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Releasing birds on Special Protection Areas, Special Areas for Conservation and surrounding land within 5km of these sites is now regulated under a general licence. This will set maximum releasing densities on and around protected sites.

Advice on releasing birds on special protection areas

BASC’s Jack Knott told Shooting Times how shoots could seek help. “The first step for most shoots will be to check whether they are affected by the changes,” he said. “They can do this by using BASC’s Green Shoots Mapping or by following a link from the licence itself.

“BASC has created a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to ensure the small proportion of shoots affected by this interim licensing scheme have the correct information to hand in order to move forward this season. Members can contact their regional officer for further information and book a shoot visit to ensure all necessary actions are taken prior to the start of the season.”

BASC’s FAQs cover what types of sites are affected, how many birds can be released and what to do if you wish to act outside the terms of the licence.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is also offering help and advice to its members. Chairman Liam Bell said: “News that gamebird releasing can continue on or near protected sites according to best practice guidelines is a good result for the sector.

“We will be seeking reassurances from Defra and Natural England over data confidentiality in relation to the reporting requirements. We will also be pushing for a much more effective and prompt individual licensing regime for those who cannot operate under the general licence conditions.

“We will continue to update members when we have reviewed the licence conditions,” Mr Bell added.

Since the announcement of the licence, Shooting Times has spoken to several shoots that will have to operate under the new conditions. Most have confirmed that they can continue unchanged, with one shoot saying they had dropped two drives in response to the changes. From 31 May there will be maximum releasing densities on European protected sites’’Why: Monty Don, presenter of Gardeners’ World, on seeing the gruesome process of lambs being killed by crows. Perhaps he could have a word with other BBC presenters.’’“It happens over and over and yet never fails to disgust and enrage. I have watched a crow perch on the head of the lamb, taking its eyes while [it is] in the process of being born.”’’Who said it: Monty Don’’They said what’’Email your stories / shootingtimes@futurenet.com’