As a shooter you may participate in other branches of shooting or pest control along with wildfowling. The information below will hopefully help you to understand the legal requirements of shooting and pest control as laid out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 and the amendments to the same and the Pest Control Act 1954. Further information can be found on the DEFRA website by following the links at the foot of this page.

Changes in the General Licence 2010

‘General Licences’ enable people to carry out activities affecting bird species that would be unlawful under wildlife legislation but which are deemed necessary in order to prevent public health and safety problems, serious damage to crops or disruption to native wildlife. Reviews of General Licences are carried out periodically to ensure that the licences address emerging circumstances and conservation issues. The latest review ensures that the licence framework remains up to date and is able to target the increasing impact of non-native species - recognised as a major global conservation problem.

From the 1st January 2010, changes to the general licences to permit the control of certain species of birds in England have been made. Individuals do not need to apply for special local licences or to hold copies of the general licences. Anyone shooting listed pest species under general licence must however still comply with the relevant terms and conditions. Sporting shooting alone is not a reason for control according to the conditions. The Ring-necked and Monk parakeet will be added to the licence for preventing serious damage to crops and for conserving wild birds. The Monk parakeet will also be added to the licence for preserving public health or public safety. If challenged, the individual would have to show that any shooting of Canada geese or other species was carried out in accordance with the terms of the appropriate general licence. Canada geese and Egyptian geese will be added to the licence for conserving wild birds. The bird pest quarry list covered under the "General Licence" will include the following :- Woodpigeon, Feral pigeon, Crow, Rook, Magpie, Jackdaw, Jay, Collared doves. The Canada Goose and Egyptian Goose so their numbers can be controlled.

The following reasons on the General licences for the following quarry will be the only acceptable ones. Great black-backed gull will, in future, only be listed on the air safety licence, while the Herring Gull will be listed on the air safety licence and, for egg and nest destruction only, on the public health and public safety licence. The trapping and release of house sparrow, starling, robin and blackbird will be included on a new public health and public safety licence available to food production and handling premises. Sparrows and Starlings were removed from the quarry list for conservation reasons, but they may still be controlled where they pose a problem and where a specific licence has been applied for and granted.   Canada geese cause problems for agriculture and public health and their addition to the general licence was seen as a rational move. The provision for Canada geese will apply only in the close season for this species. Bird pest control otherwise remains mostly unchanged but some alterations will be made to the conditions. These are largely technical and are designed to ensure that the general licences are seen to fully meet the requirements of European law.

General Licence Questions and Answers

Do I need to get a licence?

No, the individual does not need to apply. The General Licence is a blanket document issued by a Government Minister and gives permission to all authorised persons eg the landowner or persons acting with their permission,

Can I still use "Larsen Traps"?

Cage traps, such as the Larsen live-catch trap will have to be inspected at least once every 24 hours (as now), and only crow, jackdaw, jay, magpie and rook may be used as decoy birds. Any dead birds must be removed.

Is sporting shooting a valid reason under the general licence for killing birds?

No sport alone is not classed as a valid reason. The licence is issued for a specific purpose such as crop protection, livestock protection and human health and safety. You must be shooting for one of the reasons covered by the licence. You do not need to prove which crops you are protecting.

What about roost shooting and decoying?

The use of decoys and roost shooting is a legitimate method of control and has always been recognised as such. You do not have to catch the bird or animal in the act to be able to shoot them, it is accepted that the birds or animals have the capacity to cause damage and therefore need to be controlled.

What if I'm challenged by someone?

You should tell them that you are carrying out crop protection or pest control as permitted by the General Licence for control. Pointing out that other methods have been tried and found to be ineffective hence the reason you are shooting the species.

Control of rabbits: Information

Natural England has recently reviewed its policy on dealing with rabbit complaints. NE and DEFRA's  latest position statements are shown below. The obligations and responsibility under the 1954 control of Rabbits has been amended recently to bring the responsibilities of land owners / occupiers up to date. (right click the links and click "save target" to download the information to your computer)


Want to know more about the law regarding shooting? Try the links below.

(General Licence)