Endangered birds under fire

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

Shot under licence granted by Natural England

Enquiries made by The Moorlander have revealed that dozens of rare birds have been shot under licences granted by Natural England. Some of these birds feature on the red list as critically endangered.

Whilst some culls were granted to preserve air safety, many shoots have been granted on the grounds of preserving public health or safety. Wrens, Robins and Ringed Plovers have all had licences issued against them on these grounds. Wrens stand at a height of around 6cm but have been deemed a danger to the public on some occasions. Red list species approved for shooting include: Herring Gulls, Curlews, House Sparrows, Starlings, Ringed Plovers and Skylarks.

A number of other birds approved for killing also feature on the amber list, meaning their population is declining rapidly but not quite as severely as those on the red list. James Diamond, Natural England’s Operations Director told The Moorlander, “All wild birds are protected by law. However, for almost 40 years licences have been issued for bird control under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in certain circumstances, such as to protect the public. This could be where a bird is trapped in food preparation premises or is posing a threat of bird-strike at an airport.

‘These licence applications are carefully considered by our experts – including our ornithologists where necessary – and are only granted when all other measures have been explored. The number of birds that may be killed is strictly limited and won’t harm the conservation status of any species.”

James added “Licences are only granted once five tests have been met. Applicants must demonstrate (with supporting evidence): that actual damage or a problem is occurring; that the species is actually causing the damage or problem; that other reasonable and practical non-lethal alternatives have been considered; that the action is proportionate; and that the conservation status of the species will not be negatively affected.”

The Moorlander has requested information on how many shoots have been approved per species but has yet to receive a response from Natural England.

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