BASC is preparing to engage in a Defra review on the way in which the release of gamebirds on or near protected sites in England is managed following a proposed legal challenge.
Defra has said this will not result in any immediate changes for land owners.
Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said: “The impacts of pheasants and red-legged partridge have been well-researched already.
“When shoots follow the guidance in the Code of Good Shooting Practice, which is based on this research, we see benefits to the environment and the wildlife that lives there. It is the responsibility of the shooting community to make sure they do this if we are to enjoy the privilege of releasing game birds.
“If government agencies have concerns about a specific release of pheasant or partridge on or near these protected sites, they already have all the legislative tools required to intervene.
“BASC will work with our members and other countryside organisations when engaging with this review, which we are confident will return the verdict that game bird releasing to the standards set down in the code is environmentally responsible and to society’s benefit.”
Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said: “Evidence of the benefits of shooting to conservation and the wider environment is well-documented.
“The Code of Good Shooting Practice, which sets out the framework for sustainable shooting, includes reference to Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust research ,which sets out figures for sustainable game bird releasing that do not damage the environment. In fact, without driven shooting the rural environment, communities and our economy would actually be significantly poorer.”
A Defra statement read: “The legislative regime surrounding gamebird releases will remain unchanged in the immediate term and there will be no impact on the industry.
“The industry will be kept informed of progress with the review in due course.”
The detail of the review will be developed over the coming weeks.
“Have Your Say”
Furthermore, BASC is urging members to take part in a 12-week public survey launched on 12 September by environment secretary Theresa Villiers as part of a planned review of general licences to manage pest birds in England.
Defra is leading the review in close partnership with Natural England and says the aim of the review “is to ensure the licensing system is robust, striking the right balance between the protection of wild birds and the activities people such as landowners and farmers need to carry out for specific purposes, such as protecting livestock or crops or for conservation purposes.”
BASC’s head of policy and campaigns, Dr Conor O’Gorman, urged people to respond to the online survey, as they did when Natural England revoked general licences earlier this year.
More than 29,000 people responded to an online survey set up by BASC to gather evidence following Natural England’s revocation of general licences in England in the Summer. The survey fed into BASC’s official response to Defra.
Dr O’Gorman said: “We would urge everyone who shoots to take part in Defra’s survey. Your evidence counts. We had a fantastic response to the survey we ran over the summer which fed into our response to Defra.
“Engaging in the process is hugely important and the more people who make their views known, the louder the voice of the shooting community.”
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