It is never stupid to ask a question if by so doing you avoid making a silly mistake.
Most birds and many mammals have protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Scottish Wildlife and Natural Environment Act.
If you wish to shoot or trap a protected bird you need a licence to do so.
Licences may be individual or general. An individual licence, as the name suggests, is issued to a named individual and you have to make a special case to the licensing authority for each licence you need.
Examples would include shooting cormorants at a fishery, controlling brent goose damage to crops and killing certain gulls to protect nesting birds.
A general licence is open to anyone to make use of and you don?t need to make a special application.
Details are published on the BASC web site at www. basc.org.uk/en/shooting/generallicences.cfm
Different licences are in force in England, Wales and Scotland.
What matters is that you carefully read the licence to ensure that what you plan to do falls within its terms.
Pest birds such as corvids, woodpigeon, collared doves and feral pigeon are on all the general licences whilst gulls, parakeets, some geese and the Ruddy Duck are on a more limited range of licences.
Generally you are only allowed to resort to the gun or the trap if other methods of control are impractical.
This is a matter on which you have to satisfy yourself based on your experience and the advice of others.
Fundamentally birds would not be on general licence if they didn?t need to be controlled so satisfying yourself that the gun or trap are the best option seldom presents any difficulties.