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Gamebird release impact views are ‘groupthink’

Land managers may ignore evidence of gamebird impact depending on their job, a new paper by RSPB suggests.

The scientific paper highlights the perception divide on the impact of gamebird release between land managers employed by conservation NGOs and government, and those from farming and game shooting estates. The former were more likely to perceive the negative aspects of gamebird release such as detrimental changes to vegetation and soil. But the latter saw the positive ones, such as the extra food available for wild bird species. 

In many cases stakeholder perceptions of impacts did not match the underlying scientific evidence base, indicating areas where raising awareness and better evidence may be required. In general, keepers’ and farmers’ evaluations were more closely based on first-hand experience than those employed by NGOs.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of Countryside Alliance, said: “Negative assumptions, often shared in the echo chamber of social media, have generated a false truth that has been adopted even by organisations which claim to be neutral and led by the evidence. 

“These findings support the contention that there is an element of groupthink attached to the attitude of those working for NGOs, government and agencies about activities like shooting.”