At this time of national emergency, Wild Justice is appealing for money to challenge the legality of general licences in Wales

The day after the UK saw a 26% surge in coronavirus infections (17 March 2020) Wild Justice announced that its lawyers had filed an application for a judicial review of Natural Resources Wales’s (NRW’s) issuing of general licences on 1 January 2020.  

The group also announced that it is seeking to raise £42,500 through crowdfunding to pay legal costs. On its website it requests: “Please give generously to enable us to mount this challenge.”

“Wholly inappropriate”

Steve Griffiths, British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) Wales director, said: “It seems wholly inappropriate for Wild Justice to launch this further action when the people of Wales are panicking about their lives and livelihoods. This action is incredibly out of touch with the national mood.

“This action by Wild Justice isn’t just an attack on the countryside, it also presents a wholly unnecessary diversion to NRW and the Welsh government at a time when it is rightly giving all of its attention to the problems being thrown up by Coronavirus.”

Charles Nodder of the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) commented: “This is nothing about conservation. Wild Justice is again weaponizing the wildlife licensing system simply to attack shooting. What benefit can come from this for the wildlife in Wales, such as declining waders like the curlew? It’s a nonsense and the NGO will resist any further erosion of wildlife licensing, whether in Wales or further afield.”

New general licences

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) released details of three new general licences to control some wild birds in Wales at the beginning of the year.

GL001 – (prevention of serious damage to crops and livestock) authorises the killing or taking of Canada goose, carrion crow, jackdaw, feral pigeon, magpie and wood pigeon, including  damaging or destroying nests and taking or destroying  eggs. It authorises the use of carrion crow, jackdaw and magpie as decoys in cage traps.

GL002 – (preservation of public health ) authorises the killing or taking of feral pigeon, including damaging or destroying their nests and taking or destroying their eggs.

GL004 – (conservation of wild birds) authorises the killing or taking of carrion crow, jackdaw, jay and magpie including damaging or destroying nests and taking or destroying eggs. It also authorises the use of carrion crow, jackdaw, jay and magpie as decoys in cage traps.

Wild Justice complains that: “Although NRW identify the purposes of their general licences (eg nature conservation, protecting crops from serious damage, human health etc) they do not identify the circumstances under which there is no non-lethal alternative to using lethal control. This, we argue, is unlawful and amounts to allowing casual killing of otherwise protected birds.”

The group is seeking to have jackdaw, jay and magpie removed from GL004.