Wild Justice’s legal challenge on gamebird releases hits the headlines

Wild Justice’s latest legal challenge, seeking a judicial review of the unregulated release of millions of non-native gamebirds in 2020, has been attracting some attention.

Announced this morning, the news has hit the headlines at the Guardian with a particularly good article (here) from Phoebe Weston, who’s clearly taken the time to read the details of this case:

Good to see that Phoebe’s article is currently ranked as the paper’s most popular environmental story:

17 thoughts on “Wild Justice’s legal challenge on gamebird releases hits the headlines”

  1. True and very good lets get it all out there. However on that list of environmental stories at No 4 is a story about the UK needing to embrace more conifers in the climate change fight——— NOOOOOOOOO we are just about the only country in the world that relies on non-native tree species for its forestry industry. Norway Spruce maybe, Scots Pine Yes. Sitka, Lodgepole and all those other New world species never.

  2. Defra “said it would not carry out an assessment this year as it was neither “reasonable nor realistic to expect measures to be taken before summer/autumn 2020”. How irrational – the regulatory body, Defra, won’t carry out any legally required environmental impact assessment before any likely damage is caused! What a great quote for your judicial review! They’re not fit for purpose.

      1. Interesting. I didn’t know pheasants got coronaviruses. I checked with the US Centre for Disease Control for the latest information on the sequencing, and found this:


        “The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from U.S. patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir.

        Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread.”

        Also, just to avoid confusion “On February 11, 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, charged with naming new viruses, named the novel coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, shortened to SARS-CoV-2.”

    1. It’s not exclusively carried by birds…

      “In the United Kingdom, Lyme disease is known to be carried mainly by small mammals, such as mice and voles, and birds, though larger mammals can also carry it. Ticks feeding on these animals pick up the Lyme disease bacteria and pass them on to the next animal they feed on. The principal tick that attaches to humans is the sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus but the hedgehog tick I hexagonus and the fox or English dog tick I canisuga can sometimes attach too. Ticks can also feed on deer, cattle and sheep, which appear to kill off the bacteria in the tick (9). The sheep tick prefers to live in long grass, woods and moorland, although it does not occur exclusively in these habitats. The other two species of tick live mainly in the homes of their hosts (hedgehogs, foxes and badgers) but can be found wherever these animals travel. People who live or work in the parts of the country where the ticks are prevalent are likely to be at greater risk, as are those in urban areas with overgrown gardens or with extensive parks. However, cases of the disease are widespread and it is possible that the full picture of tick distribution is not yet fully understood. Anyone can get Lyme disease if a tick that is carrying the infection has bitten them.”

      from –


        1. I suspect the likely pathway is that the juvenile ticks living in leaf litter bite whatever comes close: feeding blackbirds and pheasants for instance, also small mammals. The adults are known to climb to the tops of taller vegetation, such as grass stems, and wait to catch hold of passing animals, which would be the larger mammals.

          In the USA the pathway is believed to be mice and deer.

          1. This is the position of the GWCT on tick control.

            Disease control on grouse moors
            ”To reduce the number of ticks on moorland, generally the sheep need to be dipped once or twice more than usual in the summer. The GWCT has developed and continues to research new methods of tick control. If a large population of deer are providing an additional host and inflating the tick population, deer numbers can be reduced on the moor.”

            Deer management
            The GWCT … research suggests that:
            Deer are the likely driver behind the UK’s increasing tick population (Scharlemann et al 2008)….
            Initial monitoring on moors in Strathspey and through the Angus Glens Moorland Health Project suggests deer densities lower than 5 deer per 100ha are more than likely sustainable, as sheep treated with acaricides (aka ‘sheep-mops’) remain effective in reducing tick abundance. Our data suggests that higher deer densities can render sheep-mop management of tick ineffective, especially where sheep are thinly distributed on the ground.

            However, we are still researching the questions of how many deer and hares are too many and how many sheep are enough as regards effectively controlling disease in red grouse.”

            Kill. Kill. Kill.

            1. “as regards effectively controlling disease in red grouse.”

              Ah, but what is the GWCT doing about effectively controlling disease in introduced Pheasants? They are not being sufficiently checked at all.

              1. Ah I see, No thorough checks for ticks of released pheasants and no ‘mopping up’ of ticks using sheep in pheasant woods! Fascinating.

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