PETER THEOBALD says: As you probably know, the General Licence enables us in the UK to shoot certain species of birds all year round because of the damage they do to farm crops. It is an annual arrangement and is being continually reviewed by DEFRA.

Early last year there was a big kerfuffle in the shooting world when some of the conditions of the licence were altered within the small print. Had it not been for the sharp eyes of, I believe, BASC, the implications would have been disastrous for pigeon shooters.

Basically, we would have had to prove that (a) the pigeons were doing damage, and (b) that every other method of scaring birds off the crop had been tried, before resorting to shooting them.

Luckily, this was quickly resolved, but even so, technically we may only shoot pigeons during the breeding season for pest control purposes and not for sport only. By shooting birds as they flight to a field, you are preventing damage to a crop.

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