Putting UK gamebird numbers in context
Here is another paragraph from the Wild Justice witness statement supporting our legal challenge;
The scale of gamebird releases is a particularly UK issue. When measured in spring (standard practice for bird populations) the breeding populations of Pheasant in the UK (ie those birds which have survived the shooting season, and the winter to breed in the spring before further massive releases in the summer) comprise about a half of the whole European population. Other countries have Pheasant shooting but they do not release such vast numbers of farmed birds into the countryside a few weeks before the shooting season as we do in the UK. The Netherlands banned almost all gamebird and game shooting in 2002 on a mixture of animal welfare and conservation grounds.
Or to put that a different way, the UK has 50% of the European population of this non-native bird whilst occupying only 2% of the land area of the continent.
And to put it yet another way, if the UK had the same density of Pheasants as the rest of the Europe then our population would be 1/50th of the current level.
DEFRA has ignored the ecological threat to UK wildlife for far too long and now needs to take urgent steps to assess the impacts on our wildlife.