One of UK shooters? favourite quarry species, the crop-guzzling woodpigeon, has topped a Government list of species with the fastest-growing populations. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) conducted the indicator of wild bird populations research, data that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) utilises to establish populations of breeding seabirds, woodland birds and wintering wetland birds.

The woodpigeon falls into the category of farmland birds, numbers of which are estimated to have halved between 1977 and 1993, and since then remained at approximately 55 to 60 per cent of their 1970 value. The enduring woodpigeon, however, has bucked the trend and populations are currently hovering between 2.5million and 3million breeding pairs, an all-time high according to the BTO. Considered a pest species and covered by the general licence, the growing number of birds is keeping pigeon shooters across the country busy.