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The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is delighted to confirm that it will be providing financial backing and staffing support to a judicial challenge to the Welsh Government’s ban on humane cable restraints.

A Welsh farmer and conservationist has begun a legal challenge against the Welsh Ministers regarding the ban on the use of Humane Cable Restraints (HCR's) which takes away any hope of saving the curlew he has spent years protecting. This ban came into force on 17 October 2023.

A Pre-Action Protocol letter was sent at the beginning of November and on Thursday 16th November 2023 the Claim was filed with the Court.

The facts which form the basis for this claim are supported by GWCT scientific research, which demonstrates that humane cable restraints are an essential component for successful curlew conservation. Without these humane restraints conserving the remaining curlew population in Wales becomes increasingly unlikely.

David Thomas, the farmer and conservationist behind the challenge, has devoted years of his life to conserving curlew in Wales, and states that the decision to ban the use of HCR is causing him enormous stress and consternation.

"Twelve years of my life will have been completely wasted if as result of the Welsh Government's decision the curlew are lost in Radnorshire. I have had to battle to hold numbers on commons using all legal means of predation control at my disposal. Over that time frame the curlew have become more important to me, possibly due to the 2014 state of nature report that said if something was not done about ground nesting birds' survival, they will become extinct in Wales, the curlew then being the most perilous."

"The joy of seeing curlew fledge some young on the common is invigorating, no words can express the feeling of elation at the success. It makes the massive effort put in worthwhile; sadly no words can describe the current feeling of despair for the future. I find it difficult to consider carrying on this work, knowing that it is highly likely to fail."

The NGO believe that Humane Cable Restraints are a vital tool in the toolbox for land managers and gamekeepers if we are to have any hope for the future of ground-nesting bird populations in Wales. Wales has the highest density of foxes in Europe and there is irrefutable evidence that the fox is the main predator of curlew eggs, fledglings and even adult birds.

In evidence submitted by Matthew Goodall, an Advisor for the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust in Wales, he states that: "It is my opinion that Welsh Government has not considered the available evidence appropriately and has purposefully avoided engaging with myself and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust because we have demonstratable scientific evidence which is irreconcilable with the political objective they wish to achieve."It is with all the above in mind that the National Gamekeepers' Organisation agreed to help finance this legal challenge.

We believe that in Wales, rural voices are being ignored and marginalised. More worryingly, there appears to be no appetite for challenging the Welsh Government, meaning that they can push through legislation while ignoring the need for evidence or scientific fact.

Tim Weston, Director of Environment, Politics and Policy for the NGO said:

"The NGO was approached to support this case and we immediately decided that it was too important to not get involved with. The NGO represents the largest group of privately funded conservationists in Wales, and as such we cannot stand by and let the Welsh government legislate away our most precious species and habitats"

Notes to Editors:

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 over 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation. www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk

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