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Wild Justice launches ANOTHER licence challenge

The challenge comes hand in hand with an appeal for funds

Flying pheasant

Flushing pheasant

Once again Wild Justice has sprung into action, now challenging DEFRA’s updated shooting licences for England, which classify game birds as livestock, allowing keepers to shoot wild birds in order to protect pheasants and red-legged partridges.
The new general licence, GL24, was issued on 1st January. Wild Justice has challenged DEFRA on its legality. It says: “Unless we receive a legally watertight and convincing response to that letter we will proceed to seek permission for judicial review of DEFRA’s decision.”

Attacking game shooting

Caroline Bedell, BASC executive director of conservation, said: “This is nothing more than part of Wild Justice’s long-term strategy of attacking game shooting. The approach taken by Defra to define what ‘kept’ means is not new. For example, the comparable Welsh general licence uses a similar definition, this should be well known to Wild Justice who recently lost a legal challenge against Natural Resources Wales, where the Judge deemed that the general licences issued there were lawful.

“There has been no change in the law and the use of GL42 to prevent serious damage is of vital importance. ”

Wild Justice comments that any damage to gamebirds could be reduced by “netting release pens” and using “lethal control”.

Alan Edwards, Shooting Times contributor and a keeper in Northumberland commented: “The mechanism we have in place already has worked for years without endangering any species. Why change it and meddle? A lot of what is the best conservation work being done at the moment is happening on estates.”


In its campaigning work Wild Justice has managed to secure changes including removing all gull species from general licences.

In some areas, however, there is infestation of gulls. A spokesperson for the Bridport Arms in coastal Dorset spoke to Shooting UK and commented: “We warn people that they eat outside at their own risk. The gulls swoop down when people are eating and diners come in with wounds and gashes on their heads. The gulls also smash plates and glasses if we leave them outside at all. We have nothing against gulls but they definitely need culling here. They love nesting in our thatched roof and will attack people if they come near the nests.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on potential legal proceedings. The aim of our revised guidance in the new general licence is to clarify the statutory definition of ‘livestock’ in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, in relation to the example of released game birds.”