PUBLISHED: 12:49 02 August 2012 | UPDATED: 15:04 28 November 2012
Alan Titchmarsh supports gamekeepers as the Ground Force of the countryside
As guest speaker at this year’s National Gamekeepers’ Organisation AGM, Alan Titchmarsh spoke with passion about a favourite topic, the British countryside. Don Brunt took the opportunity to ask him about his views on game and game shooting.
Alan, you first shot game last year. As a naturalist, did this cause you any conflict?
Yes, because I know the pragmatic effect of shooting – the preservation and conservation of woodland – which benefits an enormous amount of wildlife and songbirds as well as gamebirds. I thought I needed to experience it.
Having tried shooting, is it something you’d do again or have you satisfied your curiosity?
From my own point of view, I have been there and done it and I don’t feel a need to do it a lot of times. I have always been a naturalist but Sir Peter Scott started off as a wildfowler and grew into being a naturalist so he came at it the other way. For me, gamekeepers are the responsible custodians and managers of the countryside and they do it brilliantly. There is no way I’m going to knock them or what they do.
I wouldn’t choose to shoot every day… I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the sport and the feel of the day. I would still say that I don’t get pleasure out of killing anything – but I don’t think the two things are irreconcilable.
So are you quite happy to eat game?
Yes and I feel that if you’re happy to eat something then you should be happy to
kill it. It’s the same if you think slaughtering cattle is a crime – then you shouldn’t eat beef. I do eat what I shoot and I think that’s an important part of it.
Do you think the battle to show what shooting contributes to the countryside is one that can be won?
It will be an ongoing battle and certainly not one that will be won in the short term. It’s vital to explain how the countryside works to people who are distanced from it. If you’re going to condemn anything you need to understand it, not just have an emotive response to the issues.