When is a pheasant considered livestock and when is it considered wildlife?
The answer has huge significance in terms of what species gamekeepers are permitted to kill to ‘protect’ their gamebirds using General Licence 42, issued by DEFRA, which authorises the killing of certain bird species to prevent serious damage to ‘livestock’.
The answers are not at all clear, as shown in this infographic created by conservation campaign group Wild Justice:
In fact it’s so unclear, and appears to have been rigged for the benefit of the game-shooting industry rather than to benefit genuinely at-risk livestock, that Wild Justice has started legal proceedings against DEFRA.
Wild Justice has three co-directors (Mark Avery, Chris Packham, Ruth Tingay) who work unpaid as volunteers. Their work to get a better deal for wildlife relies entirely on donations so if you’d like to support their work please consider a donation here. If you’d like to hear more about their legal challenges and campaign work, please sign up for their free newsletter here.
UPDATE 11th March 2022: DEFRA forced to U-turn on Schrodinger’s pheasant after legal threat from Wild Justice (here)