Woodcock survey shows decline still in place

The results of a British Trust for Ornithology/Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust national survey of Woodcock numbers have just been released – click here.

There were increases in some regions since the last national survey in 2013, but also some big falls in other areas. Overall the British population has declined further in the last decade and has declined by 35% since 2003. Here is a map showing the declines:


Wild Justice initiated and promoted a UK Parliament petition calling for a change, in fact a shortening, of the Woodcock shooting season because the current dates (from 1 September in Scotland, from 1 October in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) allow shooting at times of year when the main targets must be British breeding birds, because the influx of European, and indeed Asian, Woodcock does not occur until late November/December. See previous blogs on this subject click here, click here, click here.

We don’t think that shooting pressure is the main cause of Woodcock declines, but nor do we think it can be ruled out as a factor.

We have seen no progress from any UK administration on changing the shooting season dates, even though a review was promised and the change does not require parliamentary time and so is administratively quick and easy. We believe the review has taken place in England and we believe that a shortening of the shooting season has been recommended but that ministers in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are sitting on it and leaving it for a future government to bring into place. This will almost certainly mean delay until the 2025/26 shooting season. That isn’t good enough.