Wild Justice has lodged court papers seeking a judicial review of pheasant and red-legged partridge releases in 2020.
[Seven week old pheasant chicks, often known as poults, in a release pen on an English shooting estate]
The three co-founders of Wild Justice said:
Chris Packham CBE: “DEFRA has been dragging its feet on this issue since we first raised it. It is time to sort this out and Wild Justice is fully prepared for a court battle on behalf of UK wildlife. Our challenge relates to Natura 2000 sites in England but the impacts will be felt right across the UK countryside“.
Dr Ruth Tingay: “The lack of monitoring and regulation of gamebird releases is staggering. The Government doesn’t seem to know or care how many are released each year and even the figure of 60 million gamebirds may well be an underestimate. Incredibly, there is nothing to stop the shooting industry releasing twice as many gamebirds next year. This has to stop and proper regulation brought in“.
Dr Mark Avery: “These non-native gamebirds go around gobbling up insects, other invertebrates and even snakes and lizards, they peck at vegetation, their droppings fertilise sensitive habitats which no farmer would be allowed to fertilise and they provide prey and carrion that swell the populations of predators that then go on to prey on other threatened species. And the biomass of Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges exceeds that of all native UK birds put together. This is a very serious ecological assault on the countryside which government is failing to assess and regulate“.
Wild Justice is represented by Tessa Gregory and Carol Day, solicitors at Leigh Day.
Carol Day: “Wild Justice quite rightly held off issuing legal proceedings last year on the basis that the Government said it would review arrangements to consider the impact of the gamebirds’ release in future. It is now clear that the review has only just started and that no action will be taken that could affect the shooting season in 2020.
If Wild Justice waited until September to challenge the legality of the gamebird releases it would be too late. The Pheasants and Partridges would have left their breeding pens, and the damage could then be done. And so – responsibly and properly – the Claimant is acting now, at a time when it is still possible to head off the alleged illegality“.
To read the full press release please visit the Wild Justice blog here