Wild Justice challenges annual release of 50 million non-native gamebirds

Wild Justice has launched its second legal challenge, asking DEFRA to assess the impact of releasing ~50 million non-native game birds in to the countryside every year.

You can read about it here on the Wild Justice blog.

If you’d like to support this challenge, please consider making a small contribution to the crowdfunder here.

Much more on this developing story in due course.

28 thoughts on “Wild Justice challenges annual release of 50 million non-native gamebirds”

  1. As these animals are artificially reared and are fed by the efforts of intensive agriculture, domestic and foreign, classified as livestock for part of their lives at least, and then released specifically to be shot AND eaten those that do not reach a human stomach should be classified as food waste thereby acknowledging their substantial environmental and ecological impact through unnecessary farming – that which does not provide an actual human benefit.

    Also the historical and still on going role that shooting has had in seeding the countryside with non native invasive plants such as rhododendron and salmonberry for game cover needs to be recognised and dealt with. They have displaced a great deal of native wildlife and reduced the base of the food pyramid with serious negative consequences for songbirds etc. Known invasives such as cherry laurel and snowberry are still being sold as game cover, and erroneously as good for wildlife. Great stuff Wild Justice! https://www.ashridgetrees.co.uk/nature-mix

    1. Just this afternoon I was talking to a farmer about the problems he had been caused by a pheasant shoot feeding its birds on feed which included wild oats, which infiltrated his crops. He now insists on them buying their feed from him so that he knows what is being spread around on his land.

  2. I’ve no doubt ….putting all other considerations to the side for a moment … that the current epidemic of Lyme’s Disease sweeping the country … would greatly diminish should the rlease of up to 45 million pheasants annually was stopped.
    As far back as 1998 Dr. Andrew Hoodless, current head of Wetland Research for the GWCT helped research and publish a paper which claimed<
    "We conclude that pheasants are reservoir competent for Lyme borreliosis spirochetes and potentially play an important role in the maintenance of B. burgdorferi s.l. in England and Wales."
    To my knowledge Dr. Hoodless has never retracted thought the position of the GWCT, naturally, has altered, but without any supporting research.
    You can find the paper here
    I will certainly be contributing to the Wild Justice campaign. As well as being an environmental issue it is also one intimately connected with public health.

  3. Add to this the criminal activity in controlling (KILLING) their perceived pests. Raptors and many other predators are wiped out, to benefit the blood lust of the trigger happy.


    1. Very true, Doug, but this left field attack may be effective, as it will be difficult for it to challenged by demands for evidence, in the way raptor persecution is.

  4. 50 million? Christ! Even a layman could fathom the damaging effects of that.
    Excellent challenge – away to donate!

  5. I will contribute a relatively small amount to Wild Justice’s crowdfunding appeal, but with a heavy heart. Why? Because I feel that introducing legislation to regulate game shooting is unlikely to change the attitude of the killing brigades, especially gamekeepers and rogue ‘fox clubs’ who currently inflict suffering and death upon our native wildlife. I also believe that Government will continue to manipulate the regulations to allow unfounded lethal experiments along the lines of current badger culls. Regulation to control the current activities could be difficult to police, in the same way that ‘special protection’ by law does very little to avoid serious persecution of hen harriers and several other raptor species. As the main problem causing this slaughter of native wildlife is game shooting, I can’t help but believe that the only solution is to end the rights of gun lovers to kill any wildlife, which should be accompanied by legislation to prevent the release of non-native species which inflict harm upon native wildlife. To avoid unnecessary culling of imaginary ‘pests’ like grey squirrels or Canada geese, naturalised populations should be treated with respect as honorary members of our wildlife community. Some may think that Wild Justice’s incremental approach will solve the range of problems eventually, but I believe that it could risk entering a stalemate whereby the regulations will be circumvented in much the same way as current legislation. Were Wild Justice prepared to adopt a more radical approach and fully recognise the archaic pastime of exploiting wildlife by killing for pleasure, I would make far more generous contributions to their funds. I wish them well.

    1. The thing here though Iain, is that unlike all the other legislation, release of game birds can be policed. How else can you explain a coop full of 100s of pheasants one day and non the next with no slaughter record etc.

      This challenge if successful (and its a BIG IF) could at least help remove the need for one area of (lets be polite and call it) predator control.

  6. Interesting. There are so many exceptions in the Wildlife and Countryside acts for game birds (Pheasants are specifically mentioned IIRc) that it will be interesting to see how that law stands up to examination

  7. What about the non-native birds of pray that eat all the native birds? Are we going to do something about them are we?

    1. And what are these non-native birds of pray [sic], that eat ALL the native birds? (my emphasis)

  8. This whole mess is utterly appalling and will continue while NE, SNH and their governments feel the need (and it appears they feel it very strongly) to amend, bend and re-shape laws and regulations to appease the game shooting industry. And… SNH is ‘considering’, adding on (just to show it can) Ravens… to hold two fingers up to anyone who has the temerity to care for Wildlife, act decently and challenge them. Thank God for Wild Justice – I support all it’s doing!

  9. As opposing wildlfe crime is, of necessity, so often reactive, it does my heart good to see Wild Justice ”looking for trouble”

  10. I’ve responded several times previously on RPUK, challenging the received wisdom of SNH and others regarding the alleged damage done by Ravens. I won’t go into detail again right now, except to say that the conclusion of my 7-year study was that Ravens are relatively harmless, their interactions with farm livestock being as scavengers rather than predators. My conclusion was derived from many days of close observation (from a car or distance using a telescope). The largest flock of scavenging Ravens consisted of just over 100 birds, which farmers alleged would create panic among their flocks of lambing ewes. They didn’t. On my first day of fieldwork, I was astonished to observe such a benign inter-relationship between the ewes and the birds, with little aggression by the ewes towards the Ravens and vice versa. Later I was quite taken aback to observe how small groups of Ravens would encircle a ewe which was preparing to lamb, standing patiently only inches from the ewe. Ewes were quite prepared to stand still while the birds delicately removed afterbirth material from their hind ends. In seven years I witnessed NO lamb being killed or even attacked by a Raven. Yet the farmers claimed otherwise, but refused to provide statistics. It was not unusual for a lamb to die overnight, cause unknown, and occasionally a pregnant ewe would also die, providing rich pickings for the Raven flocks. It is true that a Raven will start to feed on a “coupit yow” (a ewe stuck on its back), but in my experience very rarely if a farmer doesn’t check his lambing ewes frequently. I witnessed such incidents only twice in seven years, a small proportion of all deaths. The conclusion from my findings was that Ravens don’t deserve their reputation as ‘ravenous,’ and are in fact the gentle giants of the crow family. I am unaware of any scientific research which shows otherwise. Under pressure from sheep farmers, SNH takes the easy way out and succumbs to their unproven allegations. In over fifty years of intensive birdwatching, I cannot recall ever seeing Ravens feeding on crops as also claimed by the agriculture industry. Are the Ravens within my recording area (Clyde) unique in that respect? Or is it the product of several lifetimes of old wives’ tales? Don’t ask Scottish Natural Heritage.

  11. Thanks very much for that hugely informative speel on ravens Iain
    I agree with you that it is only when attitudes are changed so that killing wildlife is not seen as something akin to Sunday afternoon entertainment- even Easter Sunday midday entertainment, as occurs in the Edinburgh Greenbelt- that this immense cruelty and suffering might become more manageable- but wishing every success to Wild Justice
    I recall after Fred the Eagle was shot an East Edinburgh councillor called for people to report any shooting they heard- if only there was so little ,on this opposite edge of countryside. Yet hearing sound of gunshot should be a cause for alert action
    The venerable Greer Hart recommended a book ‘ Eternal Treblinka’ – it can’t be recommended enough

  12. As a country we eat thousands/millions of chickens every day. Yet they are ‘farmed’. As a country we eat..I have no idea, but not very many pheasants/grouse, every day. If the reason to kill was to eat them, why are they not farmed? I do not like battery farming, but some control of the movements would mean no excuses to change the landscape to the detriment of other species or wipe out other wildlife. I defer to the greater conservation knowledge of the other contributors to this blog if there are other reasons..and I also would agree that as a native species the grouse would have a better life free and shot than locked up and killed. But pheasants?

    1. Sadly, I suspect that much of the shooting of pheasants is carried out as “corporate entertainment” for people that rarely, if ever shoot. The boss thinks it would offer “team building” and a jolly good booze up. Probably all to encourage the psychopathic tendencies of managers.

      I have suggested before that the penned birds could be slaughtered in the pens, then catapulted over the shooters, who fire blanks (most wouldn’t know the difference). A “bang” followed by something falling out of the sky equals success. The corpses are then collected for processing and sale to the meat industry without fear of lead contamination.

      The participants would be able to brag about their prowess and 100% kill. The countryside would not have more lead scattered over it. The meat would be safely saleable. The meat would not need to be fly tipped around the country or burned or buried.

      Cynical me? ;-)


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