General License to control wild birds lawful but final hurdle not yet cleared, FUW warns

The FUW breathed a sigh of relief after Natural Resources Wales successfully defended General Licences to control certain wild birds in the High Court after campaigning body Wild Justice brought a legal challenge. The ruling means that the challenged General Licences can continue to be used to control certain wild bird species. The General Licences are available for the purpose of preventing serious damage or disease to crops or livestock, protecting public health and conserving certain species of wild birds. 

It means that sheep farmers can approach the lambing season knowing they can protect new born lambs from crow attacks, just as they can attempt to prevent wood pigeons inflicting damage and economic losses up to £1250 per hectare in brassica plantations. However, the final hurdle has not been cleared yet, as NRW are reviewing their approach to regulating the shooting and trapping of wild birds in Wales.

FUW Land Use Committee chairman Tudur Parry said: “The High Court ruling means that farmers' rights to control certain bird species through the now retained General Licences are maintained, however common sense needs to prevail during this current review in order not to further erode farmers’ ability to protect their businesses.” 

Responding to the review of NRW’s approach to regulating the shooting and trapping of wild birds in Wales, the FUW previously highlighted that any call for evidence in the review process should value the experience and knowledge of country people who have lived and worked in the rural landscape, as highly as published academic evidence.