Last chance to respond to Defra public consultation on gamebird releasing

The public consultation Interim Gamebird Release Licence in England - Defra - Citizen Space on proposals for an interim licensing regime for gamebird releasing and management on European Protected Sites closes on 15th March.

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 GWCT urges all shoot managers and gamekeepers that are potentially affected by this change to respond to the consultation here. 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: “We urge affected shoots to respond to the consultation. Defra are keen to understand how the proposed licensing regime will impact on shoots. We question the scientific rationale for a buffer extending to 500m when the scientific evidence of direct negative impacts is restricted to the vicinity of release areas. 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.”

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