New Defra Licence for Non-native Gamebirds
Defra has stated that, from 31 May 2021, any release of common pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) or red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) (both non-native gamebirds) into the wild on European sites in England or within 500 metres of their boundary will only be lawful under the authority of a licence issued under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Defra has developed a general licence (GL43) that allows an authorised person to release a specified number of common pheasants or red-legged partridges into the wild in these areas providing the conditions of the licence are met.
Conditions include not releasing more than 700 birds per hectare on an European site, or not more than 1,000 birds in the 500m buffer zone around an European site.
This new licence follows a Defra-led consultation in early 2021, and a campaign by Wild Justice.