What has happened?
Natural England (NE) yesterday announced that they are revoking the three general licences for controlling wild birds as from Thursday 25 April 2019. This means that the current arrangements are only permitted to midnight today (Wednesday April 24th).
These licences (GL 04/05/06) cover 16 species of birds including; crows, jackdaws, feral and wood pigeons, jays, lesser black-backed gulls, magpies, rooks, Canada Goose.
It is clear that NE have bowed to political pressure from “Wild Justice”, a group formed by Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay, and have not considered the impact of their decision on the environment they claim to be protecting.
What it means?
You will have to apply for an individual licence before resuming control of these birds. There is little or no comfort in Section 4 of WCA 1981, and we do not recommend anyone relies upon it. These changes do not effect mammal control, which can continue.
All catch and kill equipment (Larsen, letterbox, multicatch, decoys) as well as shooting, will be illegal after midnight today (Wednesday 24th April 2019), and no Larsen or other trap can still be set to catch without an individual licence. We believe that call birds can be kept in suitable conditions but not in a trap used to catch others. Therefore, although there is some ambiguity (to do with ringing), you can keep a crow, magpie etc in a suitable aviary, and they must be well looked after in accordance with the Law. Please keep a record of when and where you caught the call bird, in case you are asked, as clearly you can’t catch any more birds after today.
Once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species (where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative) will need to apply for an individual licence.
Individual licences can be applied for from April 25th (tomorrow) via the Gov.UK website (although the details of this application form are currently unknown). This must be done by all those currently operating under the existing General Licences.
In limited circumstances, people may be allowed to undertake urgent action in accordance with the existing requirements of section 4 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, as we have said above, do not rely on this as it could easily lead to a potential prosecution; please talk to us before you decide to use this.
What do you now need to do?
• Write to your local MP, robustly objecting to NE’s decision. Then get everyone else you know to do the same. This is vital as we need thousands of letters. Everyone who shoots, beats, picks up, must do this; not just keepers. Your MP’s contact details can be found at: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
• Complete the NE complaint form: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/4LIRL/?fbclid=IwAR1ypogZoBhYkbYm6FC-xsPB3Nn-Lnvo65L79ipLMXmExYPAeqOm7ACFeII
• Collect and submit to your local MP, as much photographic evidence and evidence of nest destruction as possible. This is vital.
• Sign the Change.Org petition for the BBC to sack Chris Packham: https://www.change.org/p/bbc-bbc-to-sack-chris-packham
• Make sure that you are 100% complying with the above.
NE have bowed to the threat of legal action. They have sadly yet again shown that they can not be trusted to do what is right for wildlife and Countryside Management, only what is politically expedient. We need to take a very determined position on this, to show that what they are proposing will be an administrative nightmare for them, and that we will not take this ridiculous farce laying down.
Please do your bit. If we all do, then, we can both get this situation radically changed, and make them really think about doing something equally as silly, the next time.