These are unprecedented times, and with national lockdown in England expected to continue beyond the end of the game shooting season, a different approach to the final weeks of this season will be required.
- Shoots may decide to continue to harvest game to meet the requirements of game dealers and other outlets that need birds to supply to market (although this must not be done through driven or other forms of recreational shooting). Shoots should regularly liaise with their game dealer or other outlet to ensure supply chains are met and that their actions comply with legal requirements including relevant Covid regulations
- Shoots which normally catch up in the latter part of the season may opt to catch up birds earlier. Catching up in England is as much ‘taking’ in the legal sense as shooting, and this must therefore be done in season, with Monday February 1 being the last day on which shoots can do so for pheasant and partridge. Shoots should discuss this option with their game-farmer before doing so and must comply with the requirements within the Avian Influenza Protection Zone currently in force across England (further information here.)
- Depending upon size and location, some shoots may decide to keep a higher density of pheasants unharvested into the spring, with a view to helping enhance or establish the population for the following season. This approach would require additional consideration such as increased spring feeding sites (there should always be sufficient feeding of any birds at the end of the shooting season until there is sufficient natural feed), management of birds around spring sown crops and an increased emphasis on predator control and habitat management such as cover crops for brood rearing.
- Shoots should continue to follow the requirements of the Code of Good Shooting Practice and, if members, comply with the relevant standards of the British Game Alliance.