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15 November 2005

She's seen off bad-boy actors, the nation's harshest film critics and generations of young pop pretenders - but now Madonna has admitted that even she was no match for the sight of a dying pheasant. The Queen of Pop has revealed that she has given up game bird shooting after witnessing the dying moments of a bird she blasted out of the sky on her Wiltshire estate.

The announcement, made in an interview in next month's Tatler magazine, ends months of speculation over whether Madonna had stopped joining her film director husband Guy Ritchie and his celebrity pals on shoots.

The Material Girl admitted she was a big fan of the hobby a couple of years ago, and loved bagging pheasants at her Ashcombe Estate on the Wiltshire-Dorset border.

But she killed one too many, and the moment a bird she shot died in front of her prompted the about-turn.

Last night, the League Against Cruel Sports celebrated Madonna's conversion. The antiblood sports organisation had offered her free membership earlier this year, amid rumours she had given up shooting because of her religious devotion to the Jewish Kabbalah sect.

The offer was rescinded when it was reported Mrs Ritchie "loved nothing better" than going out shooting.

But these words will stir the hearts of antishooting campaigners. Madonna said: "I was mad for shooting a couple of years ago. I used to go for lessons at the West London Shooting School, and I loved my bespoke outfits and everything. It was so much fun.

"That all changed when a bird dropped in front of me that I'd shot. It wasn't dead. It got up and it was really suffering. Blood was gushing out of its mouth and it was struggling up this hill, and I thought 'Oh God, I did that'. I caused the suffering of this creature." That was that for Madonna, even though husband Guy still holds shooting parties for his mates, including the likes of Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones and Marco Pierre White.

Madonna said she does not shoot any more.

"I am not a vegetarian and I understand that animals die for my meals. I respect that. But I just couldn't do it anymore. I haven't shot since.

"It's absolutely nothing to do with Kabbalah.

I realised I had a kind of bloodlust and was maniacally shooting things and trying to kill as many birds as possible." Yesterday, the League Against Cruel Sports welcomed the revelation, but said Madonna would be a hypocrite if she allowed Ashcombe to continue as a shooting estate.

The League's Declan McVeigh said: "We are delighted to see Madonna's realisation that blood sports lead to the unnecessary suffering of animals.

"We hope that she and her husband will stop profiting by charging other people up to 10,000 a time to undertake this cruelty on their land.

It would be the grossest hypocrisy to take the view she does and still allow people to use her land to blast hundreds of birds from the sky." 145792&contentPK=13503177 
East Anglia Animal Rights Coalition
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