New general licences to control wild birds have been published by Defra

Commenting on new general licences which come into effect on 1 January 2021, Environment Secretary George Eustice commented: “Jackdaws and rooks will no longer be able to be controlled for conservation purposes because the evidence does not demonstrate that predation has a population-level effect on wild birds.”

However jackdaws and rooks can still be shot in order to protect crops in England, along with feral pigeons, woodpigeons, magpies and crows. Although farmers will have to show that they have tried alternative means of pest control before resorting to shooting, such as using regularly moved scarecrows. They must also prove that the crops are growing.

Liam Bell NGO chairman said to Shooting UK: ‘’It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind rooks and jackdaws being taken off the GL40 conservation licence, when 50% of the moorland keepers who were surveyed this spring had witnessed both species taking the eggs of wild birds. Furthermore, controlling crows and magpies under the same licence is now limited to helping red and amber listed birds, which means you can no longer use it to reduce the predation of the eggs and chicks of wild pheasants and red-legged partridge. ’’  He added that he was ‘’rather dismayed that Defra had made these substantial changes to the general licence without a proper public consultation. ’’

New general licences

The finalised licences, with details on protected sites and trapping – will be published later this year.