Defra has launched its long-awaited consultation on proposals for an interim licensing regime for game releasing and management on European Protected Sites.
Defra’s proposal is that releasing pheasants and red-legged partridges in the protected sites and within a 500m buffer around them will be banned via a change to the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which will last for the next three years. During that time, release in these areas will only be possible under licence, and conditions will apply to limit release densities below the threshold at which there is any possible risk of damage.
The consultation will run for three weeks until 15 March. The GWCT urges all shoot managers and gamekeepers that are potentially affected by this change to respond to the consultation. To find out if your shoot is in or near a European Protected Site, there is a simple guide here.
Dr Roger Draycott, Director of GWCT Advisory, commented: “The GWCT will be carefully reading and responding to the consultation. We have previously questioned the scientific rationale and need for a buffer extending to 500m, but we are pleased to see that the key conditions relating to pheasant-releasing densities are based on the GWCT’s science-based sustainable gamebird releasing guidelines.
“We urge all shoots, whether in protected sites or not, to follow these guidelines which, alongside the GWCT’s Principles of Sustainable Gamebird Management, helps ensure they deliver a net biodiversity gain.”