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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Game shooting laws to be relaxed
Grouse shooting
The shooting season starts on 12 August
Restrictions dating back to the 1830s on shooting and selling game will end in England and Wales from August.

Game licences will no longer be needed and pheasants, grouse and other game will be able to be sold all year round.

But moves to end the ban on shooting game on Sundays and Christmas Day have been abandoned, after much opposition.

Defra minister Joan Ruddock said the aim was to make game laws less bureaucratic and to have "legislation that is fit for modern times".

Defra has committed to cut bureaucracy by 25% by 2010 and says the new regulations will make game dealing "less bureaucratic".

Gun worry

According to its consultation, most people supported moves to scrap the need for a licence to shoot game, and two separate ones to sell game and venison - although opponents said it could be dangerous to deregulate any activity involving guns.

Moor game

In the age of the deep freezer, most respondents also supported moves to allow pheasants, partridges, grouse, other wildfowl and deer to be sold outside the "open season" - when it is legal to shoot game.

But 90% of respondents did not support moves to relax restrictions on shooting game on Sundays and Christmas Day, following a campaign by the League Against Cruel Sports.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) also opposed ending the Sunday restrictions.

New offence

Spokesman Christopher Graffius said: "The shooting of game normally involves large numbers of people and employers who have gamekeepers, pickers-up, all sorts of people.

"We were very conscious that there were a minority of commercial shoots who would quite happily shoot seven days a week and this does no good to the reputation of the sport."

He added that most people liked to have a lie-in on a Sunday, which might prove difficult if guns started going off at 9am.

By cutting all this red tape, we are improving consumer choice by enabling game dealers to sell locally produced game all year round
Joan Ruddock
Defra minister

It is thought that 480,000 people take part in shooting game, which supports about 70,000 jobs and provides 1.6bn to the UK economy.

The new Regulatory Reform Order will also introduce a new criminal offence - making it illegal to sell game birds which have been unlawfully killed or stolen, when the seller had reason to believe they might have been so.

The aim is to continue to protect game birds during the "close season" while allowing the sale of those killed during the open season all year round.

Mrs Ruddock said: "It is only right that we have legislation that is fit for modern times. The new regulations will make the shooting of and dealing in game less bureaucratic.

"By cutting all this red tape, we are improving consumer choice by enabling game dealers to sell locally produced game all year round."

The changes, which come into force ahead of the start of the 2007 shooting season on 12 August, only apply to England and Wales, although there are moves ahead to scrap licences in Scotland as well.

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