A grey squirrel
A grey squirrel

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Shooting and trapping

Mammalian predators

In England, Scotland and Wales mammals are protected under relevant schedules of the wildlife and countryside Act 1981. In Northern Ireland they are protected under the Wildlife Order, with some mammals afforded more protection depending on the schedule they are categorised in, and certain methods of control are also prohibited. 

Permitted control methods can include shooting, trapping and live catch traps. 

Avian pests and predators

All wild birds are protected, however they can be controlled under general licences issued by government agencies. These 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

General licences are renewed annually in England,Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland.

The general licences are made available on the websites of the relevant government agencies (such as NatureScot in Scotland ). They include 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.

Where there is a need to manage or control wildlife and such activity is not covered by a relevant general licence then an individual or specific licence may be applied for. These are issued by the relevant government agency in each country.

Codes of practice

Our codes are designed to help people to understand the laws and lore of different forms of shooting, and also to impart some basic, but essential, guidance on health and safety. Below are BASC codes of practice and best practice guidance associated with pest and predator control.