Gamebird releasing in and near SPAs - Important Update

Further to previous blogs Defra publishes general licence to permit the release of gamebirds on and within 500m of SACs but not SPAs in England - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (gwct.org.uk), GWCT are advising all shoots planning to release gamebirds on or within 500m of a Special Protection Area this summer to apply for a licence without delay. Defra has decided that as a temporary emergency measure the release of gamebirds in these areas, game managers will need individual licences because of a perceived risk of transmission of avian influenza from gamebirds to wild bird populations.

To check which type of site your planned release is on, you can use these applications:

Natural England has updated its current online gamebird licensing advisory tool for 2023 to help shoots decide whether to apply for an Individual Gamebird Licence or not. This is not a mandatory part of the application process but can help if you are unsure whether your shoot will be releasing within the SPA or buffer. Natural England can answer questions and provide advice about applications by contacting them at gamebirds@naturalengland.org.uk .

Dr Roger Draycott, Director of Advisory commented. ‘We continue to engage with Defra and Natural England to highlight the negative impact that the last minute changes to GL43 is having on rural businesses, individuals and conservation projects. Many game managers are confused and face an uncertain future – we are urging Defra to re-instate SPAs on to GL43 as a matter of urgency, but in the meantime, all affected shoots MUST apply for an individual licence without delay’.

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