Bird shooting ban: Farmers urge Michael Gove to intervene

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

The Environment Secretary is coming under pressure to intervene after Natural England banned the shooting of crows, pigeons and magpies on farmland.

A total of 16 bird species have now been banned for lethal control, meaning that farmers will have to apply for licences to shoot birds that are threatening crops.

In an open letter The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) described the sudden ban as “disastrous” to both farmers and the wider countryside balance.

Farmers in the South West have experienced issues in obtaining licences since, after the Natural England website crashed due to surge in applications.

The ban came as a result of a legal challenge made by BBC naturist Chris Packham which saw Natural England back down and issue the ban.
In response, the famous naturalist had to two dead crows hung over his gate and received “detailed” death threats against him and his family.

In an an open letter to Mr Gove demanding an investigation, BASC condemned the recent attack on Mr Packham’s home, but claimed the new licensing rules are causing havoc in rural areas at one of the busiest times of the farming calendar.

The letter stated: “This sudden legal change has caused enormous problems and concern for everyone reliant on general licences, and their withdrawal has come at the worst possible time of year, when lambs, young crops, and nesting birds including curlew and lapwing, are all in most need of protection from marauding “pest” birds,” the letter stated.

Signatories of the letter included the Moorland Association, the National Farmers’ Union and Game Farmers’ Association.

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