Wild Justice granted permission to challenge annual mass ‘gamebird’ release

This one is going to cause ructions in baronial halls and shooting estate managers offices up and down the land – an application by our favourite crime-fighting trio of Dr Mark Avery, Dr Ruth Tingay, and Chris Packham (aka Wild Justice) for a judicial review of the impacts of vast releases of non-native gamebirds on sites of high nature conservation importance has just been granted.

For a very detailed look at what Wild Justice (WJ) has previously called ‘shooting’s ecological assault‘ go to their blog and the post ‘Pheasants Everywhere‘, but – if you’re short of time – essentially WJ are saying that by not assessing the impact of shooting’s release every year of 50 million+ pheasants and red-legged partridges on sites of high nature conservation importance, the UK has unlawfully failed to implement the Habitats Directive which protects those sites. And if you’re new to this, that 50 million+ figure is not ours or Wild Justice’s but comes from the shooting industry itself. That’s right, every year over 50 million pheasants and red-legged partridges – neither of which are native to the UK and are mostly shipped here from breeding factories in Europe – are let into the countryside simply to be shot, and no-one in government has ever thought to ask whether all those birds might be having a negative effect on protected wildlife and habitats.

Which they should really have done, but then government hasn’t really ever asked very many questions of the shooting industry…you have to wonder if they wish they’d been paying a little more attention now though.


Wild Justice sent out the following press-release this afternoon:

We heard this morning that Wild Justice’s application for judicial review of the impacts of vast releases of non-native gamebirds on sites of high nature conservation importance has been granted.

Thank you the Hon Mr Justice Kerr!  

This means that after scrutiny by a Judge, it has been decided that there is a substantive case to answer, and that case should be made in court (by the end of October 2020).  We have, after quite a long wait, got everything we could ask for at this stage.  

We may win in court, or we may not, but there is no doubt that there is a case to answer. If we were to be successful then this would have big impacts on Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge shooting in 2021.  We asked the court for a hearing this autumn so that any implications of the eventual judgment would be known long before gamebird shoots were making plans for ordering imports of birds for 2021.  

Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay).

Excerpt, Wild Justice news


Interestingly, Wild Justice posted a part-photocopy of the decision made by the courts. Have a look at the opposing line-up, which is presumably putting the case FOR allowing millions and millions of non-native birds into our stressed countryside so they can either shoot them or make money from shooting them. The line-up which – if they’re taking the opposite view – must be saying something along the lines that there is no problem with allowing such huge numbers of non-native birds into the countryside that they actually outweigh the TOTAL biomass of every other bird in the country? That finding out whether all those birds are having an impact on some of our most precious sites isn’t as important as allowing the guns to keep firing?



But that can’t be the case, can it, because almost every single one of those organisations have professed on multiple occasions to be ‘conservationists’ – so surely they would want to find out just what damage the ‘industry’ might be doing to important conservation sites as well? I suppose we’ll all have to wait to see exactly what it is they’re fighting for in court…but if it’s for ‘business as usual’ that isn’t going to look very good, is it.