Breaking the law in the name of animal liberation is still breaking the law

Pheasant chicks - is it right or wrong to breed them for shooting?

Pheasant chicks - is it right or wrong to breed them for shooting? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It's legal to shoot game, raise chicks, sell those chicks to farms and estates and is legal to shoot. So why does the Animal Liberation Front feel it is allowed to break the law?

Whatever you think of fox hunting it is against the law.

It was a law made by our parliament, democratically and in full view. There may be some residual annoyance at this turn of events – not everyone agrees with the Hunting Act 2004 – but the law is the law and we live by the rule of law.

Anarchy – when social rules break down – is something we have learned to avoid and the rule of law is a philosophy most of us adhere to.

With good reason, the arbitrary exercise of power is not something many of us would relish. We want to live our lives in an ordered way, rules are in place to enable us to live harmoniously as possible together, as well as for the protection of the more vulnerable in our society. The rule of law is a long-standing principle and one that dates back hundreds of years and I sincerely hope will endure for years to come.

The news, a few days ago, that the Animal Liberation Front had broken into someone else's property in west Suffolk and released thousands of chicks, was little short of an outrage.

The ALF said in a statement: '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.

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'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.'

Firstly, with years of journalism behind me and well-developed cynicism for what organisations sometimes say, I doubt it was anywhere near as 9,000 chicks. Secondly, I remain unconvinced those chicks were running around for long, if I know anything about the communities we live in in Suffolk and Norfolk then people will have rallied round. Thirdly, I suspect, and correct me if I am wrong, chicks they claim to have liberated will die pretty quickly without human intervention. As far as I can see the ALF liberated chicks to an almost immediate death sentence and will have made almost no impact to the shooting industry or their so-called cause.

A quick look at the website for the ALF – which shows people in balaclavas too scared to show themselves – leaves the visitor in no doubt to what their aims are:

To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the 'property' status of nonhuman animals.

To abolish institutionalized animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property.

Sure, but it remains perfectly legal to shoot pheasants and other game, it remains perfectly legal to raise chicks, it is legal to sell those chicks to farms and estates, it is legal to shoot.

The rules are changed in this country by democratic process, evolution, debate and civilised means. If it is wrong – and I don't think it is even though it's not a hobby of mine – to raise chicks for the shooting industry then have the debate, convince people, peacefully protest even, then the law will be changed. Hiding behind balaclavas and breaking the law is totally unacceptable.

Why don't these people hand themselves in and have a day in court if their message is so important and they are so convinced of their cause?

These people are cowards, bullies, and, above all, ignorant.

James' Mailbag

Thanks to all those who drop me a line, below are a couple I received this week which I thought I might share with you.

Dear James,

I read your article in the EDP about the visit of Donald Trump and the specific reference to him having a democratic mandate. We should always bear in mind that the USA has the same form of elective dictatorship as the U.K., it is not proportional and amounts to government by a minority of the vote.

He was short by 3 million votes of a majority. I thought it was also interesting that you did not mention that it was the schoolgirl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg who said that she would not bother to speak to Donald Trump because he doesn't listen and acknowledge the evidence of science.

The latest evidence of his unwillingness to engage in a process of debate is the refusal once again to meet up with the press at their annual dinner in Washington.

Dictators always like to control the media and behave as if they are a law unto themselves, which is why we should not acknowledge him with any formal visit to this country.


Peter Baldwin

Dear James,

Again I find myself nodding in agreement to your article.

Sadly no one seems to listen any more and if they do, and they don't like the answer, they chose to ignore it.

Maybe if we had a 'Donald Trump' over in England, people who voted to leave the EU might actually have stood a chance in doing so......

I am so depressed by the whole state of affairs in this country, that I doubt I will ever feel I can vote again when if the answer received is not the one desired, we tear up the results until they get the one they want... what is the point?

Donald Trump is certainly welcome as far as I am concerned.

Kind Regards,


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