The unregulated annual release of millions of non-native gamebirds in to the UK countryside (~47 million pheasants + ~10 million red-legged partridge) continues to draw attention, much to the dismay of some in the commercial shooting industry who probably wish the scrutiny would all disappear so they could get on with doing what the hell they like, as they have done for decades.
There’s been a flurry of media coverage recently, and there’ll probably be a lot more in the coming weeks as Wild Justice’s legal challenge goes for judicial review at the High Court in early November.
That legal challenge featured in The Guardian the other day:
There’s an especially interesting couple of lines in that Guardian article, as follows:
‘Christopher Graffius, BASC’s communications director, said the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust had guidelines on how many birds could be safely released and estates that broke the rules had been sanctioned‘.
Yes, there are voluntary guidelines, but as such they are largely unenforceable and a guideline is very different to a ‘rule’. It would have been useful if Christopher had elaborated on how many estates had ‘broken the rules’, which ‘rules’ did they ‘break’, how many estates were subsequently sanctioned, what was the sanction and who imposed it? These details are important if BASC’s claim of the industry’s effective self-regulation is to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, in Scotland there was a story last week about red-legged partridge being driven by the crateload through the Cairngorms National Park. This blog written by Nick Kempe of ParkswatchScotland is as thought-provoking as ever:
As Nick pointed out in his blog, he didn’t know the final destination for those non-native red-legged partridge but there are no rules about releasing them inside the Cairngorms National Park, or in any other so-called National Park in the UK for that matter. It really is quite astonishing when you consider the hoops that, quite rightly to a point, have to be jumped to reintroduce a native species anywhere in the UK.
It would be interesting to know where those red-legged partridge were heading. Presumably not to be released to replenish a shoot because that would be a breach of one of the ‘five golden rules’ of the Code of Good Shooting Practice, and we all know how law-abiding the shooting industry is, right?
Then yesterday there was another interesting article in The Guardian where it was claimed that pheasants ‘could wipe out Adders in Britain within 12 years’. You can read that article here.
October 1st marked the opening of the pheasant-shooting season in the UK and seeing as though gamebird shooting is exempt from the Covid restrictions that the majority of us are having to live with, there’ll be pheasants being shot from the skies as this is typed.
Keep an eye out for piles of dumped shot gamebirds along hedgerows, roads, laybys, local woodland, fields etc. It happens every year and is a widespread problem; the photographs exposing the reality of unregulated gamebird shooting in the UK. E.g. see previous reports of shot dumped birds in Cheshire, Scottish borders (here), Norfolk (here), Perthshire (here), Berkshire (here), North York Moors National Park (here) and some more in North Yorkshire (here) and even more in North Yorkshire (here), Co. Derry (here), West Yorkshire (here), and again in West Yorkshire (here), N Wales (here), mid-Wales (here), Leicestershire (here) and Lincolnshire (here).