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Changes to general licences in Wales from 7 October

Natural Resources Wales has removed some key species from general licences, including rooks, jays, collared doves, feral pigeon and Canada geese.

Canada geese in flight

What you need to know about the changes to general licences in Wales which come into effect from 7 October 2019,

Changes to GL001, GL002 and GL004

GL001 – Issued for preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit or to prevent the spread of disease to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables or fruit. From 7 October this will not include rook, jay or collared dove.

GL002 – Preserving public health and preventing the spread of disease. From 7 October this will not include carrion crow, magpie, jackdaw, rook, jay, collared dove or wood pigeon.

GL004 – Conservation of wild birds. From 7 October this will not include rook, feral pigeon or Canada goose.

Existing general licences “not lawful”

Asked why changes to the existing general licences have been made Natural Resources Wales says: “In light of legal advice we concluded that some of our General Licences were not lawful.”


The government body says rooks have been excluded because: “Findings from the UK Breeding Bird Survey suggest that in Wales rook populations have significantly declined over both the long term (by 60% between 1994-2017) and in the short-term (by 50% between 2007-2017). Due to the significance of this population change, rook will not be included in the new General Licences.”

Specific species control

If a species needs controlling that is no longer included on a general licence Natural Resources Wales advises:

  • Apply for a specific licence from NRW
  • Applications for specific licences can be made at any time
  • Submit evidence – photographic or video –  to support the application, including steps taken to deter the birds and evidence of damage they are causing or are likely to cause.

Reaction from shooting community

BASC Wales director, Steve Griffiths, said: “The changes put forward by NRW are far-reaching and will affect all users of the licensing system. Anyone who requires the use of a general licence after 7th October will need to read and abide by the new conditions or risk breaking the law.”

The GWCT commented: “The GWCT and other rural organisations have made our concerns very clear to NRW who have ignored our science and advice and have not provided any scientific or legal justification for making the proposed changes.”

The rural community affected by changes to general licences is being encouraged to complete a new survey from the GWCT which will be submitted to Defra, with the aim of enabling Defra to make an informed decision, “defying challenges made by activists”.