Herring gull
Herring gull


In England, if you want to control a species which is not covered by the general licences you must apply for licence A08- to kill, take or disturb wild birds to prevent disease or agricultural damage or licence A09- to kill, take or disturb wild birds for conservation or public health and safety.

As part of the application process you will be required to complete Natural England’s pre-screening process.

Natural England will only issue you with a licence if you can show that:

  • actual damage or a problem is occurring, or likely to occur – and the target species is causing it
  • you have tried non-lethal solutions, or you can show that they would not be effective or practical especially those provided on their guidance
  • there are no suitable alternative methods of control
  • action you take under the licence will contribute to preventing damage or resolving the problem
  • action you take under the licence will not negatively affect the conservation status of the wild bird.

If your application does not meet all these criteria, Natural England will reject your application.

During pre-screening you will be asked why you need to apply for a licence and will be given the following options:

  • Conserving wild birds, flora or fauna
  • Preserving public health and safety
  • Preventing spread of disease
  • Preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber
  • Air safety.

Then you will be asked which species you need to control and the number of wild birds you expect to control per species. You are then asked to explain the need for your licence, for example the species you need to conserve. You will need to provide evidence that your need for a licence is valid and that all non-lethal alternative methods to control the birds have failed, especially those mentioned in wildlife management advice notice: legal measures for managing wild birds (WML-GU01).

Natural England will email you within 10 working days on receiving your screening form and will advise whether they are likely to grant you the required licence. They will also send a screening reference number and the application form.

More information can be found here.


License A08 and A09 are free.

  • Proof of trying non-lethal methods first and why these have been ineffective.
  • Photographic and video evidence of damage.
  • Records of damage.

The response time following the screening process is 10 working days, then 30 working days to respond to an application with a decision.

If you are granted a licence, you must report any actions you take using it using the report form template LR08 or LR09 depending on which licence you were granted. This must be done within two weeks of your licence expiring, even if you take no action.

Your local BASC regional office.

In certain specific circumstances, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides a defence to killing or taking of a wild bird other than a bird included in Schedule 1, if a person carrying out such actions can show such action was necessary for the purpose of: preserving public health or public or air safety, preventing the spread of disease; or preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters and that there was no other satisfactory solution.

However, there are some reasons that the defence cannot be relied on. These include if a licence under section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 had not been applied for as soon as reasonably practical or if a licence application has been determined.

As part of the defence, you need to have notified the agricultural Minister as soon as possible after taking the action. The current agricultural Minister is Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP.

This defence is not available for certain species of birds – see Schedule 1 WCA 1981

To contact Natural England wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk or enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk.