On European Protected Sites the release of common pheasants is set at no more than 700 birds per hectare of release pen. Red-legged partridges are set at no more than 700 birds per hectare of land they inhabit. In both cases, if the figure set by any SSSI consent is lower, then you need to adhere to this lower limit.
Additionally, for red-legged partridge, release pens must be sited in cover crops, on arable land or on improved grassland and not in semi-natural or unimproved habitats.
In the buffer zone the release figures are a maximum of 1,000 pheasants per hectare of release pen and maximum for red-legged partridges of no more than 1,000 birds per hectare of land they inhabit. There is also a condition that ‘Any activity in the buffer zone must not encourage the released birds to inhabit or occupy an adjacent European site…’.
Further in relation to both the European sites and buffer zones there are requirements that any release including single, or trickle releases does not exceed these limits. There is also wording stating that when birds are ‘…shot or killed, you must not release further birds where this would exceed the allowed limit’.
This does not mean that the Government are encouraging individuals to release additional birds once some have been shot (or topping up as it is sometimes called), it is to clarify the maximum number which can be released under the general licence. BASC and other organisations are absolutely opposed to any such activity and it is one of the five golden rules in the Code of Good Shooting Practice that ‘Birds must never be released to replenish or replace any birds already released and shot in that season’.