Could pheasant and partridge really be considered invasive non-native species? Taking to its conclusion the logical argument brought to light by the National Gamekeepers? Organisation (NGO) in its response to a public consultation on the issue, they could be.
The NGO has drawn to public attention the fact that the draft GB Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy, from DEFRA, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly, is unclear in its definition of what exactly constitutes a non-native species. The purpose of the strategy is to co-ordinate responses from Government and other relevant bodies to the threat posed to native flora and fauna by alien species such as mink and grey squirrels, or by alien flora such as Japanese knotweed. With regard to recent reintroductions, however, the NGO argues in its response ?that if species such as boar and beaver are being allowed ? despite their potential downsides ? simply because ?they were once here?, what guarantee is there that officials will not extend this logic and argue that species that ?were not always here? should consequently be eradicated? Gamekeepers and sportsmen would be in danger of losing several important quarry species: the redleg partridge (introduced circa 1770), sika deer, fallow and muntjac, the pheasant (brought in by the Normans), the rainbow trout (another introduction) and even the rabbit (courtesy of the Romans).?
Separately, but of equally pressing concern to the gamekeeping organisation, was the fact that the working party that devised the draft non-native species strategy in the first instance did not represent farming, shooting or land management interests. In its response to the consultation, the NGO stated unequivocally: ?We find it surprising, not to say highly unsatisfactory, that there were no representatives of gamekeeping, farming, landowning or fieldsports on the 29-strong Strategy Working Group that produced the draft.?