The RSPB is calling for new regulation and better enforcement of existing laws for the UK’s most intense forms of gamebird shooting, driven capercaillie shooting and the practice of releasing tens of millions of alien pheasants and partridges into the country every year.
At its Annual General Meeting today (Saturday 10th), RSPB Chairman Kevin Cox announced the results of the review of the Wild Bird Shooting and Land Management Organization and concluded that reforms are urgent.
Long-standing concerns about the illegal killing of birds of prey, the use of toxic lead ammunition, the burning of vegetation on bogs (some of our main carbon stores), and the release of 57 million wild birds (alien pheasants and red-legged partridges) into the countryside each year prompted the Move.
The review found that self-regulation by the shooting community had not nearly adequately addressed the environmental impact, and as a result, the RSPB is taking a tougher stance on these most intense forms of shooting.
Red Grouse, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the Surfbirds Galleries
RSPB Conservation Director Martin Harper said, “We are facing a climate and environmental emergency and it is up to all of us, from individuals to large corporations, to do our part to tackle the root causes and revitalize our landscape.
“With growing evidence and membership and public concern about the environmental damage caused by intense shooting forms, our trustees have asked the RSPB to conduct a review of the two most intense forms of gamebird shooting in the UK, namely ‘driven’. Capercaillie shooting and large-scale rearing and releasing of gamebirds to ensure our guidelines were appropriate. This included updating our existing policy on “powered” capercaillie shooting and developing an entirely new policy for large-scale versions of Gamebird.
“After reviewing the evidence, we believe the most effective way to improve capercaillie shooting is to implement a licensing system that sets minimum environmental standards for shoots. Failure to comply with the license would result in the loss of the shooting right. But the change has to come soon, if effective reform is not achieved within five years, our trustees understand that we will pursue a ban. “
For the large-scale rearing and publication of Gamebirds, the RSPB takes a slightly different approach and strives for improved environmental standards, a reduction in the number of released Gamebirds and better compliance with the existing rules for reporting publications. The RSPB is committed to working with the shooting industry over the next 18 months to bring this change about. Unless major reforms are imminent during this period, we at the RSPB will push for tighter regulation of large-scale Gamebird releases.
“The RSPB has recognized for many years that some types of Gamebird shooting can be beneficial to nature, but the most intense forms are harmful to our environment. Many in the shooting industry also realize that things are not right. We want to work with them and governments across the UK to end environmentally harmful Gamebird shooting, ”concluded Martin Harper.
The review spanned several areas of work and included extensive reviews of the available scientific literature on the effects of capercaillie shooting and high density publication of gamebirds. The RSPB also consulted members, supporters, staff and volunteers, as well as organizations and individuals with interest and expertise in the field, and their views were taken into account as part of the review.
More information and the full public statement can be found at rspb.org.uk/gamebirdreview