DEFRA is currently running a consultation about the harmful impacts of releasing gamebirds (pheasants and partridges) for recreational shooting on and near to protected sites of nature conservation value.
DEFRA is running this consultation as part of a review it committed to take after Wild Justice took it to court last year (a legal challenge to which many of you contributed and supported, thank you).
The exact number of gamebirds that are released in the UK for shooting every year is not known because, incredibly and unlike virtually every other European country, the game bird shooting industry in the UK is under-regulated. Nobody even knows how many game bird shoots there are because the people involved do not have to register anywhere, nor report on the number of birds released / shot each year. It’s been a great old wheeze for decades.
[This photograph of non-native pheasants released for shooting was posted on social media by a gamekeeper in Scotland]
The most recent figures, still considered to be a conservative estimate, were for the year 2018 and included 49.5million pheasants and 11.7 million red-legged partridges, making a total of 61.2 million non-native gamebirds released into our countryside. These figures emerged as a result of Wild Justice’s recent successful legal challenge on gamebird releases (see Mark Avery’s blog here for more details).
DEFRA’s consultation closes on Monday (15th March 2021) so if you want to have your say, you only have this weekend to do it.
For those who would like advice and guidance about how to respond to the consultation questions, please visit the Wild Justice blog here, where you’ll find an easy step-by-step guide.
It’s important that as many people as possible respond to this consultation so that DEFRA understands this is an issue of concern. If the majority of responses that DEFRA receives are responses from the game-shooting industry, demanding the status quo and zero changes, then that’s what DEFRA will do.
Responding to the consultation is not as daunting as you might think. Hundreds of supporters have already done it and have told Wild Justice how straightforward it was (e.g. read some of their comments here, here and here).
Here’s the link again on how to respond if you’d like to participate – click here