Undeterred by recent failures, Wild Justice keeps hurling its legal eagles at general licensing. The anti-shooting campaign group has launched two more legal actions seemingly designed to attack shooting.

In a newsletter sent to its supporters, the campaign group said it was “revisiting our challenge to the legality of large-scale gamebird releases on or near sites of high conservation importance” and that it was challenging the new regulations on upland burning introduced by Defra.

The action so far has taken the form of formal legal letters sent to Defra and much will depend on how Defra chooses to respond. 

The first challenge relates to Defra’s decision to issue a general licence for gamebird releases on and around protected sites in England. The licences, which were based on independent scientific study and established best practice, came into force at the beginning of June.

However, Wild Justice claims they are not tough enough and that despite there being no evidence of harm from gamebirds to protected sites, they must be made more restrictive. Wild Justice claims that instead of accepting there is no evidence of harm, Defra must rule out any risk of harm from gamebirds to protected sites. 

This action is at an early stage and is very unlikely to have an effect on any gamebird releases planned for this summer.

The second challenge relates to the restrictions in the use of burning to reduce wildfire risk and manage habitats in the uplands. The group claims that the new restrictions are unlawful because of a “demonstrable flaw in the reasoning” and that the new regulations are in breach of habitats legislation.

Finally, ignoring the importance of muirburn in preventing catastrophic wildfires, it claims that the regulations fail to take into account “the requirements to act swiftly to limit the emission of greenhouse gases”.

The shooting organisations, which are now well used to Wild Justice’s methods, were dismissive of the new actions. 

Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “These letters are nothing more than probing by serial antagonists led by Chris Packham. BASC will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure shooting is not impacted by spurious Wild Justice allegations.”


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