Game laws to be relaxed

THE ARCHAIC laws that for 173-years have prevented the sale of game in supermarkets and butchers shops all-year-round are to be scrapped by the government, reports The Times.

The Game Act 1831 and the Game Licensing Act 1860 are to be reviewed by junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw and could be abolished before the next election.

“The game laws are archaic and we are going to have to get rid of them,” Mr Bradshaw told the paper.

“We will launch a formal review of the laws very soon but my inclination is to abolish game licences. I also believe their value as a deterrent to poaching is questionable.”

The government thinks that if people were given greater access to the high protein, low cholesterol meats such as pheasant, partridge and venison it would improve their diets.

“I want to see greater demand for this meat. There is a lot of game out there — the deer population in the UK is exploding at the moment,” said Mr Bradshaw.

“Game is very high in protein, low in fat and contains important omega-3 oils. Managing game also makes a massive contribution to our landscape and to biodiversity.”

Currently the game industry is worth in the region of £30-50m a year with the majority – 85% – of game exported to the continent.

The move has the support of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation as well as the British Retail Consortium, the body which represents the supermarkets.

But the move is a disappointment to the Country Land and Business Association which regard the laws as protection against poachers.

It fears that the removal of game licences will encourage people to steal game.

“The Game Acts are the only legal protection landowners have against poaching,” said CLA public law adviser Christopher Price.

“Game birds, once released, are not property. Anyone who enters land and kills them is not committing theft, only trespass, which is not a crime.”

By relaxing the laws governing the sale of game meat the government also hopes the industry will increase in value.

But it says the laws which set out the seasons when each animal can be shot, depending on its breeding season, would remain unchanged.

The Act currently defines game as pheasant, partridge and red and black grouse but excludes deer and rabbits.

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