Gamebird release under review

Defra is reviewing the way in which the release of gamebirds on or near protected sites in England is managed, responding to pressure from Wild Justice.

Defra has said this will not result in any immediate changes for owners or occupiers of land, but conceded that the annual release of non-native gamebirds required “assessment within the meaning of the Habitats Directive.” It said it would “consider the legislative arrangements around the relevant activities and whether there are ways in which their effectiveness could be improved.”

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said: “The impacts of pheasants and red-legged partridge have been well-researched already.

“When shoots follow the guidance in the Code of Good Shooting Practice, which is based on this research, we see benefits to the environment and the wildlife that lives there. It is the responsibility of the shooting community to make sure they do this if we are to enjoy the privilege of releasing game birds.

“If government agencies have concerns about a specific release of pheasant or partridge on or near to these protected sites they already have all the legislative tools required to intervene.

“BASC will work with our members and other countryside organisations when engaging with this review which we are confident will return the verdict that game bird releasing to the standards set down in the code are environmentally responsible and to society’s benefit.”

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