Julie Robinson (@julierobinson_) has recently tweeted about Natural England’s new general licence for the control of pigeons by lethal methods where a commercial crop is under economic threat, making the point that some of the conditions are OTT (Over the Top). Julie makes particular mention of the section which requires a shooter to show that:
Any person using this licence must be able to show, if asked by an officer of Natural England or the Police:
(i) what type of crop any action under this licence is protecting;
(ii) what lawful methods have been, and are being, taken to prevent serious damage to such crops by woodpigeon or why the lawful methods have not been taken;
(iii) what measures have been and are being taken to minimise losses due to other species and causes; and
(iv) why the threat of serious damage from woodpigeon is sufficiently serious to merit action under this licence.
Licence users are advised to keep a record or log of crop damage and of efforts to address problems by legal methods.
Onerous indeed! The full licence can be seen here and it should be noted that towards the end of its nine pages is some specific advice on the control of pigeons in crops, guidance which is lacking from Natural England’s own publication, ‘Wildlife Management Advice Note, Legal measures to resolve conflict with wild birds, WML GU01, April 2019’
Although not a hunter or shooter myself on any regular basis we nevertheless all need to recognise that shooting and other methods of lethal control do have a place in responsible rural land management. And although Wild Justice‘s methods to challenge the legality of the old general licences have been confrontational and sensational (perhaps reflecting their chosen name) the underlying point about the need to consider a range of options in managing excessive numbers of wild animals – like weeds the wrong animal in the wrong place – is a valid one.
To this end I have therefore devised a Wild bird control checklist May 2019 which I hope simplifies the factors which should be considered by land managers and shooters and would offer some evidence to an ‘officer of Natural England or the Police’ if ever it is requested. It is offered free of use to anybody who wishes to use it in their own private capacity, naturally without obligation given the wide circumstances in which it may be used, and if any organisations or firms wish to add their own credentials (names, logo etc etc) they are welcome to contact me regarding this.
Views, suggestions, suggested amendments welcome but bear in mind I have tried to keep it all within two sides.