A farmer has accused animal rights activists of killing hundreds of pheasant chicks after raiding a farm and releasing the birds.
Eloise McDonald said the activists had left hundreds of chicks gasping for water and starving after cutting the fencing and gas pipes at her family farm near Ashford, Kent last month.
The 23-year-old said the raid had left around 3,000 birds dead, telling The Times she knew something was wrong as soon as she arrived to find the birds roaming free.
“They were mixed up in ages and that is very bad for the bird as the older ones can peck the little ones. I reckon we’ve lost about 3,000. I don’t know why they picked on us. We are a small family shoot not a commercial one.”
According to reports, Ms McDonald wrote on Facebook: “Some lowlife scumbag so-called ‘animal lovers’ let out 20,000 of my birds, cut all the fencing, cut gas pipes, hundreds of week-old birds dead, gasping for water and starving!”
Ms McDonald’s cousin Andrew Farris, who runs the farm, told Fieldsports Channel that while they had found around 80% of the birds, another similar incident could spell the end of their business.
He said: “We feel violated that some people have come during the night and smashed up everything that we've got.
“If we lose that amount of birds again, that would be us done.”
‘Animal rights’ extremists kill animals. Never forget these people are motivated by hatred & politics. They have no interest in, or understanding of, animal welfare https://t.co/sQeJz4YhLa— Tim Bonner (@CA_TimB) August 8, 2019
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, shared the story about Ms McDonald on Twitter, writing: “Animal rights’ extremists kill animals. Never forget these people are motivated by hatred & politics. They have no interest in, or understanding of, animal welfare.”
A post on the Animal Liberation Front’s website claimed responsibility for the raid.
It said: “We hit a game farm in the South East UK breeding pheasants for the shooting industry. We’ve heard that 9000 birds managed to escape.
“It was quite an easy job, we simply cut through the netting with scissors and knives and rolled it to avoid birds getting tangled up in it. Then we entered the pens and made them fly off.
“The sheds were left open and all the heat lamps were disconnected and smashed. The electric fence was also disconnected and then cut so the birds wouldn’t struggle with it.”
A spokesperson for Kent Police said: “Kent Police was called after damage was caused to enclosures and gas tanks between 8pm on 8 July and 6.15am on 9 July 2019.
“It is understood a number of pheasants were also released from enclosures at the premises.”
The force said there had been no arrests and officers are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.