Rural mental health inquiry must account for gamekeepers and shooting, says BASC

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has raised the importance of recognising the challenges faced by gamekeepers and the physical and mental health benefits of shooting within the Environment Food Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee’s mental health inquiry.

The wide-ranging inquiry launched in November 2021 will set out recommendations about how the government can improve mental health provision in rural communities.

BASC’s submission to the inquiry highlighted the evidenced abuse and threats received by gamekeepers, which in certain cases had led to mental health deterioration and relationship breakdowns.

The Association also highlighted evidence of how shooting makes an important contribution to the health and wellbeing among people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.

Dr Conor O’Gorman, BASC head of campaigns and policy, said: “The inquiry must recognise the abuse and threats faced by gamekeepers. Recent research shows that almost two thirds of gamekeepers experience threatening behaviour or abuse from members of the public and this is linked to local and online campaigns by those with ideological views against shooting. It’s not right and the EFRA committee should not shy away from tackling this issue.

“The inquiry must also recognise that participation in shooting provides physical and mental health benefits. There is ample space to introduce schemes and funding that encourage more people to benefit from shooting. This would be good for people, local communities and the environment.”