At the RSPB’s AGM in 2019, our Chair of Council, Kevin Cox, announced that the RSPB was reviewing its policy on the most intensive forms of gamebird 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.
We are very keen to provide regular updates on this review and today, I report the results of the first phase which involved a consultation of our members, volunteers, staff and other stakeholders.
It is worth remembering that we are doing the review because there is growing public concern and mounting scientific evidence about the environmental impacts of these types of shooting. 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 (hopefully now consigned to the history books after last month’s vote in the Scottish Parliament to give mountain hare greater protection); the use of lead ammunition; the impact of burning peatlands and medicating wild animals for shooting.
Results of the consultations
As I reported in May*, through the various consultations we ran we received views from:
(* figures updated to reflect final response numbers)
The headline findings are as follows:
For those of you that would like to find out more, please do look at:
These are posted at the bottom of this blog.
Thanks again to all of you that took the time to share your views. The views gathered through this consultation are already helping RSPB trustees refine our nature conservation principles for gamebird shooting and associated land management.
What happens next?
We are currently finalising the scientific reviews of the evidence of impacts from the two most intensive forms of shooting (driven grouse and high density gamebird releases). This will help us 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.
And to avoid any doubt, while this review is being conducted we shall continue to call for the introduction of a system of licensing for driven grouse shooting, a ban on burning on peatlands and an end to the illegal killing of birds of prey.
Images courtesy of Ben Andrew (pheasant and red grouse) and Andy Hay (red-legged partridge) all on rspb-images.com
6366.7288.RSPB Members Infographic.pdf
2671.6874.RSPB External Consultation - Exec summary.pdf
7206.5270.RSPB shooting community engagement (confidential interviews) - Exec Summary.pdf
Alex - you'll note from the external consultation that we engaged a wide range of organisations including those that advocate a ban. The confidential interviews were designed to get a broader understanding of views from those within the shooting community beyond that which may be represented by the formal shooting representative bodies. I hope that helps.
I note the document "Engagement with the shooting community". I do not see a comparable document regarding engagement with those who would ban driven grouse shooting and a major reduction in the release of non-native game-birds. Does this exist to inform the members and Council?
You do realise that the extreme right wing magazine, The Spectator, destroyed your propaganda about the "value" of the shooting industry? That the editor of the Shooting Times has also debunked your arguments.
The peatlands are generally well managed but in the case of shooting estates it can be indiscriminate and peat moorlands collect more carbon dioxide than trees.
The info graphic shows that the membership is overwhelmingly lowland urban dwellers who should be mindful of the impact of their concerns on upland rural communities whose employment and housing may be dependent on landowners and shooting. That said there is no excuse for the unlawful killing of protected species that will have a negligible effect on game bird numbers. Education and robust policing with high fines or licence removal for those shoots who fail to comply is needed. This also applies to hare shooting. All truly sustainable hunting depends on a small bag policy but small shoots often rely on selling some birds for table via local butchers, pubs and restaurants. Personally I would much rather eat a bird that has a “normal “ life than the intensively reared existence suffered by much mass produced poultry. Blanket medication is concerning. Is it really necessary or could changes to chick rearing be introduced to negate this? Peatland is an increasing rare habitat and should be protected and managed efficiently. Large areas of privately owned heather moorland could be left to rewind without management for shooting. I find this perfectly acceptable but am also aware that the landscape as we know will change a lot as a result.
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