SOME 35 million intensively-reared pheasants are released in the late autumn every year so that they can serve as feathered targets for 'guns' paying £1,000 or more per day for the pleasure.
Animal Aid has long contended - based on the best available evidence - that a large percentage of the shot birds are not eaten. The shooting press itself has acknowledged that some are buried.
Now comes further proof that the industry is struggling to dispose of its feathered victims. December 11 has been formally designated by lobby group, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), as Give-Away-A-Brace-Day.
Shooting live creatures for fun needs explanation. Providing unwanted food for the consumer is the BASC justification.
Because of mass commercial pleasure shooting, there is probably more pheasant available today than at any time since the Edwardian era. Yet the meat is so unpopular, it has to be given away.
If you must accept this morally indefensible gift - for which the market price is 30 pence a carcass - please ponder why it was hatched, raised and killed. But just as importantly - why you were given it.