BASC says it has serious reservations regarding the introduction by Natural England (NE) of a new quota system for the control of two species of gull.

Following their removal from the general licences in England last year over concerns about their conservation status, NE has today issued details of individual licences for controlling herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls.

The licences will be prioritised for human life and health over conservation, and decisions will be split between rural and urban areas.

NE has also set a quota on the number of herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls taken, this has been set at the equivalent of five per cent of expected natural mortality.

Caroline Bedell, executive director of conservation at BASC, said: “The issue of controlling these species is a significant problem for a small number of individuals and businesses, but BASC holds serious reservations about quota system’s feasibility.

“As an immediate priority, we are advising those affected that they must make sure they apply for the new licences before the 15 March deadline imposed by NE.

“It remains to be seen whether NE treat people applying for licences fairly and equally, especially as there is nothing in law that provides a roadmap as to how licensing decisions should be prioritised. We will be monitoring this licensing period extremely closely.

“There are some wider implications to this announcement, not least of which is the manner in which NE is going about its business as the licensing agency. The timing of this announcement is again cause for concern following the mishandling of the general licences last year.

“BASC is making it absolutely clear to Natural England that decisions impacting the shooting community need to be made well enough in advance of any expected impact and not behind closed doors.

“On the ground experience is just as important as scientific evidence when it comes to wildlife management and the people with that real-world experience must be listened to if Natural England is to have any credibility with the rural community.”

You can read the full announcement from Natural England here. If you have any questions you can call the BASC gamekeeping department on 01244 573019.

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