On May 30, the general licence covering releasing of pheasants and red-legged partridges on European protected sites (GL43) expired, making it illegal to release gamebirds without applying and securing an individual licence.

Defra has yet to announce and provide clarity of how the release of gamebirds will be undertaken in these areas – but is directing shoots to a web-based survey which indicates that some shoots on some designated areas will have to apply for an individual licence but others will not.

Defra has not provided any information on its decision-making process behind the banning of releasing in these areas. Releasing gamebirds away from protected sites remains unaffected by this decision.

BASC chief executive Ian Bell said: “Defra has refused to engage with the shooting community on this issue and has created massive confusion and concern at a critical point in the year when shoots are on the brink of releasing.

“This is wholly unacceptable behaviour by a government department and will not go unchallenged by BASC. We will be pressing Defra and government in the strongest of terms.

“Defra has released only limited information at the moment, so BASC will continue to update our members and the wider shooting community as more information becomes available.”

You can find more information and resources to help navigate the situation on BASC's dedicated GL43 page