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.