SIR – February 1 marked the end of the pheasant and partridge shooting season. For many people, these ‘game’ birds are unable to stir the emotions in the same way as a persecuted badger or a vivisected dog.

But their capacity to feel pain is equal, while the scale on which they are ‘processed’ and killed exceeds that of, say, egg-laying hens.

Industry data suggest that around 42 million pheasants and some nine million partridges were released for shooting during the season just ended.

Having been hand-reared, the birds are ill-suited for life in the wild and some 60 per cent will die before they can be shot. And a large percentage of those who are shot will not be eaten – the pleasure for many guns lies in the killing rather than the eating.

The element that still enrages and pains those of us who oppose the ‘game’ bird business is that it is based on breeding animals on a massive scale so that they can be destroyed for pleasure. The law and the tax regime recognise game bird shooting first and foremost as a ‘sport’.

And figures from the shooting industry show that it costs more than 13 times as much to rear pheasants and get them airborne than the shot birds will fetch retail – efficient food production it is not.

It is time to follow the Dutch example and ban the production of birds for ‘sport shooting’.

Andrew Tyler, director, Animal Aid, The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge