Thousands of pheasants freed as activists strike
PUBLISHED: 17:19 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:22 23 April 2019
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Animal rights activists released thousands of pheasants from their pens in a night-time raid on a farm at Mildenhall.
The Animal Liberation Front claimed it released as many as 9,000 pheasants after it struck at Heath Hatcheries in Brandon Road as part of its campaign to drive the game shooting industry out of business.
It posted a video of what it said was the birds being freed last Friday night on the Facebook page of the badger protection group Stop The Cull.
An accompanying statement said: “Heath Hatcheries in Suffolk was visited by us over the Easter Bank Holiday.
“A clear path was made so that the birds headed towards the forest and away from the road, grain was put down to attract them in that direction.
“Once inside the farm we went straight to the battery cages which were inside a fenced off area, we could hear partridges but we could also see an expensive sensor based security system, we had to leave these partridges as we did not have the equipment with us to disable the alarm system.
“We surveyed the 45 breeding pens for pheasants, then removed a panel from each one of these pens, herded the pheasants out into the corridor then further on and out of the farm directly into a wooded area, each pen contained around 200 birds, making the total around 9,000.
“Shoots put in orders to game farms well in advance each year before the shooting season begins, with game farms being targeted across the country many shoots may well go out of business this year.
“We will continue to dismantle the shooting industry, farm by farm, shoot by shoot, until the end.”
The owners of Heath Hatcheries have been contacted for comment.
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said the raid took place between 9pm on Good Friday and 7am on Easter Saturday and appealed for anyone with information to contact them.
They said: “Unknown persons entered a rearing field from the A1065 side of Brandon Road in Mildenhall by cutting some fencing.
“They have then proceeded to cut internal fencing, netting and water pipe allowing thousands of breeding stock pheasants to escape.”
Activists have been targeting the shooting industry in recent weeks - around 5,000 pheasants were released in raids in Cornwall and Wiltshire last month.
The Suffolk attack was condemned by the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) which has more than 150,000 members and is Britain's largest country sports organisation.
It says shooting is worth more than £2 billion a year to the UK economy.
BASC chairman Peter Glenser QC said: “We have seen an increased attempt by animal rights extremists to target lawful and legitimate rural businesses in recent weeks which strikes at the very heart of our civilised, law-abiding society.
“Extremist organisations absolutely must be brought to task when they overstep the bounds of lawfulness and decency.”
Anyone with information of the incident is asked to contact Suffolk Constabulary on 101, quoting crime reference 37/22245/19, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their anonymous online form.