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Written by Matt Goodall, GWCT Head of Education and Advisor Wales
Those who control carrion crow, magpie and jackdaw in Wales, for conservation or to prevent serious agricultural damage, need to be aware of the changes being implemented in the new general licences (GL001 found here & GL004 found here) being issued on the 1st of July 2022.
As mentioned in a previous blog (found here) GWCT Wales perceive the changes as having the potential to be catastrophic for Wales’ already seriously declining wildlife.
Following the completion of NRW’s review of its approach to licencing, which included a public consultation between August and November 2021, NRW board voted in March this year to accept changes which will see magpie, jackdaw and jay removed completely from GL004, the ‘conservation’ licence. From the 1st of July 2022 GL004 will be titled ‘Licence to kill or take carrion crow or to take or destroy their nests or eggs for the purpose of conserving wild birds’ and will only authorise the control of carrion crow between the 1st of July and 31st of August for 2022. Going forward into 2023 the next annual licence is expected to only authorise action between the 1st of February and 31st August.
Magpie and jackdaw (along with carrion crow, woodpigeon, feral pigeon and Canada goose) will still be able to be controlled under GL001 ‘Licence to kill or take wild birds or to take or destroy their nests or eggs for the purposes of preventing serious damage or spread of disease to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit’, however the reasons for controlling species under this licence is defined and practitioners must be aware of these crucial changes going forward. For example, magpie can only be controlled to prevent serious damage to livestock and to prevent the spread of disease to livestock and livestock foodstuffs. Jackdaw can be controlled to prevent serious damage to livestock foodstuffs, serious damage to crops and to also prevent the spread of disease to livestock and livestock foodstuffs.
In a huge blow to those growing any type of crop in Wales, NRW have decided that GL001 will only allow carrion crow to be controlled to prevent serios damage to livestock, to livestock foodstuffs and to prevent the spread of disease. Crucially NRW have decided to omit the ability to control carrion crow to prevent serious damage to crops. There may be a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating serious damage (probably because no one ever felt the need to prove it) but GWCT provided NRW with a plethora of anecdotal evidence from our members which has seemingly been ignored in what seems a strange move to say the least.
Despite GWCT scientific evidence being provided and demonstrated at every available opportunity, and despite GWCT’s and other organisations on going advice to NRW, they are adamant that their new licences will deliver “a licensing system which is effective, practical and proportionate for users, while providing the necessary protection for birds”. We will see what the future brings, but in an age where predation control is widely recognised as vital for the protection and survival of many threatened species it is unlikely that further restriction will help.
Although there were positives recently when NRW followed our advice to remove and change conditions in their draft licences which would have made the new licences impractical and difficult to legally comply with, the overall picture is still incredibly bleak and disappointing.
GWCT Wales wishes to remind and advise its members, game managers, farmers, and conservationists that they have the option of applying for a Specific Licence to control species which are no longer covered under the General Licences. For example, controlling magpie, jackdaw and jay to protect the eggs and chicks of other vulnerable species. Those wishing to apply for such a licence can do so here.
For further information, advice or training requirements regarding the new licences please contact Matt Goodall, GWCT Head of Education and Advisor Wales
Tel: 07741 902021