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This activity category is for the use of firearms to shoot wildfowl; it does not take into account use of dogs during these activities - in SEMS the impact of dogs is considered within 'Land recreation - Dog walking'.

Wildfowling is a largely solitary activity which involves the hunting of specific species of ducks, geese and waders with a smooth bore shotgun. It is undertaken primarily on estuaries and coastal marshes. In England the season runs from 1st September until 31st January above the high water mark and extends until February 20th below the high water mark. The majority of wildfowling is organised through a club structure but it can also be undertaken independently.

A large number of the sites where wildfowling takes place are protected due to their special interest in relation to flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features. Natural England, as the government's adviser for the natural environment in England, has many duties in relation to these sites, one such duty being the assessment of all proposals for activities undertaken by landowners/occupiers which may damage the special interest of the site. The aim of the assessment process is to ensure that any activity which is being carried out on a designated site is undertaken in a sustainable manner and does not damage the special features so that the site can continue to support and sustain the habitats and/or species for which it was designated. Landowners/occupiers, such as wildfowling clubs, need to apply to Natural England for consent to undertake such activities, this provision does not exist for third parties undertaking activities on these sites. 

Impacts of wildfowling include the following:

The summary of responses to Natural England’s consultation on the review of its guidance for assessing wildfowling consents on protected sites, can be viewed at: (March 2018).

For all wildfowling activity which takes place under a Crown Estate lease, annual returns have to be made detailing the numbers of visits undertaken and number of birds shot. The Crown Estate provides guidance at:

Information from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation is available at: