Campaign group, Wild Justice started a legal challenge against the General Licence system that allows corvid persecution
As a result, Natural England announced the revocation of the General Licences GL04, GL05 and GL06 (from 25 April 2019)
The central thrust of Wild Justice’s argument was that there were no proven grounds for control. They concluded: of the five corvid species considered there is no good scientific evidence that four of the species (Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw and Rook) cause any population-level problems for nature conservation whatsoever. There is therefore no scientific justification for issuing open general licences for their lethal control in order to protect wild birds. For the Carrion Crow there is scientific evidence of a problem in specific circumstances but lethal control of Carrion Crows is addressing the symptoms of mismanagement of the countryside rather than their cause.
Wild Justice were asking that specific licences that are applied for should replace the General Licence; and indeed we have previously met Natural England’s licensing team and pressed for the same thing, but from the perspective that the Animal Welfare Act cannot be enforced without an applied for licence, and focussing on the abuses.
However, as we know, BASC have a partnership agreement with Natural England, and on 14th June 2019 Natural England reinstated the General Licences GL04, GL05 and GL06.
We have noted that in some ways the new licence has been weakened; as before a requirement that proofing and scaring must have been tried before lethal methods were considered, has been replaced with before using this licence, reasonable endeavours must have been made ………… (unless their use would be impractical, without effect or disproportionate in the circumstances.
So while it has been a good year, we are back to square one, and everyone needs to do what they can to expose the cruelty and abuses of these horrendous traps.