Support our Nation today - please donate here

Campaigners warn licensing scheme to regulate release of gamebirds is ‘a threat to rural livelihoods’

27 Mar 2023 3 minute read
A pheasant shoot.

Rural campaigners have criticised proposals for the introduction of a licensing scheme to regulate the release of gamebirds in Wales.

National Resources Wales (NRW) has launched a 12-week public consultation on the plans following concerns over potential environmental impacts from these releases, particularly to protected sites.

In a statement announcing the consultation NRW said: “The available evidence shows that management activities carried out by the game shooting sector can deliver benefits for biodiversity” but adds that “the release of gamebirds can also lead to harm, particularly where they happen in sensitive locations or at unsustainable levels.”

The statement also asserts that the plans are “not a consultation on whether or not shooting live quarry should continue to be allowed in Wales.”

But the Countryside Alliance claims the scheme poses “a threat to rural livelihoods” and biodiversity and could lead to a ban on game shooting.

The organisation says that if the licensing system for the release of pheasants and red-legged partridge in Wales is introduced, it would give “an anti-shooting Welsh Government the power to shut down game shooting in Wales.


Rachel Evans, director of Countryside Alliance Wales said: “The consultation sadly seems to have a predetermined outcome, and that regardless of the evidence the Minister is determined to see all shoots in Wales licensed, ignoring the fundamental question of whether licensing is either necessary or proportionate.

“It is vital the Welsh Government await the full evidence from the consultation, before taking any firm policy decisions which could have a catastrophic impact on the livelihoods of rural workers and the rural economy, biodiversity, and the Welsh Government’s own sustainability goals”.

NRW says it proposals consider its duties towards protected sites as well as to species and habitats protected under Welsh legislation, particularly those listed under section 7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 as “being of principal importance to the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity in Wales.”

It has advised Welsh Ministers to take the necessary steps to add common pheasant and red-legged partridge to lists of non-native species that are already established in the wild, but which may pose a conservation threat to native biodiversity and habitats.

This would mean that any release of those species in Wales would need to be carried out under a licence issued by NRW.

General licence

The proposals are for gamebird releases that are 500m or more from a sensitive SSSI or European protected site and follow widely accepted good practice to be permitted under the terms of a general licence, which follows the Game and Wildlife Trust’s Guidelines for Sustainable Gamebird Releasing.

Releases within sensitive protected sites, or within 500m of their boundaries, will need a specific licence from NRW. Specific licences must be applied for, are given individual consideration by NRW, and applicants for specific licences will be asked to demonstrate how they will ensure their releases will not harm the environment, and ideally provide benefits for biodiversity.

NRW is also proposing to identify protected sites where gamebird releases would be highly unlikely to have an impact on any of the designated features, with the general licence available to use in these sites.

The licensing scheme could be introduced for the for the 2024-25 shooting season.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

NRW should be cleaning up our filthy rivers rather than wasting resources on non existent problems.
Wales salmon and sewin are on the verge of extinction and useless NRW is doing nothing to halt the decline.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

No mention of the danger to road safety due to low flying pheasants or the road littered with the corpses of so many birds…

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I am not sure that the right wing dominated Countryside Alliance is a good source for advice. They wish to continue the old Colonial Tradition of the Natives, on starvation wages, breeding birds for the Wealthy Colonials to come in and shoot at. Whilst that model does provide rural employment, so did the Normal Feudal System. However, do we really want to preserve that model of exploitation? With Climate Breakdown it might be sensible to re-conisder how the landscape is used and how to provide income for rural populations whilst re-generating nature.

Holly T
Holly T
1 year ago

I used to live on a veg farm. Our neighbours ran a pheasant shoot. It was awful, shooting nearly every Saturday, sometimes bullets came onto our farm! Someone could have been hurt. Plus the pheasants would eat our veg.
Not all rural business want pheasant shoots. Countryside Alliance doesn’t speak for us all.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.