The recent withdrawal by Natural England of three General Licences, following a legal challenge, has been controversial. This poses the risk of distracting debate from the real benefits that targeted predator management can bring to conservation projects.
The General Licences underpin legal, seasonal predator control for conservation purposes, with scientific evidence showing that their adoption can improve breeding success in a number of different species, some red-listed such as lapwing, where habitat improvement alone has not aided recovery. Defra and Natural England are planning a wider review of general licensing later this year; it is important that this aspect of the debate is not overlooked.
- James Pearce-Higgins, Director of Science, British Trust for Ornithology
- Dr Mike Swan, Advisor and Head of Education, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust