Heathland at the Lodge RSPB reserve, UK headquaters of the RSPB, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Gamebird FAQs

General questions about the game shooting review survey.

Why have I received this survey?

The RSPB Council has agreed to review our policy on gamebird shooting and associated land management. 

We intend to do this, informed by the views of our members and other stakeholders. We value your input into this process.

Why are you reviewing your policy?

There is growing concern about the environmental impact of intensive forms of gamebird shooting and associated land management practices. Environmental concerns include the ongoing illegal persecution of birds of prey such as hen harriers on some sporting estates; the ecological impact of high numbers of gamebirds released into the countryside, increasing the density of predators such as foxes and weasels; the mass culling of mountain hares in some parts of our uplands; the use of lead ammunition; and the impact of burning peatlands and medicating wild animals for sport shooting. In response to evidence about the scale of the environmental impact and growing public concern, including from our membership, the RSPB Council has agreed to review our policy on gamebird shooting and associated land management. 

When and how will I be informed of your decision?

The intention is to complete this work as soon as is practically possible. To engage people in the right way, and ensure we have the best available evidence, we need to take our time. We’ll make an announcement on our decision at the AGM in October and then provide more detail in the following edition of Nature’s Home magazine.

How long have I got to submit this survey?

The survey will close on Thursday 26 March.

Why did I receive this survey, I have opted out of receiving email/post?

Market research is not defined as advertising or as a marketing communication, so it is not affected by your opt-in “yes” or “no” choices. If you’d like more information, please see here or speak to our Supporter Services team.

Why do you need my name and postcode, is this not an anonymised survey?

We use your surname and postcode so we can verify you’re an RSPB member. This is the most simple and reliable way of matching your details to our database. Once these details have been verified, your responses will be anonymised and reported in an aggregated format. Your details will not be used for any other purpose and the responses we are collecting are for research purposes only.

A lot of this survey does not make sense to me. Should I still fill it in?

It may not be a subject you are familiar with, but it’s very important we receive your feedback. We’re keen to provide a representative view of all RSPB members in our review.
There should be a “don’t know”/ “not sure” / “prefer not to say” option for all questions, so please select the appropriate option for any questions you are not comfortable answering.

I opened the survey link but did not complete it. I now can’t access it to take part. How do I complete it?

If you received the link to the survey via email, you will have been given a unique link to the survey. You should be able to use that original link to regain access to the survey and pick up where you left. Please check you’re using the same device and browser that you used initially to access the survey.


If you received the link to the survey via post, you will have received a generic link to the survey (along with a unique ID) which unfortunately means you are unable to revisit the link and continue with the survey. If this is the case, you can still provide us with your comments via filling in the online form using this link.

Me and another person I share the membership with both wanted to fill in the survey separately. We can’t seem to do this.

A unique survey link has been created for one member or one person in a membership. To ensure the sample of the survey is representative and statistically robust we are unable to extend the invitation outside those that have been pre-selected. However, there is another way of providing feedback using this link.

I wish to raise a formal complaint. How do I do this?

Formal complaints can be made either in writing or via email. For our full complaints policy, including how to contact us, please see here.

What is gamebird shooting?

Gamebird shooting is the shooting of gamebirds. A gamebird is any bird which is shot for sport excluding swans, ducks and geese; however, it usually refers to grouse, pheasants and partridges.

Why is the RSPB not against shooting in general?

The terms of the RSPB’s Royal Charter make it clear that we maintain a neutral position with regards to legitimate field sports. We’re rigorous in maintaining this neutrality. We’re a conservation organisation and become involved in shooting issues only where a scientifically proven conservation problem can be identified.

What is considered legal killing?

The legal control of generalist predators such as foxes, weasels, stoats and crows is routine in gamebird shooting and legal under UK laws. Bird species can be legally killed under both general and individual licences. Schedule 2 species, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, can be killed outside the close season. Most mammal species can be killed with no regulation.
For more information on wildlife law see here.

What is a general licence?

General licences allow a non-bureaucratic means of legal control of bird species of low conservation concern to protect public health and safety, prevent serious damage and disease, and protect plants and wildlife.

A general licence does not need an application. If you’ve read and abide by the terms and conditions, you can legally use a general licence to control specified bird species for specified reasons.

Where can I go for more information on general licences?


For more information please see the government website pages on general licences.

Where can I go for more information on peatland burning?

See these two pages for more information on peatland burning and why peatlands are so important:

Where can I go for more information on the illegal killing of birds of prey?

The Birdcrime report is published annually by the RSPB. It is a summary of detected offences against birds of prey (also known as raptors), collated by our Investigations Team. We know, from independent studies of raptor populations, that more incidents will have taken place undetected or unreported, and so the information in this report only scratches the surface.


The Investigations Team has their own blog on RSPB Communities here.

Why do you need to know how I use the internet?

This allows to compare the results of members who have completed the survey by post, to those that have completed the survey online, to see if internet usage varies across these two groups.


If you do not wish to provide us with this information for whatever reason, there is a “prefer not to say” option. Additionally, please remember that you have the right to withdraw from the survey at any time.