Stopping shoots on SPAs is counterproductive: Our response to The Telegraph

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Norfolk gamekeeper Steven Musk CREDIT: Jason Bye for The Telegraph

While there is no doubt the impact of gamebird releasing on the spread of avian flu must be carefully assessed and monitoring ongoing (Gamekeepers facing ruin over avian flu rules, 28 June), it must be weighed against the considerable risk of withdrawing the General Licence.

At the GWCT’s research and demonstration farm, the Allerton Project, a scientific study showed that when the “three-legged-stool” of game management: habitat and predation management combined with overwinter supplementary feeding, is removed, it reduces our farmland birds by around 50%.

Furthermore, scientific research on several Special Protected Areas has highlighted that breeding success of waders including lapwing and curlew is much higher in areas where control of foxes and crows is undertaken by gamekeepers. Therefore, DEFRA’s last-minute change in policy risks being counterproductive, especially given the lack of evidence that gamebird releasing contributes to the spread of avian flu.

Closing shoots not only causes economic, social and mental hardship for keepers and their families in a cost of living crisis, it also removes these Working Conservationists from the countryside, which could create a bigger problem than avian flu for our threatened songbird population.

Mrs Teresa Dent CBE
Chief Executive, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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The Licensing of Sport Shooting.

at 15:20 on 04/07/2023 by Alec Swan

Licensing ~ we need to ask of ourselves if there's a need for it and the intentions behind those who would promote licensing. The risks are very real and as has already been adequately demonstrated over the control of inland nesting Seagulls, the conditions of Licensing are either so draconian, or that the issuing of Licenses is delayed and with the only clear intention being that by the time that the License is issued, the damage has been done. If Licensing is to be used by NGOs or those bodies which are not directly answerable to Government or the Courts, then it will simply be the ultimate tool which will seal the fate of our country sports.

Letter to Telegraph re SPA's

at 11:27 on 30/06/2023 by Paul White

A very good letter from Teresa to The Telegraph re licencing of game bird releases on SPA's. I just hope, a) the Telegraph publishes the letter and b) DEFRA take note. I will not be surprised if neither happens. Nobody, not even the once pro-rural Telegraph, seems to care about science-led research anymore, especially when it involves anything to do with Fieldsports, without which our wildlife would be in a far sorrier state! Keep up the good work!!

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