GWCT speak with forked tongue on Woodcocks

Woodcock. Photo: Tim Melling

The GWCT has responded to Wild Justice’s call for the shooting season for Woodcock to be changed to protect the UK breeding population from overshooting – click here. The GWCT statement doesn’t state much but attempts to do the ‘it’s all very complicated, Wild Justice doesn’t understand’ thing. But it won’t wash.

In a recent, 2020, paper authored by GWCT in British Birds, GWCT give their recommendation for change to shooting practice, after a bunch of science which supports this view, that;

Engagement with the GWCT’s ‘Woodcock Watch’ project has been positive and a recommendation not to shoot Woodcocks before 1st December (, based on counts during ringing trips and arrival dates of satellite-tracked birds, has been widely adopted.

That doesn’t sound the least bit unclear, though it is highly optimistic in saying that this measure is widely adopted. You’ll find that the GWCT’s Pocket Woodcock Guide, which I remember checking at the time, is now unavailable, funny that, but GWCT will find it more difficult to erase their words from the record of British Birds. [Note added at 09:19: here is the link that works] which has this handy, clear and non-nuanced advice:

GWCT used to be a professional and 80% reliable source of information but my opinion of it has plummetted in the last decade or so. When it recommends something based on its research and then backtracks as soon as others take it up too, it is difficult to give it much credit or credence.

I note that Andrew Gilruth has moved on from GWCT to pastures new but unknown to me. Who will replace Andrew at GWCT now and where will Andrew pop up next?


5 Replies to “GWCT speak with forked tongue on Woodcocks”

    1. Rob – OK, many thnaks. I seem to recall that th link worked in the past, actually (but maybe not). but, thanks.

  1. “Suffice to say, it would appear from the letter that Wild Justice may not fully understand the nuance of the factors driving woodcock populations and neither is it clear how their proposals for statutory changes to the shooting season would enhance the population status of our resident breeding woodcock.”

    So, by extension, in publishing their pocket guide it would seem that GWCT also don’t understand fully the nuance of the factors driving woodcock populations either which must be disappointing given the efforts they have put into researching the species…

    An alternative explanation for their apparently self-contradictory position applies also to their stance on the elimination of lead ammunition. Advocating voluntary restraint rather than a statutory approach allows GWCT and other shooting organisations to pretend that they are doing something to address the problems in question without having to inconvenience their members by actually obliging them to do anything at all. It is hard to see why else they would not be giving their full support to Wild Justice’s proposal to amend the close season dates.

    1. Or it may be that rather than support their own science GWCT will attack those that it deems the ” enemy” at every opportunity. If that is the case my opinion of them has now sunk below zero to a negative value.

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