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Natural England scraps general licence to kill ‘pest’ birds

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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 11:59   #1
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Natural England scraps general licence to kill ‘pest’ birds

“Pest” bird species such as crows, woodpigeons and jays can no longer be freely killed in England after the government’s conservation watchdog revoked the licence permitting it.

The move by Natural England came after a challenge to the legality of the “general licence” by a new environmental group, Wild Justice, created by conservationists Mark Avery, Ruth Tingay and Chris Packham.


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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 13:58   #2
mark clements
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Yes I know that this is my opinion, and may be controversial.

My initial thoughts are that it MAY not have been fully considered... as it seems to be a "first day in office, news grabbing headline."

BUT if the farmer that owns all of the land around my house does not 'control the "pest" species' which he actually confines to rooks and woodpigeons, then I will not put out any bird food, as in years gone by, everything was hoovered up by the "pest species".

I cannot be bothered to have 70 rooks and 48 woodies, back on my lawn (that's the high count from 4 year's ago, when we got far fewer smaller birds). I used to witness predation on more threatened species regularly, and cannot understand why we have to allow the increasing numbers of, for example, parakeets etc, only for them to be put back on a licenced to shoot list after their breeding period.

I disagree with indiscriminate culling, but judicious culling I can live with, albeit uncomfortably.

Last edited by mark clements : Wednesday 24th April 2019 at 16:07. Reason: Spelling, as usual
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 18:08   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwinbermuda View Post
Yes I know that this is my opinion, and may be controversial.

My initial thoughts are that it MAY not have been fully considered... as it seems to be a "first day in office, news grabbing headline."

BUT if the farmer that owns all of the land around my house does not 'control the "pest" species' which he actually confines to rooks and woodpigeons, then I will not put out any bird food, as in years gone by, everything was hoovered up by the "pest species".

I cannot be bothered to have 70 rooks and 48 woodies, back on my lawn (that's the high count from 4 year's ago, when we got far fewer smaller birds). I used to witness predation on more threatened species regularly, and cannot understand why we have to allow the increasing numbers of, for example, parakeets etc, only for them to be put back on a licenced to shoot list after their breeding period.

I disagree with indiscriminate culling, but judicious culling I can live with, albeit uncomfortably.
I think you misunderstand the general licence system. It has nothing to do with breeding seasons. Basically it allows people to kill certain species if they are causing certain problems. In many instances a specific licence would need to be applied for but currently under general licences you don't need to. The challenge is around how those general licences are used and, I believe, monitored. People can still apply for a specific licence to control "pests".
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 18:34   #4
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I think you misunderstand the general licence system. It has nothing to do with breeding seasons. Basically it allows people to kill certain species if they are causing certain problems. In many instances a specific licence would need to be applied for but currently under general licences you don't need to. The challenge is around how those general licences are used and, I believe, monitored. People can still apply for a specific licence to control "pests".
I understand it fully, its just that it has been stopped immediately prior to the breeding season, so the numbers of pest species will go much higher, prior to the probable introduction of licences, in the future, that will again allow for culling.

It will take time for the licences to be issued, particularly if there is a rush from the landowners, that now want them.

It does give the body a chance to reconsider the scope of 'pest species' I would imagine.
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 20:22   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwinbermuda View Post
... as it seems to be a "first day in office, news grabbing headline.

....

I disagree with indiscriminate culling, but judicious culling I can live with, albeit uncomfortably.
It's nothing to do with the new boss's first day in office; it is the result of a court case brought by Mark Avery, Chris Packham, and other environmentalists, which showed that the current granting of general licences like confetti was illegal. It was exactly as you disagree with, indiscriminate culling, whereas the law states that "all other [non-lethal] options must be considered first before considering a cull". General licences were being granted illegally without considering non-lethal options first. This is what is being stopped.
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 20:26   #6
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Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
It's nothing to do with the new boss's first day in office; it is the result of a court case brought by Mark Avery, Chris Packham, and other environmentalists, which showed that the current granting of general licences like confetti was illegal. It was exactly as you disagree with, indiscriminate culling, whereas the law states that "all other [non-lethal] options must be considered first before considering a cull". General licences were being granted illegally without considering non-lethal options first. This is what is being stopped.
now that I can understand,
Thanks, H
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Old Wednesday 24th April 2019, 21:25   #7
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Originally Posted by hwinbermuda View Post
I understand it fully, its just that it has been stopped immediately prior to the breeding season, so the numbers of pest species will go much higher, prior to the probable introduction of licences, in the future, that will again allow for culling.

It will take time for the licences to be issued, particularly if there is a rush from the landowners, that now want them.

It does give the body a chance to reconsider the scope of 'pest species' I would imagine.
Apols if I misunderstood your post.

Personally I suspect that the number of licences applied for won't be that high simply because in many cases they won't be able to show that they've used and failed with other methods. Its amusing (or not) that so many farmers and shooters are now citing impacts on Curlew and Lapwings when I have watched local farmers happily rotivate a field with several pairs of the latter sitting on eggs.
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 06:20   #8
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And the considered response of the little darlings (or Pests, choose your own word) affected by these restrictions:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-englan...shire-48050361

Last edited by ChrisKten : Friday 26th April 2019 at 06:22.
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 12:13   #9
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The ironic thing here is that the RSPB and other conservation bodies, can no longer cull corvids to protect threatened ground nesting birds, which are on the red list. Timing could not be worse!

I just don’t think it’s been thought through; yes farmers and the hunting fraternity have a lot to answer for, regarding reduced biodiversity in the UK, but this just doesn’t sit right with me, what Avery and Packham have done.

On one hand Packham has previously stated that its ok to cull deer by shooting, but now it appears not so with corvids? In high densities, both deer and corvids, have a detrimental impact of UK biodiversity, so what’s the difference? Seems like mixed messages to me?

I’m starting to think that this is payback for Avery’s failed attempt to the get the Hen Harrier Brood Management stopped (I actually contributed to his crowd funding on that one), as they have now miffed off the shooting mob and not for the first time recently, Natural England have been made to look totally incompetent.

Also I Saw an RSPB post this morning, where they stated that Natural England were expecting to issue new licences next week. Well I hope they are not individual case by case licences, as Natural England do not currently have enough Wildlife Advisors to deal with the issuing of other licences e.g. to shoot fish eating birds.

It’s a complete and utter farce IMHO!

Last edited by NAB : Friday 26th April 2019 at 12:15.
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 14:28   #10
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From what I understand, up until yesterday, there were about 50,000 general licences, if each of these has to be assessed before re-issuing, either by phone consultation or site visit, there is no way NE has enough staff to cope. So this breeding season, where many ground nesting species are given some protection by means of the general licence, will probably now be a write-off. Secondly, a number of general licences were part of a sites' Stewardship agreement where corvids in particular were being culled to given the red listed ground nesting waders (and other species) a chance to produce a few young. I wonder if these will be given priority or fast tracked where there is an important positive conservation gain?, which is also part of the Stewardship agreement.
Will the Wild Justice group do a crowdfunding to pay the wages of the new NE staff that will need to be recruited to cover all the reassessment work they've just created?

A site I survey and have done for the past 25 years has breeding Lapwing and Redshank and I had my first Lapwing chicks (three broods) this morning. I wonder how they'll do now the site management staff have had to stop the successful corvid control they've been doing up till now (Since they started corvid (Carrion Crow only) control five years ago (under general licence as part of the stewardship agreement) Lapwing have gone from three pairs fledging one young, to sixteen pairs fledging 14 young last year). Up until they started corvid control the Lapwing population had dropped from 25 pairs to three and the corvid population had increased to days when each field would be patrolled by pairs of crows to the detriment of the breeding birds (Skylark and Meadow Pipit numbers have increased too over the same time span).
It is shockingly poor timing and could have waited until the end of the current breeding season.

I cynically hope there are a huge number of breeding season failures as a result of this action this season and Wild Justice realise what a huge mistake they made, if not with the action taken, but with the timing of it.
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Old Saturday 27th April 2019, 10:25   #11
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Wild Justice are hardly responsible for the timing; they have been in discussions with Natural England for some time to try to stop this illegal dishing out of licences, and the court of course has its own timescales. Posters above seem to think breaking the law, as NE have been doing, is OK if the licences being shelled out like sweeties are going to the good people. If you disagree with the law of England then lobby Parliament to get it changed.
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