BASC will offer its expertise to Natural England to ensure the outcome of a recently-announced review of the general licences for “pest” bird species in England is positive for conservation and wildlife management.

General licences allow the necessary control of specific species in order to prevent damage to crops or for other reasons such as conservation, disease prevention, and to protect public health and safety.

They are issued annually by Natural England and separately by the relevant authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is not necessary to apply for or to have a copy of the licences, but people who control these birds must abide by the relevant licence conditions. The current licences will remain valid.

BASC’s Glynn Evans said: “General licences are a valid and appropriate method of permitting wildlife management long recognised by government. We look forward to an opportunity to work with Natural England during the review to help ensure a common sense approach and a positive outcome for conservation and wildlife management.”

Sarah Turner, a member of BASC Council and chair of its England committee, said: ““General licences were introduced more than 25 years ago as a legal necessity to comply with European law. The principle was simple – to permit people to continue to carry out necessary controls of pest bird species.

“These licences help control species such as woodpigeon, which is the UK’s number one agricultural pest and causes millions of pounds of damage to agricultural crops every year.”

BASC last week announced it was seeking a meeting with the new chair of Natural England to emphasise how sustainable shooting can enhance the environment.

And the association welcomed a decision by the High Court which allows Natural England to research whether brood management can improve hen harrier numbers. 

A BASC film on pigeon shooting can be seen here.

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