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Defra investigates Natural England over general licences
Natural England revoked three general licences for shooting 16 species of wild bird.

Call for evidence to explore impact of decision to revoke 

Defra is investigating Natural England’s recent decision to revoke general licences for shooting 16 wild bird species.

Natural England made the decision to scrap the general licences with 36 hours notice last month, after a legal challenge from the group Wild Justice in February.

Environment secretary Michael Gove announced that he will be taking over the ultimate decision making powers for general licences. A call for evidence on the impact of revoking the licences was also launched.

In particular, Defra is hoping to gather information on the implications for the protection of wild birds and the impacts on crops, livestock, wildlife, disease, human health and safety and wider nature conservation efforts.

Wild Justice, which is comprised of Chris Packham, Mark Avery and Ruth Tingay, launched a legal challenge against the licences in February, asserting that birds could only be killed under certain legal conditions, but Natural England had not satisfied itself that those conditions were being met before issuing general licences.

In April, Natural England revealed it would revoke three general licences from 25 April, prompting concern from farmers about protecting crops and livestock from predation.
Following the revocation of the licences, naturalist Chris Packham received death threats and suspicious packages to his home.

Defra’s call for evidence closes on Monday 13 May, after which the secretary of state will take a week to consider the evidence gathered, before making a decision.

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.