Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

General licences for killing 16 wild bird species scrapped
The general licences cover 16 bird species, including several members of the crow family, Canada geese, some gulls and pigeons.

Move follows legal challenge from Wild Justice 

Natural England has scrapped general licences for the lethal control of certain wild birds following a legal challenge.

The challenge was launched in February by the group Wild Justice - formed of Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay.

According to the group, the general licences - which cover 16 bird species including several members of the crow family, Canada geese, some gulls and pigeons - were unlawful.

A statement on the Wild Justice website reads: ‘In essence, these birds can only be killed under certain legal conditions and NE has to be satisfied that those conditions are met before issuing the licences. NE had not satisfied itself of those things and so the licences are not lawful.’

The group said it asked Natural England not to issue the 2020 licences in the same ‘unlawful’ form.

General licences were introduced in the 1990s to allow certain bird species to be legally killed in order to prevent serious damage or disease, to protect public health and safety and to conserve wild birds or flora and fauna.

Natural England revealed it would revoke three general licences from 25 April 2019, following the legal challenge. The public body said it is ‘working at pace’ to implement alternative measures to allow the lawful control of these species where necessary.

In the meantime, an individual licence will be needed to kill any of these birds where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative.

Natural England’s interim chief executive Marian Spain said: “We recognise this change will cause disruption for some people, but we are working hard to ensure it is kept to a minimum.

"We will bring forward interim measures as quickly as possible as the first stage of our planned review of the licences. We want to make sure our licensing system is robust and proportionate, taking into account the needs of wildlife and people.”

Wild Justice said it was “delighted” with the outcome of the case and would be bringing it to the attention of other statutory agencies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Farming organisations, however, have expressed concern over the decision to revoke the licences at short notice.

Deputy president of the National Farmers Union (NFU), Guy Smith, said: “The NFU has significant concerns about the abrupt withdrawal of these general licences.

“They are absolutely necessary at this time of year when crops are particularly vulnerable to pests. For example, a flock of pigeons could decimate a farmer’s field of crops or lambs could be targeted by crows leaving severe injuries...

“We understand that Natural England will be issuing new licences from next week and for the NFU it is a matter of priority that these licences are issued as soon as possible.”



Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Registrations open for overseas veterinary professionals course

News Story 1
 Registrations are now open for the RCVS CPD course for overseas veterinary professionals, which covers an introduction to the UK veterinary professions.

The course is aimed at overseas-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses during their first two years of working in the UK, in addition to those considering working here. It provides graduates with the key information and skills required to practice in the UK, as well as helping them understand their legal duties as veterinary professionals.

For more information and to book your place please click here. The course will be held at Belgravia House, London, on Wednesday 12 June.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New online guides provide advice for dog owners

A series of downloadable leaflets for dog owners have been produced by veterinary charity PetSavers in a bid to reduce the temptation to seek advice online.

The series entitled ‘My Dog’s Got’ offers practical information on an array of topics, including ‘My dog has dental disease,’ ‘My dog has itchy skin,’ and My dog has kidney disease.’

The new guides can be downloaded here. Printed versions of the new guides can be ordered by veterinary practices in exchange for a donation to PetSavers.