BASC is a hapless bystander

BASC is probably under considerable pressure from its membership to ‘do something’ about Wild Justice’s potential further legal challenges of the general licences and actual legal challenge to gamebird releases. But there’s not a lot they can do except huff and puff.

BASC will tell DEFRA (that’ll go down well) that there is no need for any more regulation on the release of gamebirds apparently. I think what they mean is that there is precious little regulation of the release of tens of millions of non-native gamebirds and that’s the way they’d like to keep it. But BASC has no part in implementing environmental legislation and so it can spout whatever it wants but DEFRA will have to take seriously legal challenges on how it discharges its responsibilities. BASC is not a serious player as can be seen from the rest of what they felt they had to say.

BASC seem pleased that DEFRA has said that there won’t be any immediate changes to the regulations around gamebird releases. That is true. Who knows, there may never be any changes but Wild Justice obviously has legal advice which suggests that there is a good chance of changing things, using the legal system to get the existing law enforced properly. We’ll have to wait and see – well, BASC will have to wait and see, Wild Justice is making the running.

And when it comes to politicians saying that nothing will change, you need a pinch of salt as big as a pile of 15 million dead Pheasants (the number shot each year (approx)) to believe that.

BASC say that they are not aware of any adverse impacts of the release of game birds (notice that they do not add a full stop there) that can’t be addressed by the existing regulatory regime (notice that they do not say that ‘aren’t being’, they say ‘can’t be’), which leaves wide open the possibility that there are adverse impacts and that they aren’t being dealt with at the moment. Maybe Wild Justice and BASC are on the same page after all… (See Wild Justice Statement of Facts and Grounds on their blog)

BASC then go on to claim to be a science and evidence-based organisation (pah!) and say that they and Natural England have commissioned a review of the impacts of gamebird releasing on woodlands. On woodlands only? That’s interesting…

So when did BASC start commissioning the science on which DEFRA might make decisions about how BASC’s members should behave? Can you see the obvious flaw in that?

BASC say that they support the recommendations on gamebird release densities that are set out in the Code of Good Sporting Practice (1000 birds/ha in woodlands,(700 birds/ha in Ancient semi-natural wodland)) – the very Code of densities that GWCT say are exceeded on average by shooting interests because the average release densities were 1700 birds/ha and the highest recorded were 8000 birds/ha (Sage et al. 2005). So shooting interests aren’t sticking to their volunatary code of practice and yet expect us all to nod at how environmentally sound intensive gamebird shooting is.

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8 Replies to “BASC is a hapless bystander”

  1. BASC is no hapless bystander, they are a duplicitous bad faith actor. They are the rural version of the undercover officers that the Met send into protests to create a ruckus and discredit otherwise peaceful protests. We should start treating them as such.

  2. Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate it today, but yesterday on one of the Scottish moorland group fb pages they kindly posted a video from one of their keepers showing a cock pheasant attacking an adder that must have been taken in summer. The snake was probably just a bit too big for the bird to kill and eat so it eventually strode off, but not without delivering a couple of heavy pecks at the adder's head that wouldn't have done it any favours. I'm sure a slightly smaller snake, a slow worm or a common lizard would have went down its gullet. Perhaps the video was taken down because the penny dropped it wasn't actually conducive to arguing pheasant releases aren't a problem for native wildlife. A certain ex keeper once posted a video of a pheasant fighting with a lapwing, I think they removed that pretty sharpish. What an awkward situation for the estates if it was shown pheasants are bad news for waders, but beavers at places like Insh Marshes are good for them. What would a dedicated study of pheasant show us, I suspect keepers know and fear the rest of us find out.

    Interesting to see BASC have sunk back down into the depths after finally being semi professional about the lead issue. In fairness I don't think they'd be allowed to keep that up, their fb page is full of comments from those spitting feathers or cancelling their membership because BASC stopped dragging its feet re lead ammunition. The people being sensible about the practical and political necessity of getting rid of lead have been outnumbered 3,4 or 5 fold by the others. This is possibly why none of the shooting organisations are truly professional, if they were they wouldn't be representative of the bulk of their members. It also indicates why expecting any form of voluntary agreement with this lot to work is doomed.

    1. Les - interesting. Your first point is about a Pheasant on moorland - much commoner now than it used to be, and therefore any impacts are likely to be greater. And it was attacking a declining species (adder) - interesting again. Herp conservtionists are very concerned about impacts of released gamebirds, especially Pheasants, on lizards and snakes, and indeed amphibia - game shooters seem unperturbed.

      1. I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but in case I haven't there's a reference in this book about a landowner proudly boasting that they killed hundreds of adders on their land every year - and they said this in 2014! I haven't got a copy on me, but it's mentioned towards the back. I strongly suspect it was on a grouse moor. They really don't care about reptiles!

        1. Over the years I've met several keepers on grouse moors who have claimed that there are few or no Adders on "their" moor because they have been killed on sight for years. When it has been pointed out to them that this is an offence it was met with either stunned silence or that well known phrase the equivalent of two fingers.

          1. Looks like the scope of killing is even wider than we realised. I've heard some gamekeepers even kill hedgehogs and indeed they were found listed in a 'vermin' book from a gamekeeper convicted of wildlife crime last year. And how many keepers have blamed badgers for the decline of hedgehogs!?! Rumours that dippers are still being killed because they might eat salmon and trout eggs.

  3. Gangs of pheasants are often seen catching young frogs and toads.
    Clap and they just look at you. Chase them and they just fly a few yards and continue to forage in our willow growing allotment. In short, they are an uncontrollable ecological and horticultural pest.

    1. And of course if they get supplementary feeding they are not limited by natural food sources so can decimate them.


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