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Call for evidence into gamebird releasing by NRW is not necessary or proportionate

Countryside Alliance Wales has welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) call for evidence on the release of gamebirds in Wales but has raised concerns over the short timescale on offer. The review is at the request of the Welsh Ministers and evidence will be scrutinised by NRW before they present a "preferred option" later in the year.

We stated clearly in our response that we are unconvinced that further regulation is needed. Game shooting in Wales is already subject to both statutory regulation and extensive industry led regulation and the extensive available evidence does not suggest that further regulation is either necessary or proportionate.

Furthermore, in a meeting with NRW on 8th August we stressed the need for NRW to remain open to further evidence being submitted after the closing date of the first phase which closed on Monday 22nd August, after an extremely short six week call for evidence.

There is a considerable amount of research currently being undertaken into various aspects of gamebird releasing. When Defra announced last year that it would be introducing an interim licence regime for the release of pheasant and red-legged partridge on and around English European Protected Sites, the Department also committed to addressing gaps in the existing scientific literature that had been highlighted during the review into the ecological consequences of gamebird releasing and management on lowland Shoots in England undertaken in 2020.

It has now been confirmed that starting this summer, Defra, Natural England and the Animal and Plant Health Agency are beginning a three-year Gamebird Research Project into those knowledge gaps. The project will inform its wider work on considering longer term regulatory solutions around gamebird releases on and around European sites, and the findings of this, and other research will help provide NRW with a more complete evidential picture on which to base any conclusions and recommendations.

The Countryside Alliance believes that further regulation would not be appropriate before all the evidence is available, and it would not be justifiable on the basis of the existing evidence. NRW must ensure that any regulatory regime is evidence based and proportionate.

NRW have stated that once they have considered the evidence and developed a preferred option, they will undertake a public consultation before any changes are made. We expect the consultation to take place in 2023 and we will be calling on our members and supporters to respond to this as soon as it is launched.

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