Why Gove stripped Natural England of its general bird kill licensing powers

Natural England’s shock withdrawal of three discretionary bird control licences at the end of April drew fire from landowners, shooting organisations, farmers and even some conservationists.

The regulator revoked the general licences in a bid to avoid a judicial review brought by Chris Packham’s legal outfit Wild Justice, which claimed the licences were unlawful, and after taking legal advice, Natural England backed down rather than put licence-holders in the unwitting position of operating illegally.

As the furore built, the regulator quickly issued a number of bird-specific replacement licences for the carrion crow, wood pigeon and the Canada goose - valid only under certain circumstances - and said new individual licences would be required for the remaining birds.

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