BASC says the latest attack by Wild Justice on shooting is a vexatious attempt to pressure the government into rushing a decision on the legality of gamebird releasing.
Wild Justice has renewed its challenge on releasing gamebirds on Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPA) in England by sending Defra a formal letter before action.
The letter also calls for a ban on the release of gamebirds within 5 kilometres of any SAC or SPA.
Last autumn, Defra responded to the initial challenge by Wild Justice by insisting there would be no change to the legislation around gamebird release and said details of a review would be published ‘in due course’.
BASC previously instructed lawyers to register the association as an ‘interested party’ in any future legal challenge around the release of gamebirds by Wild Justice.
As the UK’s largest shooting organisation, BASC has today repeated that pledge to fight any legal action and to continue briefing supportive MPs and Peers so that they can garner their own assurances from Defra.
Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation, said: “Our members and the wider shooting community should not be panicked by this latest cynical action by Wild Justice.
“Defra responded accordingly to the original action and BASC was among a number of shooting organisations that said the challenge was deeply flawed. In doing so we offered the government our support in defence of this proposed challenge. That original position by Defra is a sensible and pragmatic one and they should be given the time and space to do their work.
“This is another direct attack on shooting by Wild Justice, but as long as Defra acts responsibly there should be no cause for concern within the shooting community. Since the original letter BASC and other rural organisations have been working closely with Defra to find a solution.
“This is a short-sighted attack that risks causing long-term damage to environmental protections afforded by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. The government should not have to be deviating from its work to mitigate vexatious actions by anti-conservation organisations.”