NRW advises Welsh Government to regulate gamebird releases

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has announced it has provided advice to the Welsh Government to regulate the release of significant numbers of non-native gamebirds for shooting. This regulation is required to help NRW monitor and evaluate the potential environmental impacts of such releases on native flora and fauna as well as on protected sites. NRW’s proposals followed increased regulations introduced for gamebird releases in England after Wild Justice action.

Seven week old pheasant chicks, often known as poults, after just being released into a gamekeepers release pen on an English shooting estate

NRW first announced its proposed measures to add Common Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge to part 1 of Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 earlier this year. Part 1 of Schedule 9 lists 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.

NRW then held a public consultation over the summer and has now reviewed those consultation responses and has reiterated its advice to Ministers that these two species should be added to Schedule 9 so that any releases should then be licensed, either by a General Licence or by an individual licence when releases are on or close to protected sites.

If Ministers accept NRW’s advice, the new regulations are expected to be in place for the 2025/26 shooting season.

Here is a copy of NRW’s advice to the Welsh Government, published yesterday (8 November 2023):