The Common Pheasant has become ubiquitous. They are everywhere, walking around fields or lying dead by the side of the road, painted on signs and cards or hanging by the throat in shop windows. Remarkably though, pheasants aren’t native to the UK: they’re introduced. Their original range was predominantly China and western Asia – they’re only here, and here in staggering numbers, because some people like to shoot them.
Charlie Moores spoke with renowned conservationist, author and birdwatcher Dr Mark Avery on the publication of an article he’s written for the prestigious monthly journal British Birds titled ‘The Common Pheasant – its status in the UK and the potential impacts of an abundant non-native’. In their discussion they cover a wide range of the issues that Mark raised in his article – from pheasant ecology to predators, lead shot and Lyme’s Disease – but Charlie began by asking him, just how many pheasants are there in the UK…?
“…the bodymass of all those pheasants…when you add them together, is the same of all the other birds in Britain put together…”
Dr Mark Avery | The Common Pheasant (impacts of a non-native bird)
Dr Mark Avery’s article, ‘The Common Pheasant – its status in the UK and the potential impacts of an abundant non-native’ can be found in the July 2019 issue of British Birds, the monthly journal for all keen birdwatchers. BB as its affectionately known has an excellent website which you can find at /britishbirds.co.uk. Mark’s equally excellent website, which includes his must-read blog, is at markavery.info. He is also a founder member and director of Wild Justice, which – in a neat knot that ties this particular package together – recently took Natural England to court over the General Licence, which – illegally as it turned out – allowed for the ‘control’ of some bird species – including those that gamekeepers and the shooting industry claim threaten their…pheasants.