Red Grouse | The RSPB

Gamebird Shooting Review

Many of the wildest places in the UK aren’t wild at all. Large areas are managed for shooting gamebirds.

This land use has a massive impact on the environment and on wildlife. In recent decades management has become increasingly intensive to produce more gamebirds to shoot, leading to bigger environmental impacts. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Why the RSPB is speaking out

We’re facing a climate and ecological emergency and losing our wildlife at a frightening rate. From individuals to big business, we all have a role to play in reversing these worrying trends.

Research has shown that when land is managed for gamebird shooting, it often involves practices that are damaging for the environment and harmful for many species of birds and other animals.

The RSPB wants to see an end to these unsustainable practices, and for damaged areas of the countryside to be restored in a way that benefits everyone.

Gamebird review - heath burning | The RSPB

The current situation

Less than 10% of the UK is built on. Much of the remaining land is managed for rural industries like farming, forestry and shooting.

Shooting is widespread in the UK. In lowland areas, the biggest shoots involve pheasants and red-legged partridges, with tens of millions of these non-native birds released into the countryside each year. 

In upland areas, the birds shot are mostly wild red grouse. There are two types of grouse shooting; driven (which involves very intensive land and wildlife management) and walked-up (which is far less intensive).


Uplands, view east from summit of Cairngorm across Strath Nethy to Bynack Moor | The RSPB

Your views

Red-legged partridge | The RSPB

The RSPB announced a review of our policy on gamebird shooting and its associated land management in October 2019. As part of that, in early 2020 we sought the views of our members, staff and volunteers, as countryside, animal welfare, and shooting organisations.

The majority of members, staff and volunteers shared our concerns about gamebird shooting and supported the conservation principles we developed. Some individuals supported gamebird shooting whilst others wished to see some sort of ban.  

Working together to protect our precious places

Rural industries, like shooting, need to find more sustainable ways of working.

Our moors, mountains, hills and valleys are remarkable places. They’re home to tenacious wildlife, and have a hidden impact that stretches far beyond their borders. Peat bogs hold onto rainwater, releasing it slowly into streams and rivers, helping to prevent flooding and giving us clear water to drink. They hold onto carbon too, vital in the face of a growing climate emergency.

These are not just wild, empty spaces. People come here to enjoy the landscape, watch wildlife and keep active. There are commercial forests and large farms. Huge areas are run as shooting estates. But intensive land management brings people into conflict with wildlife, and leads to practices that damage our environment as well as threatening our global climate obligations. Rural industries must now urgently find more sustainable ways of working, to keep these places remarkable for future generations.

Uplands | The RSPB
grouse infographic
pheasant infographic
Blue lichen texture background

Read our public statement

Calling red grouse, Scotland | The RSPB

Impacts of gamebird shooting