Some red and amber-listed species may still be shot (Birdwatch Magazine, issue 338:42-45), but as Julian Thomas rightly says there is no evidence it drives declines. In contrast there is strong evidence, from across Europe, that shooting can provide the crucial long-term motive to improve habitats and protect ground nesting species from predation. Clearly, those interested in shooting have a vested interest in their quarry and destroying this link would throw the baby out with the bath water. Unfortunately this has already happened in Germany which has incredibly low densities of Grey Partridges. As a result, the bird is now classified as critically endangered in three states, endangered in eight and vulnerable in three with shooting greatly restricted or banned by law or voluntarily across half the country.
In contrast we may shoot them here and on the 900 farms in the GWCT Partridge Count Scheme we found an 81% increase in partridge pairs on count farms between 2000 and 2010, whereas national figures for the same period was a decline of 40%. That is why the GWCT is willing to work with and encourage landowners prepared to make that commitment for a wide range of species. Restoring wildlife on modern farmland requires serious conservation measures and somebody has to make that commitment and supply the funds in the long term. This is a complex link, but one all agreed as part of the Bern Convention on Biodiversity, so we must apply the precautionary principle and avoid dismantling an activity which is driving the local recovery of threatened species.
Director of Communications