DEFRA issues three new discretionary bird kill licences

The government has issued three new general licences for the discretionary killing of certain bird species, after the withdrawal of its former bird control licences sparked an outcry among landowners.

The new licences come into effect from today, allowing landowners and tenants to lethally control some birds including jackdaws, magpies and rooks, under certain circumstances such as where there is “serious damage” to agriculture, forestry and aquaculture, providing they justify why alternative non-lethal measures could not be applied.

Wildlife regulator Natural England ended the old practice of killing 16 bird species under  general licences in April in a bid to avoid a judicial review. In May it handed responsibility for the general licence scheme to DEFRA, following growing pressure from landowners, gamekeepers and farmers.

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