Chris Packham, on behalf of Wild Justice, is asking the Defra Secretary of State, George Eustice, to limit the shooting season of Woodcock. We’re asking that the shooting season starts on 1 December instead of the current date of 1 October.
We birders know that Woodcock are really special birds and yet the UK breeding population is red-listed because it has declined dramatically. In October and November, most Woodcock shot are going to be UK birds because the main arrival of continental Woodcock is in late November. Even the pro-shooting Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust ask shooters to show restraint and not to shoot Woodcock until 1 December. We are asking Mr Eustice to make that a matter of law by this small but significant change to the shooting season. By mid-winter, continental birds outnumber our breeding residents by around 10:1.
Why aren’t we asking for a total ban on Woodcock shooting? Because we judge that there is little chance of getting that, but changes to shooting seasons, supported by the science, ought to be achievable. Even so we think it will be an uphill struggle which is why we need to demonstrate a strong level of support.
You might be surprised by how many Woodcock are shot in the UK each winter; the shooting industry admits to the number being around 160,000 birds a year. Some of these are shot on Pheasant shoots as they are flushed out of woodland by beaters but there are also dedicated Woodcock shoots in the west of the country, particularly Devon and Cornwall, Wales and the west of Scotland. There are companies specifically selling Woodcock shooting and they take no notice of the calls for restraint until 1 December – that shows we need a change in the shooting season. To read more about this please visit the Wild Justice blog here: https://wildjustice.org.uk/woodcock/we-ask-for-changes-to-the-woodcock-shooting-season/
To sign the petition please visit here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/619615