How far should the Forestry Commission go with their lead ban

Now that the Forestry Commission intend to ban the use of lead shot for deer stalking and wild boar hunting, the particulars of tender document (see below) details shooting in the SW of England. However the tender document provides no information on how protected species found in the forests where shooting is permitted should be conserved. The first example is for Goshawk; any pheasant shooting tenancy taken up on FC land may well have breeding Goshawks (a protected species). No mention of advising the shoot that FC protects this species especially as it kills Grey Squirrels which of course is an introduced species.
Goshawk-predating-grey-web
Goshawk feeding on Grey Squirrel

What about other protected species? When feeding grain to pheasants large numbers of especially Chaffinches are drawn to the area of food which almost certainly will entice a Sparrowhawk or two. Most keepers would not understand that the Sparrowhawk is coming to prey on the Chaffinches and may try and have them removed. Remember Ian Newton’s so called great work on Sparrowhawk written up in the poyser series. Most of his work was on immature birds as the shooting estate where he was working removed the adult Sparrowhawk even though it was against the law.
Tunnel trapping kills Grey and Red Squirrels without discrimination, not that this wants advertising! But what about Polecat! Another protected species when looking at shooting in Scotland is the Pine Martens, an animal regularly taken out in ‘larson’ traps. Why is the information for any potential tenant so vague. How long will it take FC to add lead free shooting to their deer stalking along with information on how to protect other species in the forest? How does this shooting effect the general public who use the woods? Would it be better with no pheasant shooting at all on FC land?

GENERAL PARTICULARS & TENDER DETAILS

LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION – SEE SCHEDULE OF WOODLAND

  1. Forest Operations

The letting will be subject to the Forestry Commission’s right to carry out forestry, recreational, and agricultural work at any time. This may include ploughing, planting, thinning and clearfelling of plantations; construction and maintenance of roads and drains; extraction of timber; construction of buildings; provision of forest walks; laying of overhead or underground cables and pipelines by the Forestry Commission or other bodies etc.

Plantations will be thinned and other works as detailed will take place over the period of the Agreement. The successful tenant will be kept informed of the timing of this work but if you intend to put in a tender you may wish to obtain further details.

  1. Pest Control

The Forestry Commission retains the right to allow its staff, or that of a contractor, to visit the area whenever necessary and to keep down hares, rabbits, grey squirrels, wood pigeons, foxes and other pests. This may entail the use of guns, dogs, traps, gas etc.

  1. Public Access

Wherever possible the general public is allowed access for the purposes of air and exercise to Forestry Commission woodland on foot, bicycle and (by permit) on horseback. Car Rallies and other recreational activities may be held in some areas in liaison with the Forestry Commission, and subject to adequate advance notification to shooting tenants.

On shooting days the tenant will display warning signs at all access points into the wood and give at least 2 working days notice of their intention to shoot to a member of the Forestry Commission staff. Suitable signs will be provided by the Forestry Commission.

  1. Fishing, Hunting And Deer

The letting will not include any fishing rights. The exclusive right to kill and remove deer is reserved to the Forestry Commission; this may be carried out by stalkers accompanied by a Forestry Commission Ranger. Driving of deer on to adjoining land, with the intention of shooting them on or adjacent to the boundaries, is strictly prohibited. Drag Hunting by recognised hunts may be permitted by the Forestry Commission.

  1. Permitted Firearms

Only shotguns not exceeding 12 bore may normally be used.

  1. Keeper

The services of a Forestry Commission keeper is not available.

  1. Release Pens

Subject to prior consent in writing from the Forest Management Director or his nominated representative and dependant on Health & Safety regulations, Risk Assessments, and the possession of relevant machine handling qualifications, the Tenant may be permitted to carry out cleaning of vegetation and rack-cutting and to erect rearing pens in the woods.

  1. Inspection Of Area

If you are interested in this rough shooting you are strongly advised to make a thorough inspection of the area before making a rental offer. Plans are enclosed showing the areas. Please carry these particulars with you as a permit to view.

  1. Tenancy

A copy of the standard shooting agreement is available for inspection during normal office hours by appointment at: –

Forestry Commission, Estates Office, Bullers Hill, Kennford, Exeter, Devon EX6 7XR.

Tel: 01392 834228.

The rent will be payable in advance at the pre-commencement meeting which will take place at the Exeter office of the Forestry Commission when a final decision has been made regarding a tenancy and again on 2nd February for each of the remaining years of the tenancy. Subletting or assigning of any shooting rights will not be permitted.

  1. Term

The Agreement will run to 1st February 2017 .

  1. Insurance

The Tenant will be required to insure against injury or damage in the sum of not less than £5 million.

  1. Tender

Offers of rent on an annual basis, for the shooting rights over the whole area are invited and should be made exclusive of VAT and rates (although the rent is subject to vat), using the tender form. The tender form MUST be returned by post NOT e-mail and the envelope should display the following text: “SHOOTING TENDER 02/14 NOT TO BE OPENED BEFORE NOON 31 JAN 2014. The minimum acceptable lease rent is £450.00 + VAT per year.

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to the lease rent there will be a one-off charge of £100.00 +vat to cover the setting up of the Shooting Lease.

The Forestry Commission shall not be obliged to accept the highest or any offer. The acceptance of any offer is expressly on the basis that the shooting rights will be let on the terms and conditions of the Commission’s standard shooting Agreement.

The successful tenderer will be required to provide references.

  1. Closing Date

Tenders must be returned by no later than 12 noon on 31 Jan 2014

If you have any queries please contact the Estates Office at the address/telephone number given above.

1 comment to How far should the Forestry Commission go with their lead ban

  • Alastair Henderson

    Given that this is presumably a standard offer to tender I am surprised to see that among the pest species listed are hares [Brown Hares in Devon]- I understood that hares were a game species and therefore subject to closed seasons?
    I note that this tender was due to take effect on 1 Feb 2014 and last for three years.