BASC is fully prepared to engage in a Defra review on the way in which the release of gamebirds on or near protected sites in England is managed following a proposed legal challenge.

Defra has said this will not result in any immediate changes for owners or occupiers of land.

Ian Danby, BASC’s head of biodiversity, said: “The impacts of pheasants and red-legged partridge have been well-researched already.

“When shoots follow the guidance in the Code of Good Shooting Practice, which is based on this research, we see benefits to the environment and the wildlife that lives there. It is the responsibility of the shooting community to make sure they do this if we are to enjoy the privilege of releasing game birds.

“If government agencies have concerns about a specific release of pheasant or partridge on or near to these protected sites they already have all the legislative tools required to intervene.

“BASC will work with our members and other countryside organisations when engaging with this review which we are confident will return the verdict that game bird releasing to the standards set down in the code are environmentally responsible and to society’s benefit.”

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and gundogs, said: “Evidence of the benefits of shooting to conservation and the wider environment is well-documented.

The Code of Good Shooting Practice, which sets out the framework for sustainable shooting, includes reference to Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust research which sets out figures for sustainable game bird releasing that do not damage the environment.

“In fact, without driven shooting the rural environment, communities and our economy, would actually be significantly poorer.”

A Defra press release states: “The legislative regime surrounding gamebird releases will remain unchanged in the immediate term and there will be no impact on the industry. The industry will be kept informed of progress with the review in due course.”

The detail of the review will be developed over the coming weeks.

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