Bird control licences – what’s changed for 2012?

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In brief, there have been no major, but certainly some minor, changes to the Bird General and Class licences for 2012.

UK bird control licences issued under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (and subsequent amendments) are re-issued each year, generally on 1 January. Whilst there have been no significant alterations this year, it is always wise to double-check anything you are not sure of before undertaking any bird management activities.

Below is a round-up of what has altered.

England amends

  • Clarification of wording regarding statutory suspension of wildfowling to make it clearer that the licences can be used in these periods
  • Licence condition 10, word ‘should’ changed to ‘must’ – remove dead animals from traps upon inspection
  • List of Schedule 9 species corrected to include full list of species.

In December 2011 there was also a proposal by Natural England to remove hooded crows from the 2012 pest birds list. Many shooting organisations were concerned about this proposed last minute change as no evidence of the necessity was provided and it was being changed without the consultation of stakeholders. Agriculture Minister Jim Paice stepped in and asked that no changes were made to the imminent licences regarding the term crow. This point is to be clarified in 2012.

Full details suplied by Natural England can be found by clicking here.


  Hooded crow Hooded crow searching food from wastebag. 
© Thermos

Scotland amends

  • Removal from General Licence #4 (Licence to Protect Air Safety), of Condition 17: “Where there is reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed, the operator of a trap must reveal its location if required to do so by a constable”

With the commencement of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (WANE) all bird licensing responsibilities were transferred [from Scottish Government, Rural & Environment Directorate]to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as of 1 July 2011.

A consultation was carried out in 2011. This raised a concern that there are some ambiguities in the licences regarding trapping methods. SNH was not in a position to secure clarity by 1 January 2012 so no changes to trapping methods have yet come into force. Key stakeholders will be involved to take this work forward in 2012. The likely outcome is that traps will need to be approved in some cases.

Details from Scotland Natural Heritage can be found here.

The 2012 licences are basically the same as in 2011. There is due to be a consultation on the licences this year.

Details from the Welsh Government here.

Northern Ireland 
No changes made at all when the current licences were introduced back on 1 September 2011.

And for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency from here.

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