Laws which cover control of pest birds in Northern Ireland are to remain unchanged for the next 12 months. General licences are issued by government agencies to provide a legal basis for people to use a range of methods to control certain species of birds classed as pests.

The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), monitors general licences across the UK and works with issuing bodies for the benefit of shooting. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has confirmed to BASC that the general licence renewals in Northern Ireland took place with no change and will be in place until 10th September 2013.
General licences are renewed annually in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  They are made available on the websites of the relevant government agencies and allow the year-round control of pest birds such as magpie and woodpigeon.  Permitted control methods allowed under general licence may include shooting, the destruction of eggs and nests, and the use of Larsen traps and multi-catch traps.
People do not need to apply for general licences but are required by law to abide by their terms and conditions.
In Northern Ireland, general licences provide a legal basis for the control of woodpigeon, feral pigeon, crow, magpie, rook, jackdaw, great black-backed gull, herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, house sparrow and starling. 
BASC’s Conor O’Gorman said: “Northern Ireland’s 60,000 firearms certificate holders carry out vital wildlife management services in their efforts to help protect wildlife, crops, livestock, growing timber, fisheries and public health and safety. General licences ensure that these services are not hindered by red tape and Northern Ireland’s Environment Agency’s no-nonsense approach to the renewals is very welcome. Those responsible for last minute changes and the introduction of ever increasing complexities to the general licences in England, Scotland and Wales should take note.”
To view the general licences, click here.

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