Wild Justice started its legal challenge of gamebird releases in July 2019. The latest published figures for gamebird releases of which we were aware were those by the GWCT in 2018 (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. 2018a. How many birds are shot in the UK? Game and Wildlife Review 2017: 41–42.) which referred to the 2012/13 shooting season and put the figure at 43 million Pheasants (and 8.9 million Red-legged Partridges). And so it was on that basis that we raised the money that has allowed us to make this successful legal challenge. Note that same paper gives estimates of numbers released from 2004/05 too; 35 million Pheasant, 6.3 million RLPs).
By the time we had reached this spring and rejuvenated the challenge due to lack of progress by DEFRA there was a new estimate published by GWCT (Aebischer 2019) which updated the figures to 2016 and they then stood at 47 million Pheasants and 10 million RLPs – now much closer to 60 million birds in total.
The documents released by DEFRA on Friday (of which we had, in Wild Justice, of course, been aware for some time) show (Exhibit EB2, page 113, section 1.3) that the latest GWCT estimates, this time for 2018, were of 49.5 million Pheasants and 11.7 million RLPs, making a total of 61.2 million non-native gamebirds released into our countryside .
I’ve seen so many out-of-date figures being used over recent months, even by the RSPB. I can understand that it is difficult to keep up with the growth of the unregulated gamebird releasing industry but can we all use 49.5 million Pheasants and 11.7 million RLPs from now until a new estimate is published please? The estimate for 2021 should be quite a lot lower thanks to the Wild Justice legal action.
No wonder Mishal Husain asked Tim Bonner (here – 10 minutes before the end of the programme) about the massive numbers and massive rise in numbers of released non-native gamebirds to which all he could say was ‘Shooting is massively popular‘. Thanks Tim, glad you could make it!
2004/05, 35m Pheasants + 6.3m RLPs
2012/13, 43m Pheasants + 8.9m RLPs
2016/16, 47m Pheasants + 10m RLPs
2018/19, 49.5m Pheasants + 11.6m RLPs
Or, over a 14-year period an extra 1m Pheasants were released every year and an extra 0.5m RLPs – total releases completely unregulated.
Well, at least we know where they all are released – do we? See next blog at 1245pm.