If we can’t do this – isn’t it time someone explained exactly what you are allowed to do? People have mentioned the BASC website but I don’t have a computer.

Shooting legal expert


The law is vague and in many ways this is no bad thing. The bottom line is that the woodpigeon is an agricultural pest and needs to be controlled.

That is why general licences are issued. In Wales you may shoot for the purposes of crop protection, not sport, but (unlike in England and Scotland) you do not need to satisfy yourself beforehand that non-lethal methods of control are either ineffective or impractical.

In most cases the reality is that non-lethal methods are ineffective as far as woodpigeons are concerned.

Pigeons range over a wide area and you are protecting crops even if you are not actually shooting over the crop in question.

From what you say I believe your shooting is protecting crops. Viewing licences via the BASC website is the easiest way to do it.

If you don’t have a computer you will need to obtain a paper copy of the licence from Natural England or the equivalent in the devolved governments.

In Scotland, but not in England and Wales, it is a legal requirement that you read the licence before you go shooting.

It is important to note that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different licences and you cannot assume that what is lawful in one country is lawful in the others.

You must read and understand the licence that applies to the country in which you are shooting.

  • Anne Story

    I live in a small hamlet surrounded by fields,from any field on this farm, houses are not far away. Our little hamlet seems to suffer from a group of men who enjoy putting half dead Pigeons on a contraption that spins around, which attracts other pigeons, then they shoot the birds from a hide. I called the Police today because these people shoot above our houses which has meant dead birds dropping into out garden,a car was showered with pelts. When residents of our little hamlet complain about the danger involved in living amoungst the fields in which this activity is going on they say they have permission of the farmer and they are shooting them to reduce vermin. The trouble is that last year all the birds locally were wiped out by the shooting and the pesticides used on the cropes. What I find particularly distastful is that today I saw that they had winged a bird and let it flap away as means of attracting even more birds to the shoot feast. I called the police in the hope that reason would prevail, but I was told that a bullet would have to penetrate my window before they would actual do anything. I find hunting with hounds less distasteful as at least the fox has a fighting chance there is no sport in this inhuman cull of what is classed as vermin in the law.

    I understand that people enjoy shooting things but the way these people endanger the lives of residents and deal with the pigeons, and are allowed to get away with it by law is beyond a joke.