Pheasants are not native birds, but we have millions of them (along with partridges and quail). They are lovely birds with a croaking call but have no road sense, and lots of them are killed each year, as they are overbred for the pheasant shooting industry.
League Against Cruel Sports is campaigning against caged breeding. Most pheasants raised to be shot for food or ‘sport’ are housed in conditions similar to battery-farmed chickens. Many people who go shooting are not good at it, and so many birds are injured rather than killed outright. Over-breeding also leads to impacts on our ecosystems (they eat sand lizards and baby adders, so over-breeding leads to too many being eaten). Some gamekeepers also set traps to target native predators like foxes and stoats, which in turn can trap hares and badgers (or even domestic dogs).
Another issue often not talked about in political circles is that pheasant shooting is one area linked to an increasing amount of flooding. This is because the land with bogs (peat etc) is flattened, by burning heather to provide breeding habitats. This in turn means the bogs are not able to absorb rain, which turns into floods. But as most pheasant shoots are on private estates, nobody can see. And like hares, there are no closed seasons, so when the adults die, so babies are left to starve.
Learn more in Mark Avery’s book Conflict in the Uplands. Looking at the conflict between grouse shooting and nature conservation, this multi-million pound business dominates the hills of the Pennines, North Yorkshire Moors, Cheviots and Scotland. And backed by powerful lobbyists, to prevent change even though it’s wrecking the hills and impacting habitats of mountain hares and hen harriers. He also details his campaign with Chris Packham to gain support to ban grouse shoooting, which came to light during the devastating floods of 2015, showing how they were all linked.