Significant grant awarded to save curlew from local extinction

The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) has agreed a £75,000 grant to help restore the breeding curlew population in Southern England. The grant has been awarded to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s (WWT) ‘Combating the Curlew Crisis Project’, which forms part of the WWT’s overall Eurasian curlew recovery work. This project focuses on securing the breeding population in the Severn and Avon Vales. The aim is to see the curlew’s local breeding population increase to 50 pairs in five years’ time. The money will cover funds for a project officer to provide engagement with local communities including farmers and land managers, and the monitoring of released birds.   The WHCT, set up by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) in 1992, provides grants to help support and maintain Special Protections Areas and undertake research for the public benefit in the conservation of wildlife. Paul Williamson, secretary of the WHCT, said: “The plight of the curlew in Southern England is well documented, without the necessary help they could easily become extinct. This project will not only counter the decline in the region, but the lessons learnt will help provide a model to protect the species nationally. “Our support and belief in this project has led us to award the WWT with the one of the largest grants ever given by the Trust, and we are excited to see it progress.” Geoff Hilton, Head of Conservation Evidence for WWT, said: “We welcome this grant, along with others, to ensure we can continue our vital work to protect curlews in the Severn and Avon Vales.  “Curlews should be considered the UK's most urgent bird conservation priority. Britain holds a quarter of the world’s curlew breeding population, but the species currently faces regional extinction. This important project sets out to help counteract this threat. By working with local land managers to adapt habitat to help curlew thrive during the breeding season, the project also creates wildlife friendly wetland habitat for a range of species.” ENDS… Notes to Editors: The Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT) provides habitat conservation grant support to national and international projects. The WHCT was set up by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), to be shooting’s conservation charity. For more information on the WHCT please visit: http://www.wht.org.uk/ The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Wetlands are essential for all life, including humankind and yet they are disappearing three times faster than forests. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a conservation charity working to save wetlands globally and in the UK for wildlife, people and our planet.  WWT runs ten reserves across the UK, managing 3000 hectares of the best wetland habitat in the UK, and providing inspirational experiences to encourage people to value wetlands and the amazing wildlife they support.  To find out more visit wwt.org.uk.

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Certificate holders facing firearms licensing ‘postcode lottery’, says BASC

BASC’s fourth annual review of firearms licensing performance shows a wide spectrum of results, ranging from very good to “shockingly dreadful”. BASC’s director of firearms has called for consistency of performance following the publication of the review’s results in the form of a league table and said the figures strongly suggest the solution to the problem is for firearms licensing to be dealt with on a national basis. The association’s firearms team has obtained and analysed figures for firearm (FAC) and shotgun (SGC) certificate grants and renewals and coterminous grants and renewals from individual police forces across England and Wales. Nationally, the best performing forces based on average application processing times in 2020 were Cambridgeshire*, Bedfordshire*, Hertfordshire*, Warwickshire and Thames Valley. The bottom five forces were South Wales, Durham, West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Avon & Somerset. Thames Valley, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Warwickshire showed the greatest improvement in turnaround times in 2020 compared with 2019. The forces with the greatest deterioration in turnaround times were Durham, Northumbria, Northamptonshire, Cumbria and Metropolitan. Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “This current crop of figures reveals a wide spectrum of performance from the very good to the shockingly dreadful. “Certificate holders in England and Wales face a postcode lottery as to the level of service that they will receive. This cannot be right when people pay for a service from the police. Consistency of performance needs to be achieved across the piece. It is interesting that those forces who have combined firearms licensing departments in alliances tend to perform better. This strongly suggests that the solution to the problem is for firearms licensing to be dealt with on a national basis. “The lockdown of recent months has shown that greater efficiencies with modern IT can be achieved. It has shown some forces embracing modern IT and using it for things like online applications and online interviews.  BASC will be pressing for these to remain in place after the pandemic has ended. “BASC is seeking the support of PCC candidates to secure improvement of badly performing firearms licensing departments.” The latest table is based on figures from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020 and uses a traffic light system to show relative performance. Green cells indicate above average performance, while red cells show below average performers. Yellow indicates average performance. Each cell shows the relevant average, recorded in calendar days. The table can be found here: https://basc.org.uk/firearms/firearms-licensing-league-table/ BASC members should contact the firearms team if they have any queries regarding the firearms licensing process. In the run up to the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections on 6 May, BASC’s political team has contacted all candidates to ensure our continuing concerns regarding firearms licensing are recognised. Read more here: https://basc.org.uk/firearms-licensing-issues-raised-with-pcc-candidates/ ENDS Notes to editors: BASC’s research shows the mean average for FAC grants in 2020 was 75 days compared to 61 days in 2019 and 69 days in 2018. SGC grants showed an 81 day average compared to 59 days…

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Northern Ireland wild game import regulations are ‘practically impossible’, says BASC

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is backing efforts by government to challenge rules which make it ‘practically impossible’ to bring game meat into Northern Ireland. Game meat, leaving Great Britain for personal consumption has fallen foul of Brexit, meaning Northern Ireland visitors to Great Britain must comply with regulation to take home their shot quarry. BASC believes the rules will significantly damage shooting tourism between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. BASC’s Northern Ireland director Tommy Mayne said: “These new requirements make it practically impossible for Northern Irish shooters to take home their wild game meat for personal consumption and mean that most if not all hunters will travel home empty handed.  “Thousands of shooters travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain every year and these regulations are wholly disruptive to shooting tourism, overly burdensome and needlessly bureaucratic.” BASC has written to the Norther Ireland’s Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, and he has, in turn, contacted the European Commission. In a written reply to BASC, Minister Poots said: “I have written to the European Commission highlighting the requirements associated with Export Health Certificates (EHC) and requested that consideration be given to mitigations for these rules where possible.” As a result of the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the NI Protocol, the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is required to carry out checks on meat entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, in line with EU law. Anyone wishing to bring dead wild game into Northern Ireland must first have it inspected in Great Britain by an Official Veterinarian who, when satisfied, will issue an EHC. To satisfy the requirement of the EHC, the meat must have been processed in an establishment approved for export to the EU and which is listed on the European Commission website. The EHC must accompany the meat to the Border Control Post (BCP) in Northern Ireland. The BCP must be notified of the intended arrival a minimum of 24 hours in advance and a failure to declare the consignment would be an offence. BASC is also working closely with the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) to raise the issue with the EU Commission. Mr Mayne added: “There are a number of significant issues for the shooting community falling out of Brexit, game meat for personal consumption is just one of them. BASC is fighting these issues at every turn.” ENDS

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BASC responds to Welsh Labour manifesto

BASC's political affairs team are strongly opposing vague and ill-prepared proposals included within the Welsh Labour manifesto.  The party has set out its intentions ahead of Senedd elections on 6 May. The measures outlined in the manifesto, titled ‘Moving Wales forward’, will negatively impact BASC members in Wales and the Welsh shooting community as a whole. What is Welsh Labour proposing? Welsh Labour's manifesto outlines proposals that will introduce registration for animal welfare establishments.  Registration requirements would also apply to shoots and commercial breeders producing dogs for pets or for use in shooting sports.  It also lays out plans to ban the use of snares in Wales.  What is BASC's position on the proposals? The pledges set out within the Welsh Labour manifesto have been included without justification.  BASC is very clear that any policy changes should be evidence-led and be developed through consultation with industry stakeholders. As one of the stakeholder organisations involved in the development of the Welsh Government’s code of best practice on the use of snares, we continue to actively engage with Welsh Government officials to promote compliance with the code.  We are strongly opposed to legal changes to the use of snares, which has been included within the manifesto without any justification. Next steps for BASC  We will continue to engage with all political candidates for the upcoming elections on 6 May and press our objections to Welsh Labour's proposed measures.  It is vital that the contribution that shooting makes to Wales' economy, communities and wildlife is not diluted or underestimated.   Want to read more on our political work in Wales?  Find BASC's Welsh Manifesto for Sustainable Shooting Sports here. Recent news

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BASC bird boxes take flight

From outreach work with schools, to generating cross-party support in parliament, BASC's bird box project continues to go from strength-to-strength.  

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