Game birds: The ethics of shooting birds for sport

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 4 (1):52 – 65 (2010)
Abstract
This paper aims to provide an ethical assessment of the shooting of animals for sport. In particular, it discusses the use of partridges and pheasants for shooting. While opposition to hunting and shooting large wild mammals is strong, game birds have often taken a back seat in everyday animal welfare concerns. However, the practice of raising game birds for sport poses significant ethical issues. Most birds shot are raised in factory-farming conditions, and there is a considerable amount of evidence to show that these birds endure extensive suffering on these farms. Considering the fact that birds do have interests, including interests in life and not suffering, what are the ethical implications of using them for blood sports? Indeed, in the light of the suffering that game birds endure in factory farms, it may be that shooting such birds for sport is more morally problematic than other types of hunting and shooting which many people are often fiercely opposed to, for while it seems plausible to say that some animals may be harmed more by death than others (due to, say, their greater capacities), there may be harms that are worse than death (such as a life of intolerable suffering). The objective of this paper is to assess the ethics of shooting animals for sport, and in particular the practice of raising game birds for use in blood sports, by applying principles commonly used in ethics; specifically the principle of non-maleficence and equal consideration of (like) interests
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