The photo above shows seven week old pheasant chicks, often known as poults, after just being released into a gamekeepers release pen on an English shooting estate Last week Wild Justice sent a Pre Action Protocol letter to Michael Gove at Defra requiring him to assess the impacts of the release of the vast and increasing numbers of non-native gamebirds into the countryside. This, they argue, is a legal requirement under the EU Habitats Directive. Every year 43 million captive-reared Pheasants (and 9 million Red-legged Partridges) are released into the countryside, creating an additional weight of biomass three times the size of all our native songbird populations. The numbers released have increased about ten-fold in the last 45 years and, like most of the rest of the shooting industry’s activities, are not regulated by government. More paperwork is needed to reintroduce native UK species into the countryside for conservation purposes than to release non-native omnivorous birds on a vast scale to fuel recreational shooting. See the full details of Wild Justice’s challenge and how to support it here.