The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) says the RSPB risks driving a divide between the charity and rural Britain.

During its AGM today, the RSPB announced the results of its year-long review of its policy on gamebird shooting and said it is considering calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting and regulation of gamebird shooting.

It said it will demand a ban on driven grouse shooting if it sees ‘no progress’ at the end of a five-year review. It will also seek regulation of gamebird shooting within 18 months if there is not a reduction in the number of gamebirds released and ‘full compliance with the law”.

Ian Bell, chief executive of BASC, said: “The RSPB risks driving a divide between the charity and rural Britain.

“Its announcement today is based on a misunderstanding of shooting in the UK and the progress that has been made in self-regulation.”

BASC says the charity has largely ignored significant evidence which supports the benefits of shooting to the UK’s biodiversity, although BASC acknowledges the charity’s request today to work closer with the association and other rural organisations.

Mr Bell added: “BASC has always sought to co-operate with the RSPB for the benefit of conservation and we still firmly believe that dialogue and working together produce better results than conflict. But the RSPB must not ignore the significant biodiversity benefits that shooting achieves. 

“Shooting has evolved and made significant improvements that positively influence the UK’s wildlife and environment. It is important that the RSPB recognises the work that has taken place and the continued desire within the shooting community for further improvement.

“No-one in shooting wants to see environmentally-damaging practices. And the RSPB needs to acknowledge that, rather than damaging its relationship with a key conservation community.”

Related news: Countryside organisations urge Government to back new ‘blueprint’ for future of shooting.

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