Changes to general licences for the control of wild birds for 2024

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has today (Wednesday 13 December 2023) published new general licences for the control of wild birds for the 2024 calendar year.

While all wild birds are protected by law, there are specific circumstances where NRW licences the lethal control of wild birds and the destruction of eggs and nests. These are for certain purposes, such as to protect public health or safety, to prevent serious damage to crops, livestock or livestock foodstuffs, or to conserve other species of wildlife. 

In 2022, NRW completed a review of its approach to licencing wild bird control. It was decided to continue to grant a number of general licences on an annual basis, to undertake periodic reviews in light of new evidence, and to consult a stakeholder group when there were proposed changes. 

Key new evidence was published in Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) Wales 2022, and following consultation with stakeholder bodies, we are making some changes to the general licences allowing lethal control for 2024. 

In particular, BoCC Wales 2022 highlights a 25-year decline in magpie populations in Wales, placing them on the Amber list. As a species of conservation concern, magpie will therefore not be included as a target species on General Licence GL001 for the purpose of preventing serious damage to livestock or foodstuffs for livestock. 

Other  changes for 2024 are: 

  • A recently notified SSSI, Scoveston Fort, is added to the list of SSSIs where the relevant general licences do not apply 
  • Cormorant, red kite, reed bunting and song thrush are no longer included as beneficiary species of GL004 (which allows the control of carrion crow for the purpose of conserving other wild bird species)Chaffinch, dunnock, garden warbler, Mediterranean gull and rook are added as beneficiary species of GL004. 

Nadia De Longhi, Head of Regulation and Permitting said: 

One of the recommendations agreed by NRW’s Board was to establish a review process for general licences to take place at approximately six-yearly intervals, intended to coincide with the periodic publication of Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) for Wales.  
The most recent BoCC was published late last year and includes some changes in the conservation status of birds in Wales. We have considered the implications of this in advance of issuing licences for 2024. 
We have tested our proposals with stakeholders before issuing the new general licences today, to ensure that we continue to deliver a licensing system which is effective, practical and proportionate for users, while providing the necessary protection for birds.

Anyone who intends to use lethal methods to control birds in situations that are not covered by a general licence can still apply for a specific licence. 

Find out more information here:  Natural Resources Wales / General licences for birds 2024