Disturbing images have emerged of two dozen dead pheasants casually discarded in black bin bags at a North Wales woodland.
Welfare campaigner Judi Hewitt said the discovery, near Tremeirchion, Denbighshire, was “yet more proof” of the disregard for bird life shown by many pheasant shoots.
She released the pictures as Wales’ environmental watchdog confirmed it is investigating a similar incident near Machynlleth, Powys.
Video footage obtained by Wales Online and taken at the Dyfi Falls beauty spot shows a man tossing armfuls of dead game birds into a fenced-off mineshaft.
Ms Hewitt claimed the latest images from Denbighshire show that game birds are being reared in large numbers not for food but purely for sport.
North Wales Police said the incident was a matter for Denbighshire Council.
She added: “The fact these birds were dumped is yet more proof that pheasant shooting is just killing for fun, using pheasants as living targets,” she said.
“The release of countless factory-farmed pheasants into the countryside for sport is not only morally wrong, it’s bad for the environment.”
It appears to show a man dumping at least 45 dead pheasants and partridges into the opening, with more loaded up on a quad bike ready for disposal.
The footage was obtained by investigators from the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), an animal welfare charity which campaigns to end commercial game shooting.
They set up the camera to obtain evidence after claiming to have seen a similar incident earlier this month.
LACS fears the dead pheasants and partridges dumped at Dyfi Falls could contaminate water flowing into the nearby River Llyfnant.
The mineshaft is also located next to the Pencreigiau’r Llan Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
LACS has passed the footage to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which said it is investigating the claims.
NRW banned all pheasant shooting on its own woodland and nature reserves in 2019.
Chris Luffingham, LACS’ director of campaigns, claimed: “The film shows bird after bird being casually tossed into the cavern, next to one of Wales’ most sensitive and protected pieces of land.”
He went on to describe it as a “scandalous incident”.
According to Defra, some 61 million pheasants and partridges are released into the British countryside every year.
Studies by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust suggest a quarter of released pheasants die before the shooting season starts – mainly killed by foxes.
About one in six (16%) survive the shooting season and just over one in three (37.5%) are actually shot.
Judy Hewitt, from Rhyl is currently marking the 30th anniversary of North Wales Animal Rights, the welfare group she established in 1991.
She said: “Releasing countless birds into the environment, to compete with our dwindling indigenous wildlife, is a modern-day catastrophe.
“I did initially alert the police but they said it was a fly-tipping issue, not a police issue.
“However it was a very upsetting issue for me!”
North Wales Police (NWP) said that responsibility for waste crimes, which can affect waterways, lies mainly with NRW or local councils, who may ask the police for support.
A spokesperson for the NWP rural crime team said: “With regard to this specific incident, it was brought to our attention on social media and we advised that it should be reported to the relevant local authority.
“To date, we have not been contacted by Denbighshire County Council in relation to this matter.”
Shooting estate responds to bird dumping video
The Dyfi Falls shooting estate, in Cwm Rhaeadr, is managed by Cheltenham-based Cambrian Birds Ltd.
In a statement, Cambrian Birds said the man pictured in the video no longer works for the company.
A spokesperson said: “All game shot on the shooting estates run by Cambrian Birds Ltd is processed through a certified game dealer, which then goes on for human consumption.
“Cambrian Birds allow their keepers to retain a certain number of birds for their personal consumption.
“We understand that in this instance the individual in question stripped the meat off the birds and thereafter disposed of the carcasses by throwing them into a disused mineshaft.
“Such a practice is contrary to the company rules and procedures.
“The individual in question was severely reprimanded and no longer works for the company.”
This article by Andrew Forgrave was first published by The Daily Post on 31 January 2022. Lead Image: Carcases of dead pheasants litter the undergrowth in woodland near Tremeirchion.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.