If proposals contained within a recent public consultation are adopted, it could soon become a legal requirement for those conducting pest control in Scotland to explain to police, if asked, why shooting pigeon is more cost-effective than scaring them away.

Responding to the Scottish Executive (SE) proposal, shooting and country groups have highlighted the fact that such a condition on an open general licence would ?gold plate? European Union law unnecessarily. The proposal has echoes of the debacle in England and Wales back in 2005, which saw DEFRA effectively make pigeon shooting illegal for a short period while it resolved technical wording of the annually issued licences.

The SE?s public consultation on amendments to the general licences under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act featured several major proposals, including, on the new SEGEN 1 open general licence ? also known as the Land managers? licence ? the requirement that: Any person using this licence must have considered alternative non-lethal methods of control, be convinced that such methods could not work without excessive cost and be able to explain their reasoning to a police officer if so asked.

Significantly, the SE also states: The conditions of the control licences have been tightened to ensure that the licences are not used as an excuse to ?cull? certain species on the basis that they are considered a pest species. Such a move would bring into question the current legal basis of pigeon shooting in Scotland.

For more on this story and details of shooting organisation’s reaction, see this week’s 19 April issue of Shooting Times.