Campaigners say they kept watch for weeks before barricading a farm track and shooing thousands of birds into nearby fields
According to the activists they released 5,000 partridges destined to be shot within weeks and shooed them into nearby wheat fields.
Activists claim they built a barricade so the gamekeeper could not come out in their vehicle if they heard the birds escaping.
“After weeks of surveillance of the rearing sheds, we waited until two weeks before the start of the killing season to release them.
“This was both to ensure that the birds were old enough to survive and to cause maximum economic damage. Our aim is to close this shoot down for good.”
hey said they built a barricade on the track and then cut zip ties that held the fence panels together and the plastic netted roof.
“We then opened each pen in turn by before herding the thousands of captives into the surrounding maize and wheat fields,” said the statement.
“We will dismantle this industry pen by pen, shoot by shoot. Until all birds fly free.”
PC Ash Weller said Gloucestershire Constabulary’s Rural Crime Team treat incidents of this kind seriously as they cause financial impact and lead to the death of birds.
“This recent act of sabotage has caused the death of hundreds of game birds, as well as the loss of many other birds which have escaped from their enclosures,” said the rural crime officer.
“I have put extra security measures in place after visiting the site and will be working closely with the farm owners to ensure that we can help to prevent any future attacks of this kind.
“My team will aim to achieve this by conducting extra patrols during the times when attacks are most likely to happen and will utilise night vision and thermal imaging equipment.”
Many shoots just rely on clay pigeons but there are several shoots in the county which rely on game and these are increasingly coming under the spotlight of animal activists who say releasing the birds gives them more chance to escape than if they are being shot at.
Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at League Against Cruel Sports, says there has been a rapid expansion of commercial ‘game’ bird shooting across the UK and 27 million birds have been imported from abroad ’since May 2018 to feed the growing demand.
“Whether the birds are imported live or as ready-to-hatch eggs, the end result remains the same: millions of partridges and pheasants shot out of the sky for entertainment, with many being thrown in incinerators, buried in pits or fly-tipped by the roadside,” he said.
Gloucestershire Live has also contacted The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, which is urging members to contribute to the 12 week public survey launched by environment secretary Theresa Villiers as part of a planned review of general licences to manage wild birds in England.
Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said: “These animal rights groups and individuals are not activists, they are criminals and should be treated as such.
“Their criminal actions impact livelihoods and jobs of hard working families and their actions actually put the welfare of these birds at risk. Anyone who sees any suspicious activity should report it to the police.”