Wild Justice makes its case

Sporting Gun|June 2020

Wild Justice makes its case
Dr Mark Avery of the campaign group responds to a recent article in Sporting Gun and outlines why it is conducting a legal challenge about gamebird releases
Dr Mark Avery

Wild Justice’s challenge of gamebird releases is a challenge to Defra and how the government fulfills its responsibilities for environmental protection. It is, of course, of interest to the shooting industry in its various manifestations, but at its heart is environmental protection.

All plans or projects that may affect sites designated under the Birds Directive or the Habitats Directive need to be assessed for their impacts. Our challenge to Defra is that it has never done this for gamebird releases, despite the obvious potential impacts of releasing nearly 60million non-native gamebirds into the countryside every year. Defra has already accepted that it should do better on this subject which is why it is — rather slowly, Wild Justice feels — carrying out some sort of a review at the moment.

Wild Justice doesn’t know the details of that review, so we can’t comment on it. Perhaps foolishly, Defra hasn’t involved us at all, so we will evaluate it when the review is completed and made public Wild Justice has already won the first part of our argument. The English authorities are looking at the question of impacts of gamebirds on nature conservation, as we said they must. Lest there be any doubt about the case for review — which is already accepted by Defra — we would refer all who shoot to this statement: “There are legitimate questions relating to the release of pheasants for shooting and impacts on habitats and wildlife.” To find that statement visit gwct.org.uk

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June 2020