With its beautiful colouring, the pheasant is a familiar sight in woods and dales, usually spotted clucking away in full flight. But is it a wild or a farmed bird? Sure the pheasant is not a native British bird but it’s been around for two thousand years, believed introduced by the Romans. The RSPB lists it in its pocket book of birds and they don’t do that for the farmyard chicken. On the other hand 35 million pheasants are reared and released each year significantly adding to the wild population. With a total annual bag of 15 million birds it is estimated that the proportion of wild pheasants may be as low as 10%.
So is it a wild or a farmed bird? The 35 million birds that are reared each year would have been classed as livestock, this is so that some costs associated in their production will be exempt from value added tax. Furthermore as it is food production there is exemption from certain planning controls.
Now when the pheasants are released you want to be able to shoot them so they then need to be reclassified as wild. You can’t shoot chickens. They have to be sent to the abattoir.
Of course at the end of the shooting season some birds need to be re-captured to use for breeding the next year. As this is usually done with nets and as wild birds aren’t allowed to be caught with nets, the pheasants are then reclassified back to livestock.
Finally if you happen to run over a pheasant with your car, causing considerable damage, you will have no course of action against the keeper who released the bird as of course it’s a wild bird.
So it is a wild bird? I haven’t a clue.