National Gamebag Census

National Gamebag CensusThe National Gamebag Census (NGC) was established by the GWCT in 1961 to provide a central repository of records from shooting estates in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The records comprise information from shooting and gamekeeping activities on the numbers of each quarry species shot annually (‘bag data’). The Trust celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Census in 2011, marked most notably by a major article from the National Geographic.

The Census also includes information on the numbers of gamebirds released on shoots each year. Through the inclusion of data from historical game books, records for several species extend back to the early 20th century and for a few game species to the early 19th century. Data on predatory birds and mammals allowed by law to be controlled have also been collected systematically since 1961. The scheme is voluntary, and we are most grateful to all the owners and keepers who send in their returns at the end of each season.

The long runs of well-documented data on 24 huntable bird species, 11 'pest' bird species and 19 mammal species make bag returns an important source of information on the changes in numbers killed and, by inference, on population densities. They also provide a unique historical perspective on changes in shooting itself.

Because a substantial proportion of the countryside is managed for shooting, the NGC data potentially reflect trends in national and regional abundance for a wide range of species, many of which are poorly monitored by government schemes. It is, however, important to realise that bag data depend on effort as well as on abundance, so the interpretation of trends is not necessarily straightforward.

We are always looking for new contributors to the NGC. There is no fee - we seek data, not money - and all information provided is kept strictly confidential. Please join the Census by completing our sign-up form.