
  • Venison sales have increased by 25% to a projected £40m and feathered game by 188% to be worth projected £19m in 2008
  • Between 2003 and 2007 sales through farm shops, farmer’s markets and online purchase went up 60% while supermarkets’ value has increased by a staggering 150%