In a public consultation on existing General Licences, launched on 1 September, the Welsh Assembly Government has proposed adding Canada geese, removing certain gull species, and changing the law on Larsen trapping.

BASC?s Conor O?Gorman explained: ?The consultation proposes wide-ranging changes to the General Licences that allow the control of many species of pest birds. If General Licences did not exist there would be no woodpigeon shooting and you would not be able to use Larsen traps, so proposals to change any aspect of their wording need close scrutiny.?

The proposals also include allowing for the control of the non-native ruddy duck, as well as removing from the General Licences, house sparrows, starlings, herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and great black-backed gulls.

There would also be a new requirement to inspect Larsen traps at least once in every 24-hour period unless severe weather conditions prevent it.

Controversially, the Welsh Assembly Government proposes Larsen traps should also be marked with a unique code provided by a local wildlife crime officer, so the owner can be identified by police, as is the case in Scotland.

Shooter Noel Hulmston runs a small wild bird shoot on the Llyn Peninsula, in North Wales, and runs Cydbwsedd Naturiol Cymru, which manages invasive, feral and pest species in Wales.

He told Shooting Times magazine that though he agreed with many of the proposals, some need to be rethought: ?I agree that Canada geese need to be on a General Licence. This would give parity with England. Welsh Assembly Government personnel are quite quick in dealing with licences, but much crop damage can occur between geese arriving in spring pasture and a licence being granted.?

However, Mr Hulmston said the new rules for traps were not needed: ?Larsen traps are essential for all gamekeepers and, to the best of my knowledge, are never abused.?

He also said gulls are not only an agricultural pest, but a major problem in seaside towns.

?They should remain on the General Licences and there should be new provisions to allow a cull in towns where they plague people and rubbish bins.?

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers? Organisation said aligning the Welsh General Licences with the English equivalents is long overdue: ?Consistency between all the Home Nations is important to aid public understanding of General Licences. An announcement following the English consultation earlier this year is expected at the end of September. We will consider the Welsh proposals in light of that. We will strive to ensure pest control continues unaffected.?

The consultation closes on 24 November.

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