Welsh Government to propose a licence to put-down game birds

CLA Cymru Rural Surveyor, Charles de Winton, calls on the rural community to be ready to respond to government proposals which are about to be announced.
Bettws pheasant poult pens
Poult-raising pens in North Wales

“The introduction of game birds could come under a licencing scheme, as a consultation is about to be launched on proposals to regulate an activity which has been part of our countryside culture and economy for centuries.

All those who care should oppose the proposals: I don’t mean just those whose jobs or businesses depend on it, those who host or cater for shoots, breed gun-dogs – or just enjoy it as a healthy winter outdoor activity – but equally those involved in other countryside activities like angling - your activity could be next!

CLA Cymru will join other rural organisations in formally responding to the proposals, but it’s vital that the pride and passion of those who enjoy the countryside come out in real – but controlled – emotion. I’ve often said: democracy is a numbers-game: the side that’s right can be overwhelmed by the might of the majority – which isn’t always well-informed.

The detail of the proposals are unclear at the moment, but I suspect they will take the form of regulations which will make the release of pheasants and partridge more challenging within a raft of licence criteria. And these conditions could be increased over time.

Those who are passionate about retaining responsible game management really must put pen-to-paper when the consultation comes

Charles de Winton, CLA Cymru Rural Surveyor.

The proposals are ideologically driven: Welsh Labour’s last election manifesto contained a commitment to animal welfare. It didn’t mention game bird management, but the Government feels that its victory at the 2021 Senedd elections provided it with the mandate to act. This is just one reason why those who are passionate about retaining responsible game management really must put pen-to-paper when the consultation comes.

We’re already working with key rural organisations, the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC), the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), British Game Farmers, British Gamekeepers’ Association and the Countryside Alliance in an umbrella group called Aim to Sustain. We’ll be looking to raise awareness of the consultation and encourage well-informed responses.

It’s not just about hundreds of years of country tradition, there are important facts that need to be tabled: the role game management plays in bio-conservation, landscape development and - critically – in the rural economy. We know that about 4,500 jobs are associated with the activity. So many rural hotels and holiday accommodation depends on shooting clients in the winter months. A full socio-economic impact assessment of the proposals should be made. We know how sensitive the Welsh Government is about preventing job-losses – this must be no exception.

If the pen is mightier than the sword, we must prepare our writing-tools and ensure the voice of the rural economy is heard. When the consultation emerges there will be twelve weeks to respond. We’ll provide you with some useful hard facts about the benefits of game management, but I call on you to assess how important it is to your business and your community – and be ready to come forward with your own case-studies and evidence – and not without some degree of passion.”