New general licence for controlling carrion crows comes into force
Natural England has published the first of the new general licences for controlling birds.
The licence starts to replace the previous general licences for controlling carrion crows, a priority species for farmers looking to protect against damage to livestock.
Further licences are scheduled to be introduced at pace over the coming days and weeks.
The new licence is part of Natural England’s urgent work to identify alternative solutions for all those affected by the decision last Tuesday (23 April) to revoke three general licences for controlling certain wild birds.
Further general licences will be issued as quickly as possible, starting with those species that are most likely to require urgent control.
Natural England has said, “this will mean landowners can continue to take the necessary action as they do now, while also taking into account the needs of wildlife”.
Those who need to control wild birds in the circumstances described in this licence, for example where crows cause harm to new lambs, can now do so without further steps: there is no need to apply for an individual licence.
For people in other circumstances who need to take urgent action before new general licences are issued, Natural England has also published an online application system for individual wild bird control licences.
Natural England has said:
“The decision to revoke these licences was not taken lightly.
“Natural England explored all other options available but was left with no choice but to revoke the licences.
“This was done to protect people with legitimate reasons to control wildlife from committing offences by acting outside the law”.
Natural England’s interim chief executive Marian Spain said:
“This new license should give peace of mind to landowners who need to shoot to control certain wildlife that they can do so within the law.
“I recognise, as does my team at Natural England, that the interim measures announced earlier this week will cause disruption for licence users.
“This is not a ban on control, it is a change to the licences that allow control to take place.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure new licences are in place as soon as possible which cover other species and situations.
“I hope the fact that we have been able to provide this one earlier than first indicated is a sign of our commitment to resolve this problem as soon as we are able and ensure landowners can continue to take necessary action.”
Natural England has said it is committed to working with farmers, pest controllers, gamekeepers and other professionals who rely on these licences to ensure everyone who needs to control the 16 species of wild birds covered by the revoked general licences can.
What to do if you use a general licence
You can see the interim options for lethal bird control in this help article.
It is expected that, over time, most situations currently covered by the three general licences will be covered by new licences.
Natural England is undertaking new licensing assessments to support lethal control of certain birds in defined situations.
The first of these new licences are now in place to prevent serious damage to livestock from carrion crow.