Letter: Before the hunt

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In his letter "Bird in the hand" (29 July) Kenneth Elliot asserts that pheasants are "cooped up in cages all their lives". This is far from the truth, as those who know and understand the ways of the countryside will testify.

Pheasants are reared, and will spend the first seven weeks of their lives in captivity being cared for by game farmers or gamekeepers.

In June or July they are transferred to release pens and are free, when able, to fly out and become acclimatised to their new surroundings.

This progressive release ensures that the birds are naturalised and free-flying months before the start of the shooting season in October, but in reality most pheasant shoots start in November.

Furthermore, to state that they are then "blasted from the skies" is also far from the truth. On average, only about 40 per cent of the released pheasants are shot in the following open season.

Others meet a variety of fates, including predation by foxes and birds of prey, as well as surviving to augment the wild-breeding population.

For every bird in the hand there could well be two in the bush!

Nicolle Hamilton

British Association for Shooting & Conservation Scotland