General licences – what is the fuss all about?!

I have been a very keen volunteer in the BASC North region for several years; however, the amount of shooting that I have been doing myself has been extremely limited. Therefore I was so pleased to have been invited to do some crop protection on the pigeons towards the end of summer this year.  

I had never had a day pigeon shooting and with the general licence recently being under the microscope I thought I would write a few words regarding it. The reason I have chosen the general licence for the topic of this article is because when the issue came to light, it became apparent that the whole subject was often misunderstood by shooters.

So firstly, what is the general licence…

General licences are issued by government agencies to provide a legal basis for people to carry out a range of activities relating to wildlife. By definition you do not need to apply for general licences but you are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions. General licences are renewed annually in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These general licences are made available on the websites of the relevant government agencies and include those general licences relevant to the all year round control of ‘pest birds’ such as carrion and hooded crows, magpies and woodpigeon. Control methods allowed under general licence may include shooting; the destruction of eggs and nests; and the use of cage traps such as larsen traps, larsen mates and multi-catch traps.


This is a definition taken from the General Licence section of the BASC website; there is also much more information on the new licenses to be found on BASC’s website, along with a number of websites for government agencies so there is no excuse for not knowing the dos and don’ts before going out to carry out ‘pest control’. Please educate yourselves; our community is under threat from pressure groups as I am sure you are all aware, so if we can all stay on the right side of the law and show everyone that we are actually good people doing the right thing, then I feel that shooting may be held in a much better light.

Finally, a reminder that some changes are still being made to the licences so make sure you know and understand the general licence for the area in which you are shooting.

I hope this has raised a little more awareness and maybe answered some question for some readers. I wish everyone the best of luck for the season.

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