Call for evidence to inform the development of NRW’s approach to regulating the release of gamebirds (common pheasant and red-legged partridge) in Wales

Closed 22 Aug 2022

Opened 11 Jul 2022

Results updated 4 Oct 2022

Your response to our call for evidence

Our call for evidence closed on the 22nd August 2022. We received responses from the following organisations:

  • Aim to Sustain Partnership
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
  • Animal Aid
  • British Association for Shooting and Conservation
  • British Game Assurance
  • Countryside Alliance
  • Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust Wales
  • League Against Cruel Sports
  • National Gamekeepers Organisation
  • RSPB Cymru

We also had responses from a number of individuals.

We are currently considering these responses and will be reviewing all the evidence in the coming months with a view to developing options for any future regulatory approach. As part of this process, we have been identifying any peer-reviewed papers highlighted by those who responded to our call for evidence that had not been considered by two comprehensive reviews in 2020. To date, we have identified around 25 new peer-reviewed papers, a number of which we consider to be highly relevant. We have also been a sent significant amount of other literature, including articles, blogs, reports, and personal testimony.

Next Steps

Considering the evidence

We will now need to collate and consider these submissions. As part of this process, we will:

  • Continue to identify and extract any new peer-reviewed papers that have been attached to, or cited in, the submissions received
  • Consider any unpublished, personal, or anecdotal evidence that has been submitted and assess its significance.
  • Review evidence submitted by NRW staff.
  • Review any new evidence that we have identified independently of the call for evidence.

We may also:

  • Commission additional evidence where we feel there are evidence gaps that would help us to assess the situation in Wales, and that can be filled within our timescales.
  • Seek independent expert advice and assistance in analysing existing, and any new evidence.

In their submissions, some respondents said that they thought we should have included the paper Summary review and synthesis: effects on habitats and wildlife of the release and management of pheasants and red-legged partridges on UK lowland shoots (Sage et al. 2020) alongside the two other 2020 reviews we referred to in our call for evidence. On reflection, we agree with this, and we intend to consider it alongside the other 2020 reviews during the next steps of our review of the evidence.

Stakeholder involvement

As we move forward with this work, we will be inviting stakeholders to participate in working groups.




The Welsh Ministers have asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Welsh Government to consider options for regulating gamebird releases in Wales.

Currently, whilst releases within the boundary of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) usually require consent, there is little regulation outside of protected sites.

Concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the current regulatory provisions to effectively monitor and manage potential environmental impacts, particularly on European protected sites. Following a legal challenge, Defra has introduced an interim regulatory approach. However, that approach applies only to releases in England.

We are now reviewing the available evidence and will develop proposals for a proportionate regulatory approach to gamebird releases in Wales.  In carrying out this work we intend to:

  • Review the findings of the Rapid Evidence Assessment for Natural England and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (Madden J.R. & Sage, R.B. 2020. see link below)
  • Review the findings of RSPB evidence report no.66 - The impacts of non-native gamebird release in the UK: an updated evidence review (Mason et al 2020. see link below)
  • Identify and consider any relevant evidence that was not considered in those reviews - such as evidence published since they were concluded, or evidence of specific relevance to Wales
  • Review the conclusions Defra reached in developing their interim licensing regime for England
  • Consider how best to manage any ecological risks in Wales without disproportionately compromising the ecological, social, and economic benefits provided by game shooting
  • Consult on our preferred option(s) in 2023 and consider any responses received
  • Implement any new regulatory approach and provide guidance to help our customers to comply with it

We are particularly interested in evidence that was not considered in the reviews listed above and can help us better understand and assess:

  • The scale and distribution of gamebird releases in Wales and any associated trends
  • The ecological effects of gamebird releases and the factors that contribute to those effects
  • The ecological effects of management activities related to game shooting in Wales
  • The socio-economic effects of game shooting in Wales

We are not looking for evidence relating to the following matters, which are out of scope of this work:

  • The use of lead shot
  • Whether gamebird rearing or other shooting activities should be allowed on the NRW estate
  • The ethics of game shooting

We are looking for scientific or anecdotal evidence. This is not a consultation and therefore we are not looking for views or opinions at this stage.

We will actively look for relevant published evidence that has not yet been considered. However, we also want to give stakeholders the opportunity to share evidence they are aware of, or evidence they hold, that they feel would be useful in informing our approach.

Please email your evidence to:

Alternatively, you can submit evidence by post to:

Gamebirds Call for Evidence

Natural Resources Wales

Maes y Ffynnon




LL57 2DW




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