First details of new General Licences for bird control

Defra has published the first details of three new general licences for the control of certain bird species effective from 1st January 2021.

The new general licences provide the legal framework for the control of birds including various crow species, woodpigeon and Canada goose for the purposes of conservation of wild birds, flora and fauna, protecting public health and safety and to prevent serious damage to crops and livestock.

The publication of the new licences follows a lengthy consultation by Defra that the GWCT has actively engaged in. This included the preparation and submission of three scientific and practitioner evidence-based reports on the impacts of certain predatory bird species on the conservation of wild birds.

The new general licences allow for control on protected sites and Defra has advised that they will publish further information on this before the licences come into effect.

All the bird species on the current licences remain on at least one or more of the new general licences. Given the changes, it will be essential that users familiarise themselves and comply fully with the terms and conditions to ensure that the licence is applicable to the circumstances within which they are operating.

Commenting on the new licences, Dr Roger Draycott of the GWCT said ‘Although we cautiously welcome these new licences, we are still awaiting detail on how the licensing system will work on EU designated sites and further information on the conditions related to trapping problem bird species. Ensuring that the conditions are workable for practitioners is key for the licensing system to be able to deliver for the many vulnerable bird species that are prone to predation during the nesting season and for the crops and livestock that can suffer serious damage from certain birds. We hope that Defra will clarify these details as soon as possible and we look forward to engaging with them. When we have more details we will be providing updates, advice and training sessions on the new licences for our members and supporters’.

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