Wild Justice has launched a new legal challenge, this time of DEFRA and its failure to assess the impacts on sites of conservation interest of releasing 50 million non-native gamebirds into the countryside.
The non-profit company, set up by Chris Packham CBE, Dr Ruth Tingay and Dr Mark Avery, sent a Pre Action Protocol letter to Michael Gove on 10 July. The team is launching a crowdfunder on Thursday 18 July at 10 am to raise £44,500 to cover legal costs. The aim is to force Michael Gove and DEFRA to assess the impacts of non-native gamebirds on native wildlife.
Every year 43 million captive-reared Common Pheasants (and 9 million Red-legged Partridges) are released into the countryside. The numbers released have increased tenfold in the last 45 years and, like most of the rest of the shooting industry's activities, are not regulated by government. More paperwork is needed to reintroduce native UK species into the countryside for conservation purposes than to release non-native omnivorous birds on a vast scale to fuel recreational shooting.
Chris Packham said: "The UK's shooting industry is one of the least regulated in Europe with no centralised collection of any data. No one knows how many birds are released or shot, whether wild or captive bred. So how on earth can that shooting industry claim to be making informed decisions about sustainable harvesting, stocking or conservation?