As a recent edition of the League Against Cruel Sports Wildlife Guardian mentions, each year in Britain around five million wild animals are killed with traps, snarcs. guns and poisons. Most of it goes unseen, unlike hunting, and therefore it never reaches the media. Often traps and snares are lelt unchecked tor long periods of time, and hence animals and birds suffer slow and agonising deaths.
Sabbing hunts is usually done enmasse, but estates are best checked by individuals or groups of just two people - confrontation is to be avoided, since the immobilising of traps and snares cannot be carried out if the gamekeeper knows you are there. Also, the same area should be regularly re-visited and checked for reintestation of the offensive implements. (On one occasion I discovered fresh snares on one fence run three times in four weeks. Thankfully, since the last time no more snares have been in evidence. A small success, but one that has saved lives.)
Snares and traps can be placed in most countryside areas, but two of the most common locations are:
The actual release pen can be a problem, especially if it is occupied. You are faced with a dilemma - knowing full well what will happen to these young birds in the near future. However, at this point I would not advise damaging the pen in any way, or releasing the occupants, since if they are still confined they are not mature enough to be able to escape from predators and since they are semi- tame, and food is normally available, they will remain in that area. Releasing them only plays into the hands of the gamekeeper, who will label you irresponsible - unfortunately I would agree with him.
Satisfy yourself with being able to sabotage the actual shoots when they occur. What you do with an empty release pen is obviously up to you, but they are quite costly to erect, the wire being the most expensive component.
Once you know what you are looking for it becomes easier, though beware it can become addictive!
Shooting estates are easy to spot if you are out walking you may notice food bins amongst the woods; usually they are full of corn to keep the pheasants in the area. You may even notice an area with an obvious over-abundance of pheasants.
Be aware of the law - most sabs know all about trespass (ie, that it isn't a criminal offence) but far more difficult is the law concerning the demobilising of snares, an action which could be regarded as criminal damage, carried out with what could be regarded as an offensive weapon. The best rule is not to get caught, as much for your sake as the animals.
Anyone can be involved in this form of wildlife protection, whether you are an active sab out in the country to visit a hunt, or just someone out walking. It's something you can do even if you are unable to regularly sabotage hunts.
To conclude, might I suggest that local sab groups keep records of release pens in their area? This would allow people to help save at least some of the five million animals lives lost each year at the hands of gamekeepers and farmers .