The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is calling on farmers, landowners and the fieldsports community to help ensure that wild grey partridges survive the coming winter.
The early results of the GWCT 2016 Partridge Count Scheme (PCS) has caused the organisation concern about chick survival success over the colder months.
Sporting Gun writer Dr Roger Draycott, head of advisory at the GWCT, said that by taking part in its PCS and adopting certain conservation measures, farmers and keepers can help more birds survive the winter.
Wild grey partridge rules for shooters and keepers
Dr Draycott has outlined six “golden rules” for shooters and keepers when it comes to grey partridges.
- Do not shoot wild grey partridges if you have fewer than 20 birds per 250 acres (100 hectares) in the autumn. Below this level the population has little ability to compensate for shooting losses.
- Stop shooting wild grey partridges as soon as the threshold of 20 birds per 250 acres (100 hectares) is reached.
- Avoid shooting grey partridges after the end of December. Birds pair up in the New Year and shooting at this time reduces the breeding stock.
- Never shoot at grey partridges that are in pairs.
- With driven red-leg or pheasant shooting, take special precautions to ensure that wild greys are not shot at the same time. Warn the Guns if grey partridges may be on the drive and make them aware that higher birds in tight coveys might be greys.
- Lastly, do not shoot grey partridges at all unless you take steps to conserve them.