redgrouseGamebirds are defined under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) as any pheasant, partridge, or grouse, Red Grouse and Ptarmigan are often referred to as moor game, Black Grouse as heath game. Capercaillie (the UK’s largest grouse species) are now fully protected in Scotland, and as they no longer occur anywhere else in the UK they are effectively fully protected everywhere.

The following waders are also subject to shooting seasons: Woodcock, Snipe, and Golden Plover.

Coots and moorhen may be shot from September 1st to January 31st across England, Scotland and Wales, but are protected in Northern Ireland where it’s illegal to shoot them at any time of the year.


redmorearrowIt is illegal to shoot game birds during their close seasons, which normally cover the breeding periods.

Licences cannot be issued under either the Game Acts or the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) to kill or take game birds during the close season. However, in exceptional circumstances, where the birds are causing serious damage, a notice may be issued under Section 98 of the Agriculture Act 1947.
 
 

Open seasons – dates are inclusive

Species

England, Wales and Scotland

Northern Ireland

Pheasant

Oct 01 – Feb 01

Oct 01 – Jan 31

Grey Partridge

Sept 01 – Feb 01

Sept 01- Jan 31

Red-legged Partridge

Sept 01 – Feb 01

Sept 01- Jan 31

Red Grouse

Aug 12 – Dec 10

Aug 12 – Nov 30

Black Grouse

Aug 20 – Dec 10
(Somerset, Devon and New Forest: Sept 01 – Dec 10)

Ptarmigan

Aug 12 – Dec 10

Golden Plover

Sept 01 – Jan 31

Sept 01 – Jan 31

Woodcock

Oct 01 – Jan 31

Oct 01 – Jan 31

Common Snipe

Aug 12 – Jan 31

Sept 01 – Jan 31

 

  • Curlew and Jack Snipe are both protected in England, Scotland and Wales but can be shot in Northern Ireland Sept 01 – Jan 31

 

Additional restrictions

England and Wales

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  • Gamebirds of any species may NOT be killed on Sundays or Christmas Day
  • Gamebirds of any species may NOT be shot between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise

 
Scotland

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  • These birds may not be shot between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise

 
Northern Ireland

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  • All wild birds are protected on Sundays and Christmas Day
  • Wild birds may not be shot between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise

 
 
redmorearrowFor information on laws on wildfowling (shooting ducks and geese) please go to /wildfowling-and-the-law/
 
 
 
 
Page updated January 2015.

Any comments, corrections, additions? Please let us know.
 
 

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