Government agrees to examine impact of shooting industry’s release of 50m non-native birds
Thu 12 Sep 2019 10.20 BST Last modified on Thu 12 Sep 2019 11.56 BST
The annual release of more than 50 million non-native game birds into the countryside with no environmental assessment is to be reviewed by the government after campaigners announced a legal challenge.
Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay, of the campaign group Wild Justice, argued that the massive and unregulated increase in the number of pheasants and red-legged partridges put into the British countryside for shooting each year – up from 4 million in the early 1970s – contravened the EU habitats directive.
Under these laws, the impact of game birds on the biodiversity of protected areas must first be assessed. Pheasants and partridges can prey on native reptiles and amphibians, while recent scientific evidence has shown an association between game birds and higher numbers of foxes and avian predators such as crows, which in turn prey on rare species such as curlew.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has confirmed there will be a review of the way game birds are released on or near protected areas such as special areas of conservation in England.