Partridge and pheasant shoots, which begin in September and October, are now being prepared – like the planting of shelters for the benefit of game birds and other wild animals. They risk losing this money if they later have to cancel.
Mr Breitmeyer said: “If we could get the eggs into the country now, people could start the season later. They might be able to get two-thirds of a season.
“But people have to make decisions now and that comes at a cost. They might think they won’t make the expense if they don’t have birds. Some of the shoots in this area have already decided to cancel, as they need to draw a line.
The supply of partridges has been hit the hardest, according to analysis by Digby Taylor of Guns On Pegs, the UK’s biggest shooting marketplace with more than 100,000 members.
He said the problems have led to bidding wars over young birds, the price of which is already inflated due to rising fuel and wheat costs.
“The whole campaign suffers” from canceled filming
Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “Shooting contributes billions of dollars to the UK economy and is a major lifeline for a wide list of other businesses, including hospitality.
“Many already fragile communities that will be hit by a bad season this year will not have many other sources of income to fall back on. This pain will only be exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. When filming is negatively impacted, the entire campaign suffers.
The impact will also be felt by pubs, hotels, caterers and country sports shops – some in areas that rely heavily on filming for the custom in autumn and winter as tourists disappear.
Anthony Stone, a gunsmith and country clothing dealer who owns the Emmett and Stone Country Sports store near Marlow, Buckinghamshire, said: “Businesses like ours, which sell products from other rural businesses, rely on a successful shooting season.
“The difference between a good and a bad season can be catastrophic. When filming is negatively impacted, many other companies feel that pain as well.
Loss of revenue to harm conservation efforts
It is warned that the losses could also impact future conservation efforts, of which game wardens would be at the centre.
Garry Doolan, from Aim to Sustain, a coalition of shooting organisations, said: “Shooting supports large areas of the countryside and is at the forefront of tackling the biodiversity crisis by creating habitats and species management.
“The hunting community will continue to play this role whether or not they have partridges and pheasants this season, but the loss of income is bound to impact future conservation investments.”
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “This year has been particularly difficult for avian flu, with many countries, including France, experiencing large outbreaks of this highly infectious.
“We are actively discussing with the European Commission changing our French import and export rules to facilitate trade from restricted areas. We will continue to support our game farming and shooting sectors and we We will write to them to provide an update on progress being made in dealing with the egg supply disruption.