Birds: Gun Sports

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st September 2022.

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Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the number of woodcock shot annually in each of the last 10 years; and what discussions they have held, if any, with Natural England in relation to the effect of shooting woodcock on the status of woodcock.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Data for the number of woodcock shot in each of the last ten years has not been collated. However, there are publicly available game bag returns for the period 1961-2005 through the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust website (https://www.gwct.org.uk/research/long-term-monitoring/national-gamebag-census/bird-bags-summary-trends/woodcock/). Where shooting occurs on protected sites, some bag return reports may be requirements of consent by Natural England.

In response to a request from Defra, Natural England has submitted a briefing to Defra which considered woodcock ecology, population status and possible drivers of woodcock decline (including hunting).

Defra intends to review Schedule 2 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which lists species of birds which may be killed or taken outside a close season. In particular, consideration will be given to the evidence underpinning the listing of species such as woodcock so that we can ensure that recreational shooting is sustainable and does not undermine species recovery. This may include a review of the evidence for the timing and duration of the close season.

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