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Shooting organisations prepare evidence for gamebird releases in Wales

Shooting organisations have pushed back on a Welsh Government proposal to review the release of gamebirds in Wales, reports Matt Cross.

The Welsh Labour government has pursued what many see as an anti-shooting agenda in recent years, with an end to shooting on land managed by Natural Resources Wales, no Covid-19 grant support for shoots and significant new restrictions on the use of the general licences.

The initial call for evidence on the release of gamebirds closed on the 22nd of August after running for just 6 weeks and civil servants at Natural Resources Wales have said they will present a ‘preferred option’ to ministers later this year. The Countryside Alliance claimed that the timescales were far too short for proper consideration and pointed out that DEFRA, APHA and Natural England were undertaking an in-depth review into the impact of gamebird releases in England which will not be published until well into next year.

This review will address the knowledge gaps exposed by an earlier review conducted by the GWCT and Exeter University into the impact of pheasant releases on protected sites.

Little confidence

Shooting Times reader Rhys Allan who lives in South Wales had little confidence in the Welsh Government. Rhys said: “I think the review will find whatever they want it to find and that the civil servants will recommend whatever they think the government wants them to recommend.”

Rhys went on: “Looking at the recent history of decisions by the Welsh Government I doubt that this will come down in favour of gamebird, releasing regardless of what the real evidence says.”

BASC also criticised the Welsh Government’s approach. Dr Marnie Lovejoy, BASC head of evidence and environmental law, said: “Contrary to what is often purported by anti-shooting organisations, the release of gamebirds is already heavily regulated in the UK, including Wales”.

“Further regulations will not provide any benefits and will cause unnecessary red tape for an important rural sector, economically impacting on already deprived rural areas and undermining environmental targets if beneficial habitat management linked to gamebird releasing ceases.”