Wild Justice’s success on gamebird releases – what they say so far

Seven week old pheasant chicks, often known as poults, after just being released into a gamekeepers release pen on an English shooting estate

Yesterday Defra announced that they would be consulting on how to assess the impacts of releases of non-native gamebirds on sites of high conservation importance in response to Wild Justice’s legal challenge – see here.

Wild Justice’s view on Defra’s decision – see here.

Inaccurate coverage in the Daily Telegraph (maybe it would help them if they ever asked Wild Justice for information or comment before writing their pieces) – see here.

The Countryside Alliance’s Tim Bonner is quoted in the Telegraph as saying that:

Pheasants and red-legged partridges have been a part of the British countryside for hundreds of years and would have been present on many protected sites when they were designated.
“Research has repeatedly shown the positive conservation benefits of game shooting. We are confident that Defra’s review of the impact of releasing on protected sites will reach a similar conclusion.

This ignores, as Defra could not thanks to Wild Justice, that gamebird releases have increased enormously over recent decades and that the evidence of harm has grown over recent years too. Much of the research has been carried out by the GWCT but the shooting industry is wilfully blind to the downsides of their unregulated activities. If Tim Bonner, or anyone else, would like a copy of my recent British Birds paper on Pheasant releases which looks at some of the issues around Pheasant shooting (pros and cons) then sending an email to admin@wildjustice.org.uk with the title ‘Pheasants’ will enable Wild Justice to send him the paper.

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15 Replies to “Wild Justice’s success on gamebird releases – what they say so far”

  1. Hi Mark

    What percentage of land area do the sites of high conservation status cover in the UK?

    Also slightly off topic but Eley have just brought out a shotgun cartridge you will approve of! Proof the shooting industry is not afraid of change.

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      1. I should have read the comments to yesterday's post first. A very low percentage I see. Another good opportunity for shooting to show its benefits to conservation I'm sure.

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        1. S - but it's not just the areas themselves, it is also areas around them that are captured by this defra admission. In some cases (small sites or ones which are long and thin) the surrounding areas may be much bigger than the actual areas. that will depend on how wide the net is drawn. how far can aFox walk in a night? Or a Carrion Crow fly to feed?

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    1. S - if you mean that you appreciate Wild Justice’s ability to get the Environment Department to implement environmental legislation properly then you do.

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  2. I see that the Guardian covered this in a pretty measured and accurate manner today, including quotes from yourself, Mark.
    But, despite being well aware of his previous form, I was absolutely gobsmacked by the apparent nonsense in the last couple of paragraphs from...
    *****
    Andrew Gilruth, the director of communications at Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: “It is already the case that you can only release game birds, on land listed by the EU, with permission from the government conservation agency Natural England.
    “Ground-nesting birds may welcome this challenge because, unlike shooting, no such assessment is made of those walking dogs, running or mountain biking during the breeding season.”
    *****
    So, apart from the usual tactics of obfuscation plus flinging a dead cat on the table, any idea what the hell he's on about?

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    1. Matt C - I saw that too and I was completely flummoxed by what Andrew said. He doesn't usually make much sense but this time is quite an extreme example

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/12/defra-review-release-game-birds-legal-threat

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  3. My understanding of what he says/means is clear.... WJ have mounted this legal challenge as another clear stab at shooting by scrutinizing a the law/process which already allows for NE to assess the impacts of game bird releases on high conservation status areas. And, this highlighting of NE's assessment for effects of game bird release will also bring to light the need to assess impacts of non-shooting activities on high conservation areas, such as mountain biking, walking and watching birds with a rolled up copy of the Guardian in your back pocket. Of course because they dont involve killing for sport, which is what WJ is actually campaigning against, WJ haven't brought them to the attention of Defra by way of a legal challenge.

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    1. But S, I'd hardly imagine that an individual going for a run, mountain bike or walking the dog comes anywhere near counting as a "plan or project" for the purposes of the law???

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