RSPCA Cymru has welcomed a letter from the Minister for Environment, Hannah Blythyn AM, to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in response to a review on the use of firearms on land it manages.

The review, which included 36 submissions with over 220 pieces of qualifying evidence, included a consultation response from RSPCA Cymru. In its consultation response, the animal welfare charity recommended that there must be “strong scientific evidence” for the taking and killing of wild animals in each instance.

In the Minister’s letter, Ms Blythyn agreed with the first two recommendations following the review which related to the use of firearms for managing wild species. She however raised her concerns regarding the shooting of conservation species, and asked “NRW ornithologists to investigate the impact of wildfowling on rarer bird species”.

The Minister also highlighted that “the Welsh Government does not support commercial pheasant shooting, or the breeding of gamebirds or the birds being held in holding pens on the estate prior to release on the Welsh Government Estate” and asked NRW to consider not renewing the pheasant shooting lease agreements as they expire.

RSPCA’s assistant director of external relations, Claire Lawson, said: “We support any position that prevents the shooting for recreation/sport and welcome the Minister’s letter to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) that stated the Welsh Government’s position on commercial pheasant shooting.

“We believe that any decisions made to take action against a wild animal, for whatever reason, must be subject to a clear and transparent process, so that the public may see what action is being taken and the justification for it.

“We’re not against the killing or taking of wild animals when necessary but there must be strong scientific evidence that there is a legitimate case for the taking and killing of wild animals in each instance.

“We accept that NRW should retain the use of firearms as an option, but that it should produce and publish evidence that other methods of managing the problem have been attempted and demonstrated to have failed.

“We agree with recommendations of the need for long-term management plans and we believe that any process for controlling wild animals should have a proper plan with clear objectives, but we feel that each plan needs to be site specific and could include non-lethal methods where appropriate.

“Furthermore, any benefits achieved through the removal of wild animals needs to be maintained and how this can be achieved should be part of the management plans.”

To view RSPCA Cymru’s consultation response, please visit: https://goo.gl/6gHhqz