The UK Revokes its Licences for Pigeon and Crow Shooting by Archie Davis- Gunstar
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The UK Revokes its Licences for Pigeon and Crow Shooting

Pest bird shooting has been a staple and necessary act of rural lifestyle in England for as long as we can remember. It’s been carried out by millions of farmers, landowners and conservation enthusiasts for a very, very long time and without any real issues or threats to these species. Despite this, government agencies in England have decided to ban the vast majority of shooting for crow, pigeon, goose and many more - largely down to a campaign projected by TV presenter Chris Packham.

The controversial decision has been proposed by Natural England which is the environmental agency sector of the UK Government. They’ve said that three separate licenses will be revoked as of tomorrow (25th April 2019), all of which revolve around the population control of wild bird species in England. They’ve stated that the combined licences incorporate around sixteen different bird species, mainly from the Crow, Pigeon and Gull families, as well as Canada Geese.

Despite the decision from the English Government, there’s been no response or comment from the rest of the UK (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales).


wood Pigeon


This all started in February of this year when well-known TV presenter Chris Packham started up a new project by the name of Wild Justice; a non-profit organisation who will do all they can to ‘Fight for Wildlife’. Most of the teams' work involves challenging laws and legalities already set out by the UK government. Packham used crowdfunding to help get the project underway and his first so-called ‘success’ will be this challenge on our General Licences. The Wild Justice team have made accusations that shooters across the country are taking advantage of current licences to shoot wildlife unlawfully. Many people are very concerned about how easily the government representatives rolled over and gave in to the plea from Packham and his team - who only launched the campaign two months ago.

Below are the details of the three specific licences that are under threat from Wild Justice’s project:

  • General licence GL04: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to prevent serious damage or disease

  • General licence GL05: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety

  • General licence GL06: To kill or take certain species of wild birds to conserve wild birds or flora or fauna

Currently, the full ins and outs of these licences are unclear and we only have a brief idea of what the changes will actually mean. There’s no unique licence that would prevent shooting birds for crop protection, but there are certain passages in GL04 which mention the protection of crops. It would be expected that Larsen traps are also included in some shape or form.

As expected everyone is a little shocked by the movement, but Natural England has released a statement of reassurance, saying that people are “working at pace to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary”.

But before any new decisions are in place, you’ll have to apply for an individual licence should you wish to use methods of control for any of these species. Unfortunately, it’s not very common to get access this way and it’ll pretty much be the same process as if you were looking to get a licence to shoot Raven. Even though it might be unlikely you’ll get hold of one of these, Natural England has stated that there will be an easier, amended application procedure for a licence, that will be released on Thursday.

A huge number of enthusiasts from throughout the country have shown rage and disapproval of the decision on social media channels:


social comments on the ban


There are, however, definite plans underway to try and restore some sort of faith for the public, as the Government has promised to work hard to ‘support the lethal control of certain birds’, in situations that put livestock and public safety at risk. More insightful updates on these licences will be available at the beginning of next week (29th April).

Archie Davis
Gunstar Chief Editor
Published on 24-04-2019
Archie has been on the management team at Gunstar UK since June 2018, and has since then been working to integrate the business with the shooting community. A skilled writer and self-taught country enthusiast, Archie has conducted numerous investigations into many of the industries unanswered questions to try and unify shooters all in one place; the Gunstar blog.