BASC is urging the police to be consistent in the covid-19 advice given to the shooting community amid reports that some forces have blocked essential fox control during the lambing season.
The UK’s largest shooting organisations has received complaints from members in some areas that they have been warned not to undertake pest control by their force unless it is their ‘profession’.
This stance sits outside the guidance BASC issued after seeking clarification from the government, which says anyone can conduct essential pest control to protect crops or livestock with the landowner’s permission.
BASC believes regional variances in police advice is damaging efforts to keep the countryside working during the lockdown.
Duncan Thomas, regional director of BASC North, said: “Some forces are getting this right and some forces are getting it wrong. But with lamb season in full flow, a refusal to allow essential fox and crow control is of significant concern for farmer’s livelihoods and the lamb’s welfare.
“Members are rightly concerned that they do not have the full backing of the police when being asked to undertake a vital rural service by farmers. This cannot be allowed to continue as it is affecting the vital work that needs to take place in the countryside now.
“It is also slightly bizarre that people cannot go and control foxes at the request of the farmer but the national body for police training last week told people it was okay to drive to the countryside for exercise as long as the period of exercise is longer than the drive to get there. It is a crazy anomaly that needs addressing.
“Not everybody who undertakes vital work in the countryside can be classed as a doing it as a professional for payment, but the lack of that status does not undermine the vital work they do. BASC is urging the police to show consistency across the board on this.”
The UK’s largest shooting organisations this week wrote to Environment Secretary George Eustice to ensure shooting and its associated conservation benefits are recognised when government considers easing lockdown restrictions.
Mr Thomas added: “Like every responsible organisation, BASC recognises the truly outstanding work being done by the NHS and emergency services during this time of national crisis and we reiterate our advice that people should follow the government guidance for that safety and welfare of themselves and the wider community.
“But the countryside cannot stop during this period and it is essential that legitimate pest control that protects crops and livestock is allowed to continue.
“It is a nonsense to suggest that this work can only be done by paid ‘professionals’. The countryside does not operate like that and BASC is challenging this with the police.”