No shooting of Red-listed birds

Expert groups using the most current data available regularly assess the global conservation status of taxa including mammals, birds, butterflies, and plants. Using protocols established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the species most in need of urgent conservation measures to prevent their extinction are ‘Red-listed’.

The UK follows the same protocols, with experts and organisations updating the conservation status of British species. Despite the known threats, shooters are still permitted to legally kill five Red-listed bird species.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries on the planet. We have lost half our biodiversity. We know this because of the efforts of experts and volunteers alike who monitor and survey a huge range of species.

The status of birds in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man has now been reviewed five times. The latest review, which updated the last assessment in 2015, was published in December 2021 as Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (BOCC5),.

BOCC5 determined that 108 (46%) of the regularly occurring bird species in Great Britain are threatened with extinction, meaning that they were either classed as Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable to extinction.

From that data the UK Red List for birds, was drawn up. The Red List, those species in most urgent need of help, now stands at 70 (the first Red List, published in 1996, had only 36 species on it).

Despite all the data and the knowledge that has gone into BOCC5, the government still allows six Red-listed species to be legally shot for ‘sport’ (additionally the Amber Listed Common Snipe is still shot in large numbers).



Tens of thousands of Woodcock are shot every year, shooters claiming (with no evidence) that they are ‘only’ shooting Woodcock that breed overseas. An 81% decline since 1961 saw the Ptarmigan being moved from a favourable Green Listed species straight to Red in 2021, yet there is still a shooting ‘season’ running from Aug 12 – Dec 10. The Black Grouse is declining and while there is a shooting moratorium it is still on the quarry list. The Grey Partridge has been in decline for decades yet is still shot. Common Pochard are still listed as a ‘quarry species’, despite the IUCN listing the species as globally Vulnerable to extinction.

Shooting claims that ‘codes of practice’, ‘voluntary restraint’, and the ‘common sense’ of shooters will ensure the survival of these species in the UK, but it is nonsensical and illogical that such threatened species should still be shot at all.

Protect the Wild doesn’t believe that any birds should be shot for ‘sport’, regardless of their conservation status, but there should at the very least be a total ban on the shooting of any species once it is Red-listed while programmes are put in place to rebuild populations.

Take action

Send a letter to the UK's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - direct from our website straight to their inbox...

You can get involved and send a letter to the UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ban the shooting of red-listed species.

Click the link below to send the letter direct from our website to their inbox.

Our Shooting Demands

Add pheasants to
Alien Species Order
Ban shooting of
Red-listed birds
No public subsidy of
Shotgun Licenses
No grouse moor
'Licensing Lifeline'
Register all animals
Trapped or Snared