What has changed in the New General Licenses

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As of the first of January 2021 we will have new general licenses. While much of this will be familiar there are certain species that are no longer on there. As well as that, there are new justifications to be made about particular species too.

But why are the licenses being change? As you might you might remember from last year Wild Justice challenged DEFRA on the legalities around them. After a year of surveying and questioning the framework for these licenses has arrived.

Rook stood over a rabbit

The General licenses have been as we know them since 1990. After an EU lead directive the General License gave pest control a framework in terms of what species can be shot and when. This has continued until now and is the reason we don’t see all birds shot all the time. You’d expect a knock on the door and blue lights if you shot an Otter over your waterways.

The new licenses have one glaring omission from them which Gamekeepers should take note of. The Jackdaw and Rook are now protected with these licenses from damage done to gamebirds. The statements made suggest that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest they do enough damage to warrant control. License GL42 allows them to be protected from direct attack but you’d be hard pushed to find someone comfortable shooting over young gamebirds or livestock. The GWCT has stated that over 50% of the moorland keepers that responded had witnessed these birds taking eggs first hand.

Rook taking eggs now protected by general licenses

Conclusion

We’ve spoken previously on the importance of pest control and how without it, Britain’s landscape will change without it. To take a malevolent bird like the Rook off this list could have unquantifiable consequences. While taking these birds is permissible for the benefit of rare birds, many shoots in the UK won’t have any to an extent will never have them if these birds are protected.

As we have become used to the justifications to shoot pest species remains. In short, there has to be evidence of previous nonlethal attempts to solve the issues. As I’ve seen first hand if you’re in an area where adjacent farms are in close proximity the issue just moves cyclically in an area while growing in number. This is when lethal measures are brought in but it seemed inevitable that is would be the outcome.

A flock of rooks general licenses

Full disclosure on the new General Licenses will be finalised before the end of the year. While the changes are unfortunate the licenses are reviewed each year so these may not be set in stone. To read the Licenses click here for GL40,GL41, GL42

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