The National Gamekeeper’s Organisation (NGO) has accused Natural England (NE) of ignoring anecdotal evidence from gamekeepers that great black-backed gulls and herring gulls predate on rare bird species such as blackgrouse, curlew and redshank. The news comes after NE announced on 30 September that the two native gull species had been removed from the new General Licences, which are due to be implemented on 1 January 2010.

Defending the controversial decision, NE’s Dr Matthew Heydon told Shooting Times: “The populations of both these gull species are vulnerable… and no hard evidence supporting the claim that these gulls pose a major threat to England’s most rare and vulnerable ground-nesting birds was received in response to this consultation.”

The NGO told Shooting Times that the Government body has completely dismissed its consultation response on the matter. Lindsay Waddell, chairman of the NGO, commented: “The NGO submitted an extensive response outlining how numerous gamekeepers have witnessed these gulls predating on Red List bird species. These gulls take eggs and chicks up to eight weeks old. There have been substantial losses incurred as a direct result of gulls. I have written to Helen Phillips, the chief executive of NE, to point out its complete failure to take on board the views of those that actually work and live in the countryside.”

The rest of this article appears in 28th October issue of Shooting Times.

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