For centuries game birds such as pheasant and partridge have been imported or bred in the uk and then each year released in their millions for people to shoot for sport.
Now shooting estates will need a license to release birds on any estate near nature reserves.
At the moment around 60 million birds are released each year. it is thought that this new rule will reduce numbers by around 7.5 million.
Pheasants each native vegetation, insects and reptiles, as well as damaging the makeup of the soil with their droppings. they also increase the populations of foxes and other scavengers to unhealthy levels, and these then also feast on other wildlife.
Not surprisingly, the shooting interests have been highly critical. However shooting estates, have long claimed environmental benefits of their operations, and often paid for these by government bodies such as DEFRA. Ending this travesty and making these groups truly be good for our ecosystems are log overdue.
One of the big arguments is that lead ammunition must be banned anywhere near reserves. It is telling that a parliamentary group for shooting and conservation, was merely concerned that this doesn’t damage the shooting industry. Clearly, this body should first loose its conservation credentials and secondly despite demanding an evidence based rule for any changes, perhaps we could demand similar standards for current practices. We must force shooting estates to serve the environment as well as the wealthy small part of the British population that actually pays for their services.