Question from House of Lords about status of pheasants (livestock or wildlife?)

Earlier this month conservation campaign group Wild Justice said it was taking further legal advice after DEFRA continued to cause confusion about the status of captive-reared pheasants – when do they transition from being ‘livestock’ to being ‘wild birds’ and how do you tell (see here)?

Wild Justice also produced this handy flow-chart, which they named Schrodinger’s Pheasant, ever-so-slightly taking the piss on a subject that actually deserves far more mockery than this:

This ridiculous situation attracted a lot of media attention, as well it should. And now a question has even been asked about it in the House of Lords!

This from Natalie Bennett (Green party life peer), who said on Twitter, ‘Pheasants – livestock or wildlife? The government seems very confused on this issue, so I’m giving them the chance to clarify‘ and posted a link to this Parliamentary question:

A response is due from DEFRA by 19th January 2022.

UPDATE 22nd January 2022: Answer from House of Lords about status of pheasants (livestock or wildlife?) here

10 thoughts on “Question from House of Lords about status of pheasants (livestock or wildlife?)”

  1. Yes, and the question of them being one of the main hosts of ticks that successfully pass on Borrelia Burgdorferi the bacteria responsible for Lymes Disease. The fact that their numbers are not controlled amazes me given the 50 million or so that are released into our environment annually. No wonder the bacteria it into cities and parks so easily, most likely by dogs being walked in the country and themselves hostiung an infected tick that dropped off a pheasant.
    Here is the conclusion of research published by the GWCT in 1998 and signed off by a Andrew Hoodless BsC., PhD., (along with others) and who at one time held the positions of Director of Research and Head of Wetlands research within the organisation.
    “The results show that pheasants can be infected experimentally with B. burgdorferi s.l., that they can pass the spirochetes to ticks and that their infectivity for ticks may persist as long as 3 mo. 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.”
    Numbers of pheasants introduced since 1998 have greatly increased .. as have instance of Lyme Disease .. which is also accepted as being under diagnosed. This has a public health component too.

    1. What do you mean by ‘controlled’ ? Theya are already shot in their millions for entertainment and since they have no road sense (why would they) maillions more are horribly killed on our roads. If they are additionally such a health hazard, better to stop the annual creating and releasing of so many of them in the first place…

      1. ‘What do you mean by ‘controlled’”

        And yet the original poster wrote: “The fact that their numbers are not controlled amazes me”

  2. I have never ever seen a tick on a pheasant and ive handled a good many. One reason for perhaps more ticks being about is perhaps milder weather and more habitat that ticks like, ive seen ticks on Mink, and Polecats
    I would think that game birds in captivity are classed as livestock ,but then when they are released free to go they are really wild life.

    1. Just been on Lyme disease org and the biggest carriers of tics that attach onto humans and pets are the sheep tick, fox tick and the hedgehog tick, pretty much all wildlife carry some form of tick as there are up to 20 endemic ticks in the UK. The 3 listed above are the ones that most people come in contact with via walking dogs or animals visiting people’s gardens.

  3. Of course pheasants have yet another fiendish classification in their life/death cycle that could, perhaps, be added to WJ’s excellent flowchart. Yes, they become ‘game’ if they survive their wildlife/livestock flip-flop and make it to supermarket shelves so that those pesky food safety regulations for toxic lead levels can be conveniently avoided.

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