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Following a consultation which received over 40,000 responses, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have paused their plans to license the release of game birds for the 2024/2025 season

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is pleased to hear that Natural Resources Wales (NRW) have seen sense and paused their plans to license the release of game birds, including pheasants and red-legged partridge, for the 2024/2025 season. 

Members may recall that we urged everyone who has an interest in shooting to submit a response to the 12-week consultation on the release of gamebirds in Wales. We would like to thank everyone who did so, as it is clear this had an impact. 

The proposals put forward by NRW would have meant that game bird releasing would be banned and only allowed under licence. This would give the Welsh Government the power to shut down all game shooting in Wales if they so wished. This is extremely worrying, given the fact that Julie James, Minister for Climate Change in Wales, has previously stated that: ‘The Welsh Government does not support the shooting of live quarry as a leisure activity’. 

The National Gamekeepers' Organisation were particularly concerned about the impact of the proposals on gamekeepers' jobs and the economy of rural communities, and on the unique biodiversity in Wales which relies on areas that are managed for shooting. 

NRW say that they received over 42,000 responses to the consultation, “including some very detailed and technical submissions.” As a result of the many responses, they require more time to analyse this feedback. 

“Considering the views of consultees is an important part of ensuring that any regulatory approach is workable, proportionate, and effective”, they explained.  

“Given the volume of consultation responses, we feel that having licensing in place in time for the 2024/5 shooting season is not achievable. We have decided, following discussions with Welsh Government, that, should licensing be required, it will not come into force until the 2025/6 season – a delay of 12 months from our original target.” 

David Pooler, Chairman of the NGO and Regional Chairman for North Wales and Powys said:

"It remains to be seen whether the licensing plans will come into effect. However, the response from Natural Resources Wales shows just how important it is for people living and working in the countryside to make their voices heard. The shooting and gamekeeping community as a whole made a concerted effort to communicate to NRW exactly what they thought of the proposals, and it is heartening that NRW are taking the time to consider these responses. 

"The proposals would have been disastrous for gamekeeping in Wales, for the huge swathes of the rural economy who depend on shooting, and for Welsh wildlife and our natural landscape more widely. The NGO is of the view that the proposals put forward are unnecessary and should be dropped completely."

Notes to Editors:

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation: The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO) represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales. The NGO defends and promotes gamekeeping and gamekeepers and works to ensure high standards throughout the profession. The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that keepering was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.  www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

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