RSPB calls again for moratorium on gamebird releases
The RSPB is repeating its demand, asking DEFRA to take a precautionary approach to limit the spread of avian influenza in wild birds
In a controversial move, the RSPB has repeated its call from last year for a countrywide moratorium on the release of all game birds and mallard.
The RSPB made the same call last August, but was ignored by DEFRA. Now the RSPB is repeating its demand, this time to DEFRA and the devolved governments, asking them to take a precautionary approach ‘to limit the spread of avian influenza in wild birds and reduce the risk of viral reassortment leading to new strains of the disease’.
The call was made in a blog by RSPB senior policy officer Claire Smith. The RSPB says that since 2021 there have been 10 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPA1) in gamebird rearing premises in the UK.
Dr Roger Draycott, Director of Advisory & Education at the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) told Shooting Times: “There is no credible scientific evidence that gamebird releasing and management is contributing to the transmission of HPAI to wild birds. Stopping gamebird management activity means stopping all the vital conservation work that is integral to gamebird releasing and management. GWCT research demonstrates that when sustainable gamebird management ceases, it can lead to a 50% reduction in farmland songbirds.”