Quarry Species & Shooting Seasons

There are a number of gamebirds, waterfowl (ducks, geese and waders) and other bird species, as well as mammals, which can be shot legally. For many there is a close season when it is illegal to shoot them, and this helps to ensure that they are able to breed successfully and move between breeding and wintering grounds. The bird quarry species and their open seasons in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are shown below.

Gamebird and Waterfowl Open Seasons (dates inclusive)

Species England and Wales Scotland Northern Ireland Isle of Man
Pheasant Oct 1 – Feb 1 Oct 1 – Feb 1 Oct 1 – Jan 31 Oct 1 – Jan 31
Grey Partridge Sep 1 – Feb 1 Sep 1 – Feb 1 Sep 1- Jan 31 Protected
(ban in force)
Red-legged Partridge Sep 1 – Feb 1 Sep 1 – Feb 1 Sep 1- Jan 31 Sep 13 – Jan 31
Red Grouse Aug 12 – Dec 10 Aug 12 – Dec 10 Aug 12 – Nov 30 Aug 25 – Oct 31 *
Black Grouse Aug 20 – Dec 10 (Somerset, Devon and New Forest: Sep 1 – Dec 10) Aug 20 – Dec 10
Ptarmigan Aug 12 – Dec 10
Duck & Goose
inland
Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 – DucksJuly 1 – Mar 31 – Geese**
Duck & Goose
below HWM (see below)
Sep 1 – Feb 20 Sep 1 – Feb 20 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31- Ducks
Jul 1 – Mar 31 – Geese **
Common Snipe Aug 12 – Jan 31 Aug 12 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31
Jack Snipe Protected Protected Sep 1 – Jan 31 Protected
Woodcock Oct 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Oct 1 – Jan 31 Oct 1 – Jan 31
Golden Plover Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Protected
Coot/Moorhen Sep 1 – Jan 31 Sep 1 – Jan 31 Protected Protected

HWM – High water mark:

England and Wales: The area of sea shore which is more often than not covered by the flux and reflux of the four ordinary tides occurring midway between springs and neaps.

Scotland: Area between high and low water marks of ordinary spring tides

Northern Ireland: The limit of where the living seaweed is attached to the stones of the foreshore.

Isle of Man: * Currently a voluntary ban on shooting red grouse is in place. ** Geese can only be shot under general licence under the Wildlife Act 1990. See the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) website for terms and conditions of general licences http://www.gov.im/categories/the-environment-and-greener-living/wildlife/

Shooting in the Channel Islands

Guernsey

1. The close season for game (rabbit only) runs from Mar 1 until the Sep 30 inclusive. Owners/occupiers of land can kill game on their land at any time of year. Additionally, any person who has, in their possession, written permission from the owner/occupier of land may hunt or kill rabbits on that land at any time of year (Island of Guernsey, Ordinance of the States XXXII 1994 – The Protection of Game Ordinance 1994).

2. The open season for birds (pheasant, partridge, snipe, woodcock and collared dove) runs from Oct 1 to Jan 31.

3. Woodpigeon may be taken at any time under The Protection of Wild Birds Ordinance 1949.

Jersey

1. In Jersey there are no game seasons and gamebirds can only be shot under licence for the protection of agriculture. All wild birds are protected with the exception of carrion crow, magpie, feral pigeon and woodpigeon which may be shot under licence. However the Minister for Planning and Environment may license any person to do anything which would otherwise constitute an offence against wildlife (Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 Article 16(1) as amended).

2. In Jersey it is illegal to release or allow to escape into the wild any pheasant, red-legged partridge or grey partridge except under licence (Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 Article 15(1)(b) and (3)).

Waterfowl Species which can be shot

(For information on the use of non-lead shot for waterfowl please see specific technical information from BASC Research Team or Country Offices)

England, Wales & Scotland

The species that can be shot during their open season are (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981):

Duck Gadwall Goldeneye Mallard Pintail
Pochard Shoveler Teal Tufted duck
Wigeon
Goose Canada* Greylag Pink-footed White-fronted**(England and Wales only)
Wader Golden plover Common snipe Woodcock
Other Coot Moorhen

*Canada geese

This species can be shot throughout the year (i.e. during the close season) in England, Wales and Scotland only under the terms and conditions of specific general licences. Click here to find out more.

**White-fronted geese

There are two races: European white-fronted goose, which can be shot throughout England and Wales, and the Greenland white-fronted goose, wintering mainly on the west coast of Wales. The latter is part of a declining population which is expected shortly to receive full statutory protection but, in the meantime, continues to be subject to a voluntary no-shooting moratorium by BASC-affiliated clubs.

Northern Ireland

The species that can be shot during their open season (Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985) are:

Duck Gadwall Goldeneye Mallard Pintail
Pochard Ruddy Duck Scaup Shoveler
Teal Tufted Duck Wigeon
Goose Canada Greylag Pink-footed
Wader Common snipe Jack snipe Golden plover Woodcock

Isle of Man

The following species can be shot during the open season (Wildlife Act 1990)

Duck Mallard Teal Wigeon
Goose * Canada Greylag
Wader Common snipe Woodcock

* The geese listed can only be shot during the open season as specified on the general licence. See the DAFF website for the terms and conditions of general licences http://www.gov.im/categories/the-environment-and-greener-living/wildlife/

Guernsey

The shooting of ducks and geese is not permitted.

Jersey

The shooting of ducks and geese is not permitted

Ground Game Open Seasons (dates inclusive)

Species England & Wales Scotland Northern Ireland Isle of Man
Brown Hare Jan 1 – Dec 31
moorland & unenclosed land is subject to a close season (see below)
Open season Oct 1 – Jan 31 Aug 12 – Jan 31* Brown or common hare
Oct 1 – Jan 31
Mountain Hare Open season Aug 1 – Feb 28/29
Rabbit Jan 1 – Dec 31
moorland & unenclosed land is subject to a close season (see below)
Jan 1 – Dec 31
moorland & unenclosed land is subject to a close season (see below)
Rabbit is classed as a pest and therefore not subject to a close season No close season

* The Special Protection Order previously issued to give Irish hare additional protection is no longer in place and therefore the Irish Hare is now subject to an open season as above.

Moorland and unenclosed land does not include arable land or detached portions of land less than 25 acres which adjoins arable land.

In England and Wales occupiers or authorised persons may only take and kill ground game on moorland or unenclosed land between 1 September and 31 March inclusive. Firearms may only be used for such purposes between 11 December and 31 March (Ground Game Act 1880 Section 1 (3) and Ground Game (Amendment) Act 1906 Section 2)

In Scotland, the occupier of the land or persons authorised by him may kill rabbit throughout the year on moorland and unenclosed land (not being arable) by all legal means other than by shooting, and by means of firearms over the period from 1 July to 31 March inclusive (Section 1 (3) of the Ground Game Act 1880 as modified by the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948). Hares are subject to a close season (Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011) (see above).

Game Licences

Game licences to kill or take game are not required in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. However, in Scotland, a venison dealer’s licence is still required for those wishing to deal in venison although deer stalkers can sell their venison direct to a venison dealer without the need for a licence.

On the Isle of Man a game licence is required in order to shoot game and is available from the Treasury Office. Game is defined as pheasant, partridge, grouse or moor game and hare (brown or common). A game dealer’s licence is also required for those wishing to deal in game.

There is no requirement for a game licence on Guernsey but you must hold an appropriate firearm or shotgun certificate.

In Jersey there are no game seasons and therefore a game licence is not required.

Sunday and Christmas Day Shooting

England and Wales

No game may be killed or taken in any county on Sunday or Christmas Day. Game for the purposes of this section means pheasant, partridge, red grouse, black grouse and hare.

Orders prohibiting the shooting of wildfowl on Sundays made under sections 2 and 13 of the Protection of Birds Act 1954 still in existence are in the following counties (or parts of counties in existence before the 1974 local authority re-organisation): Anglesey, Brecknock, Caernarvon, Carmarthen, Cardigan, Cornwall, Denbigh, Devon, Doncaster, Glamorgan, Great Yarmouth County Borough, Isle of Ely, Leeds County Borough, Merioneth, Norfolk, Pembroke, Somerset, North and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

Scotland

There are no statutory restrictions on the killing of game on Sunday or Christmas Day but it is not customary to do so. The wildfowl species listed may not be shot on Sunday or Christmas Day.

Northern Ireland

It is an offence to kill any wild bird, gamebird or hare on a Sunday. Although there is no restriction on killing any wild bird, gamebird or hare on Christmas Day, provided it does not fall on a Sunday, it is not customary to do so. There is no prohibition on shooting deer on any day during the open season.

Isle of Man

The killing or taking of game is not permitted on Sunday. There are no restrictions on shooting on Christmas Day unless it falls on a Sunday.

Guernsey

Shooting is not permitted on Sunday or Christmas Day.

Jersey

The use of a firearm to kill any wild bird or animal is not permitted on Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas Day unless acting under and in accordance with the terms or conditions of a licence.

Night Shooting

Night is defined as between one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise (except Jersey – see below).

England, Wales and Scotland

The shooting of game at night is not permitted. Ground game (rabbit and hare – which is subject to a close season in Scotland) may be shot at night by an occupier of land or one other person authorised by the occupier, with the permission of the holder of the shooting rights under Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Schedule 7, unless the occupier has the exclusive rights.

Northern Ireland

Night shooting of any wild bird, gamebird, hare or deer is prohibited. Foxes and rabbits may be shot (lamped) at night.

Isle of Man

Night shooting of rabbits is permitted by the use of suppressed firearms or sound moderated shot guns, lamps and dogs. Night shooting of any game, bird or vermin is not permitted under the Game Act 1927.

Guernsey

Night shooting is not permitted.

Jersey

The use of a firearm to kill any wild bird or animal is not permitted between sunset and sunrise on any day unless acting under and in accordance with the terms or conditions of a licence.

Sale of Game

Game for the purposes of this section means pheasant, partridge, red grouse, black grouse and hare.

England and Wales

The sale of game (except hare *) is permitted year-round provided the game was obtained legally during the season relevant to the species.

*Under the Hares Preservation Act 1892 in England and Wales it is illegal to sell or expose for sale, hares or leverets between 1 March and 31 July inclusive. This does not apply to imported hares.

Scotland

The sale of game including hare is permitted year-round provided the game was obtained legally during the season relevant to the species.

Northern Ireland

Game can be sold all year provided it was obtained legally during the season relevant to the species

Isle of Man

It is illegal to sell or offer for sale any game after ten days from the end of the open seasons. Additionally it is illegal to have possession or control of any game 14 days after the end of the respective season unless it was obtained legally and has been frozen or is lawfully imported dead game. Rabbits can be sold all year.

Guernsey

During the close season (1 March – 30 September inclusive) it is illegal to buy or sell any game originating in Guernsey.

Jersey

It is illegal to sell protected wild birds which include pheasants. Rabbits can be sold at any time.

Sale of Dead Wild Birds

England, Wales and Scotland

The sale of the following dead birds is permitted from 1 September to 28 February inclusive.

Mallard Pintail Pochard Shoveler
Teal Tufted duck Wigeon
Common snipe Golden plover Woodcock
Coot
Woodpigeon can be sold dead at any time

Northern Ireland

Only woodpigeon may be sold dead (at all times).

Isle of Man

The following birds may be sold dead from 1 September to 28 February inclusive.

Common snipe Mallard Teal
Wigeon Woodcock

Under the Wildlife Act 1990 the following birds only may be killed under a Wildlife Act licence and sold dead at all times. See the DAFF website for the terms and conditions of general licences http://www.gov.im/categories/the-environment-and-greener-living/wildlife/

Woodpigeon Feral pigeon

Jersey

Carrion Crow Feral pigeon
Magpie Woodpigeon

The following birds are unprotected and therefore can be sold at any time under Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000

Bird Pest Species

Pest birds, such as woodpigeons and corvids, can be controlled all year round for defined purposes (such as protection of crops or wildlife) subject to the terms and conditions of general licences. No one hasto apply for a general licence. The purposes, species of birds and terms and conditions may be different in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. General licences typically are renewed once a year and can change. For that reason BASC maintains an up-to-date guide to general licences on its website.

Click here for information on General Licences

Guernsey

All wild birds are protected with the exception of carrion crow, magpie and woodpigeon which may be shot under licence. Any gull which is found within the boundary of the States Airport or any refuse tip (either in flight or landed) may be lawfully controlled under the authority of the States Board of Administration.

Jersey

All wild birds are protected with the exception of carrion crow, magpie, feral pigeon and woodpigeon which may be shot under licence. However licences may be granted by the Minister under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 Article 16(1) and (2) which would otherwise constitute an offence for the purposes of:

Preventing damage to crops, livestock, foodstuff for livestock, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or other forms of property ,

Public health or public or air safety,

Prevention of the spread of disease

Mammalian pest species

The following mammals can be controlled by legally-approved methods all year in England, Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland

Brown rat Feral cat Fox Grey squirrel Mice *
Mink Rabbit Stoat Weasel (not Northern Ireland)

* All species except common/hazel dormouse

Isle of Man

The following are defined as ‘vermin’ under the Game Act 1882 and can be controlled all year.

(Wild) Cat Blue/mountain hare Rat Stoat

Guernsey

Only the following mammals may be killed by approved methods all year

Feral cat Rabbit Rat

Jersey

Licences may be granted by the Minister under the Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 Article 16(1) and (2) which would otherwise constitute an offence for the purposes of:

Preventing damage to crops, livestock, foodstuff for livestock, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or other forms of property ,

Public health or public or air safety,

Prevention of the spread of disease

Statutory OPEN Seasons for Deer (all dates inclusive)

Species and Sex England & Wales Scotland Northern Ireland
Red
Stags Aug 1st – April 30th July 1st – Oct 20th Aug 1st – April 30th
Hinds Nov 1st – Mar 31 Oct 21st – Feb 15th Nov 1st – Mar 31
Sika
Stags Aug 1st – April 30th July 1st – Oct 20th Aug 1st – April 30th
Hinds Nov 1st – Mar 31st Oct 21st – Feb 15th Nov 1st – Mar 31st
Red/Sika hybrids
Stags Aug 1st – April 30th July 1st – Oct 20th Aug 1st – April 30th
Hinds Nov 1st – Mar 31st Oct 21st – Feb 15th Nov 1st – Mar 31st
Fallow
Bucks Aug 1st – April 30th Aug 1st – April 30th Aug 1st – April 30th
Does Nov 1st – Mar 31st Oct 21st – Feb 15th Nov 1st – Mar 31st
Roe
Bucks April 1st – Oct 31st April 1st – Oct 20th
Does Nov 1st – Mar 31st Oct 21st – March 31st
Chinese Water deer
Bucks Nov 1st – Mar 31st
Does Nov 1st – Mar 31st
Muntjac
There is no statutory closed season for this species. It is recommended that when culling female muntjac, immature or heavily pregnant does are selected to avoid leaving dependent young.

The latest best practice guides on deer can be downloaded free of charge from the Deer Initiative.

Wild Boar

As wild boar can have a prolonged breeding season, at the moment there is no statutory close season. Shooting is the recommended method of control but best practice recommends avoiding killing sows with dependent young.

The latest best practice guides on wild boar can be downloaded by clicking here.

Prohibited Methods of Taking/Killing Wildlife (including game)

The following is an Aide Memoire on the prohibited methods for killing or taking wildlife, based on the combined legislation from all the Acts listed here.

***THE ONUS IS ON THE PERSON CARRYING OUT THE ACTION TO ENSURE THEY ARE COMPLYING WITH THE RELEVANT LEGISLATION***

(click on the links below to connect to the relevant Act).

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended in 2011), Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended in 2011) & the Isle of Man Wildlife Act 1990 and Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000 the following are prohibited methods of killing or taking wildlife:

All wild birds

It is illegal to use;

  • Any spring(e), trap, gin, snare, any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening, or any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance (or hook and line or muscle-relaxing agent – Northern Ireland only) so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird
  • Any net, any baited board, bird-lime or substance of a like nature to bird-lime
  • Any bow or crossbow
  • Any missile which is not discharged from a firearm including any arrow or spear (Northern Ireland only),
  • Any metal bar, axe, hatchet, cudgel, club, hammer or similar instrument (Northern Ireland only)
  • Any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm.
  • Any automatic or semi-automatic weapon against any bird except the Bird Pest Species listed on the general licences. (The use of any automatic or semi-automatic weapons is prohibited in Northern Ireland for any bird or animal)
  • Any shotgun where the barrel has an internal diameter at the muzzle of more than 1¾ inches
  • Any device for illuminating a target or sighting device for night shooting or any form of artificial light or any mirror or other dazzling device
  • Any gas or smoke not covered any where else in this section, any chemical or wetting agent
  • Any sound recording (see note below)
  • Any live animal or bird as a decoy which is tethered, secured by braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured.
  • Any mechanically-propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of birds for the purpose of killing or taking.

Any wild mammal (animals (NI))

It is illegal to use;

  • Any self-locking snare
  • Any bow or crossbow
  • Any missile which is not discharged from a firearm including any arrow or spear (Northern Ireland only),
  • Any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm.
  • Any live bird or mammal as a decoy
  • Any sound recording (Northern Ireland only – see note below)

Mammals/animals (with special protection)

(For the purposes of the following section mammals/animals means: schedule 6 mammals Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended in 2011), schedule 6 wild animals Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended in 2011) & schedule 6 mammals Wildlife Act 1990 (Isle of Man) and schedule 3 mammals Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000)

It is illegal to use;

  • Any trap, snare, any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening, or any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance (or hook and line, gin, muscle-relaxing agent – Northern Ireland only) so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury
  • Any net
  • Any metal bar, axe, hatchet, cudgel, club, hammer or similar instrument (Northern Ireland only)
  • Any automatic or semi-automatic weapon, any device for illuminating a target or sighting device for night shooting, any form of artificial lighting, mirror or other dazzling device or any gas or smoke not covered anywhere else in this section.
  • Any sound recording (see note below)
  • Any mechanically-propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of mammals for the purpose of killing or taking (or driving that animal – NI only).

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended in 2011),

Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended in 2011)

Conservation of Wildlife (Jersey) Law 2000

Wildlife Act 1990

“Firearm” includes shotguns

“Automatic weapon” and “semi-automatic weapon” means any weapon which is capable of holding more than two rounds in the magazine

“Illuminating device” may include laser-type sighting devices

“Sound recording” is likely to include sounds made by digital or electronic devices.

Please note additional legislation applies specifically to deer, further information is available from the BASC Game and Deer Management team on 01244 573019 or from the BASC regional and country offices.

 

Amended: December 2013

 

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