The year-round management of two species of gulls is to continue in Scotland, but with a warning that evidence of the practice being carried out must be submitted or the legal basis for control could be removed.
The Lesser Black-backed gull and the Herring gull are to remain on a number of general licences which permit the control of some bird species for specific reasons. Gamekeepers, wildlife managers and shooters in Scotland rely on the general licences, issued by the Scottish Government, for their pest control operations.
Lesser Black-backed gulls can be serious predators of the eggs and chicks of waders, waterfowl and grouse in many parts of the country. A general licence allows authorised individuals to kill or take the gulls for the conservation of wild birds. Authorised people are landowners or those with their permission.
Given the conservation status of the Lesser Black-backed gull, there has been a specific requirement for those managing it to report how many of the birds have been taken. Very few such reports were received for 2008. Consequently, in a recent consultation, it was suggested that Lesser Black-backed gulls should be removed from the general licence to protect wild birds.
BASC Scotland argued that there was not enough evidence to justify such a move. The Scottish Government has now announced that the gull will remain on the general licence for the conservation of wild birds as well as those protecting public health and safety and air safety. Retention of these licences will be subject to further review from 2009 and 2010 returns. Details of how to make returns can be found on the general licences page of the BASC website at www.basc.org.uk/en/shooting/general-licences.cfm
BASC Press and Policy Officer Nicolle Upton said “We are appealing to all shooters to submit their cull reports by the 31st January 2010 if they want Lesser Black-backed gulls to remain on these licences. Managing Lesser Black-backed gulls at critical times of the year is often vital to protect and maintain other wild bird populations.”