The consultation phase of the review of the RSPB’s policy on gamebird shooting has ended, so I thought it would be timely to provide an update of progress. 

As you may recall, we are doing the review because there is growing public concern and mounting scientific evidence about the environmental impacts of the most intensive form of shooting especially driven grouse moor management (which involves shooting our native red grouse) and large-scale release of non-native game birds, primarily pheasants and red-legged partridges, now in excess of 57 million birds annually.

Impacts include the ongoing and systematic illegal persecution of birds of prey such as hen harriers; the ecological impact of high numbers of game birds released into the countryside which may increase the density of generalist predators; the mass culling of mountain hares in some parts of our uplands; the use of lead ammunition; the impact of burning peatlands and medicating wild animals for shooting.

We are conducting the review in three phases.  Through the opening consultation phase, we received views on gamebird shooting and associated land management from:

  • a randomised sample of 5,265 RSPB members
  • an additional 663 RSPB members
  • 2,847 RSPB staff and volunteers
  • more than 20 organisations or groups with an interest in nature conservation, animal welfare, land management and gamebird shootings
  • 50 individuals through some confidential conversations

We are extremely grateful to all those who took the time to share their views.  The views gathered through this consultation will guide the development of nature conservation principles for gamebird shooting and associated land management to be approved by our Council this summer.

The second phase involves completing scientific reviews of the evidence of impacts from the two most intensive forms of shooting (driven grouse and high density gamebird releases) to help assess these shooting styles against the conservation principles.

The final phase involves reviewing the RSPB’s existing policy on driven grouse shooting and developing a new position on gamebird releases.

We plan to announce the results of this review of our policy at the AGM in October.

While this review continues, we are exploring ways to share preliminary thinking with those who have taken part in the consultation and I shall say more about this later in the Spring.

For now though, thanks again to all of you that have contributed your views.