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Thread: The release for shooting purposes of rare and scarce wildfowl species

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  1. #1
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    Default The release for shooting purposes of rare and scarce wildfowl species

    This matter was raised under a different thread. In the Waveney valley in North Suffolk a shooting syndicate run by an Italian who lives there released a large number of Red-crested Pochards, Garganey and Marbled Ducks. There were also commoner species like Wigeon and Pintail.

    There has been considerable confusion about the law and the following is a quote received from Natural England.

    The law used to stae that you could release wildfowl "native to GB" but this has now been revised to "native to European Territory".

    The former was just about acceptable but the latter if carried out to extremes would allow feral flocks of King Eider, Steller's Eider, Marbled Teal etc to be established in any European country. Imagine what this would do to the recording of rarities let alone what effect these could have on native species if successful.

    Is this something birders should be concerned about? Is it something the birding community should lobby for to effect a more sensible approach?

    Derek:

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    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Moore View Post

    The former was just about acceptable but the latter if carried out to extremes would allow feral flocks of King Eider, Steller's Eider, Marbled Teal etc to be established in any European country.
    This is a domestic interpretation, applying only to Natural England in their discretion that such an action would not contravene the Birds Directive (specifically, that it wont harm any other species - the BD doesn't put an outright ban on non-native releases). If you think about it, this is the same clause used for Pheasant/RL Partridge rearing and releasing, which would otherwise be illegal. Technically, NE can allow the release of anything it likes, as long as there's no evidence that it is likely to harm another species, otherwise it's open to prosecution by the EU.

    Of course, it contravenes accepted good practice about releases, but they're just 'suggestions' and the application and interpretation of the law rests with NE and the EU.

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    Hello there- interesting topic. I think mafting is right in what he says about the Birds Directive. But under UK law I think position is as follows:

    1 There is a prohibition under Wildlife and Countryside Act on the introduction of species "not ordinarily resident in and....not a regular visitor to Great Britain in a wild state" . So release of for example Marbled Teal is probably illegal under UK law, even if in theory it could potentially be released under licence in UK with contravening the Birds Directive.

    2 But Red-crested Pochard being a regular visitor etc. to Great Britain in small numbers is not caught by that non-native prohibition under WACA.

    3. There is also a prohibition under WACA on release of any species listed in Part 1 of Schedule 9, the list being designed to catch those things which might already be present in the wild but which for various reasons shouldn't be being released. But it is a real ragbag of a list.

    4. There was consultation by DEFRA in 2008 on adding various things to Schedule 9, specifically including Red-crested Pochard.

    See here: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-cou...nsultation.pdf

    Most respondents to the consultation were in favour of adding RCP to the list, subject to a bit of bleating about problems enforcing it. I don't think those proposals have found their way into an amendment to Schedule 9 yet, but I would be delighted to hear from someone with better knowledge on that than I have.

    For what it's worth, my own view is that Schedule 9 should be much broader at least as it applies to birds - I can't see any reason to allow releases of any native species, except under a general or specific licence. See Ibis Vol 146 s2 for an article by Ian Carter of English Nature making that very point.

    ATB
    Last edited by ed keeble; August 6th, 2009 at 10:28 AM.

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    Senior Member Sherpa's Avatar
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    Can anyone clarify the law about releasing (expletive deleted) Italians into Suffolk marshes and taking pot shots at them?
    Last edited by Sherpa; August 6th, 2009 at 11:14 AM.

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    Senior Member mafting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed keeble View Post
    For what it's worth, my own view is that Schedule 9 should be much broader at least as it applies to birds - I can't see any reason to allow releases of any native species, except under a general or specific licence. See Ibis Vol 146 s2 for an article by Ian Carter of English Nature making that very point.

    ATB
    There is a strong economic argument against it, from the hunting economy. Millions of native/neo-native birds are released each year - mallard, partridges, pheasant etc etc etc. Also from anyone (e.g. vets) taking in injured wild birds - once in captivity while being treated they are no longer 'wild', and hence you'd need a licence to release them again.

    To introduce a general licence, such as exists for shooting e.g. woodpigeons, would be pointless - what would be the restrictions specified? What would it 'do'? How could it modify behaviour or tackle any problems? What ARE the problems? The general licence for hunting is never enforced, despite flouting being the absolute norm (it's almost impossible to shoot a woodpigeon, magpie or crow without breaking the rules of the general licence), so they are effectively useless and might as well not exist.

    The bottom line is that laws are only there to prevent harm, either to ecosystems, species, economic activity, public health, or the welfare of animals concerned. Releasing a native is arguably only relevant to the latter, and that is something that is already covered by other laws (animal welfare legislation). So, in the grand scheme of things, for birds, releasing a load of mallards or Blackbirds or whatever isn't going to have any real impact that is worth making a law for. In other words 'what harm can it do?' Note that where a problem is shown to exists, e.g. with barn owl, then mechanisms exist whereby it can be restricted.

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    I think its been illegal to shoot Italians since 1945....



    Paul

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