To kill or take certain birds to preserve public
health or public safety
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
Valid for the period
1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014 (inclusive)
England (landward of the mean low water mark)
Who may use
Authorised persons only (see Definitions & Condition 12)
Users do not need to register to use this licence
Recording & reporting
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Overview of licence
This licence permits landowners, occupiers and other authorised persons to carry out a range of
otherwise prohibited activities against the species of wild birds listed on the licence. This licence may
only be relied upon where the activities are carried out for the purpose of preserving public health or
public safety, and users must comply with licence terms and conditions. These conditions include the
requirement that the user must be satisfied that legal (including non-lethal) methods of resolving the
problem are ineffective or impracticable.
THE PURPOSE(S) FOR WHICH THIS LICENCE APPLIES
1. Subject to paragraph 2 and the licence conditions, this licence is granted to preserve public health or
WHAT THE LICENCE PERMITS
2. For the purposes set out in paragraph 1 above, and subject to the terms and conditions, below, this
(i) Authorised persons to kill or take any of the wild birds listed at (a) and (b) below, to take, damage
or destroy their nests or to take or destroy their eggs:
Gull, Lesser Black-backed
(b) Goose, Canada
(ii) Authorised persons to take, damage or destroy the nests or to take or destroy their eggs of the
species listed below:
(iii) Authorised persons acting under subparagraph (2)(i) above:
(a) to use a semi-automatic weapon;
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(b) to use a cage trap, the dimensions of which do not satisfy the requirements of section 8(1) of
(c) to use any hand held or hand propelled net to take birds whilst not in flight; and
(d) in relation to the killing or taking of Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
i. to use any device for illuminating a target or any sighting device for night shooting;
ii. to use any form of artificial lighting or any mirror or other dazzling device.
3. In respect to the species listed at paragraph 2(i)(a) and 2(ii) above, this licence can only be relied on
in circumstances where the authorised person is satisfied that appropriate legal methods of
resolving the problem such as scaring and proofing are either ineffective or impracticable (see note
4. Except as specifically permitted under subparagraph 2(iii) above, this licence does not authorise the
use of any method of killing or taking which is prohibited by section 5 or section 8 of the Act.
5. Any birds killed in accordance with this licence must be killed in a quick and humane manner.
Canada Geese held captive prior to being killed must be killed out of sight of other captive birds of
the same species (see note k(ii)).
6. Where any cage trap, including a trap authorised under subparagraph 2(iii) above is used, then only
the bird species listed in this paragraph may be used as decoys:
7. All relevant animal welfare legislation must be complied with at all times, including the Animal
Welfare Act 2006. This includes providing decoy birds with adequate food, water at all times,
appropriate shelter and a suitable perch that does not cause discomfort to the birds‟ feet (see note
8. Where any live animal, other than a bird included in the list at subparagraph 2(i) above, or an animal
of a species listed on Schedule 9 of the Act, has become confined in a cage trap, if fit to be
released, it must be released immediately upon discovery at the point of capture (or as close as it is
safe to do so). See note n
regarding any animals that are listed on Schedule 9.
9. When in use, every cage trap used in accordance with this licence must be physically inspected at
least once every day at intervals of no more than 24 hours except where this is not possible
because of severe weather conditions. In such cases, every effort must be made to inspect the cage
trap as soon as possible. Such an inspection must be sufficient to determine whether there are any
live or dead birds or other animals in the trap (see note t).
10. At each inspection any dead animal, including any dead bird, caught in the trap must be removed
from it (see note k(ii)).
11. Where a cage trap is not in use, it must be rendered incapable of holding or catching birds or other
animals. Any bait, food, water or decoy birds must also be removed (see note u).
12. No person convicted on or after 1 January 2010 of an offence to which this paragraph applies may
use this licence unless, in respect of that offence they are either (1) a rehabilitated person for the
purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and their conviction is treated as spent; or (2)
in respect of such an offence, a court has made an order discharging them absolutely. This
paragraph applies to offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation
(Natural Habitats &c.) Regulations 1994, the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
2010, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, the Deer Act 1991, the Hunting Act 2004, the Wild
Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Protection of Animals Act
1911 (all as amended) (see note i).
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Definitions used in this licence
13. “authorised person
” - At the time of issue of this licence, “authorised person” is defined in section
27(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as:
the owner or occupier, or any person authorised by the owner or occupier, of the land on
which the action authorised is taken;
any person authorised in writing by the local authority for the area within which the action
authorised is taken; and
as respects anything done in relation to wild birds, any person authorised in writing by any of
the following bodies, that is to say, any of the GB conservation bodies [this includes Natural
, a district board for a fishery district within the meaning of the Salmon Fisheries
(Scotland) Act 1862 or a local fisheries committee constituted under the Sea Fisheries
Regulation Act 1966;
any person authorised in writing by the [Environment Agency], a water undertaker or a
so, however, that the authorisation of any person for the purposes of this definition shall not
confer any right of entry upon any land.
14. “to kill
” includes accidentally to wound whilst attempting to kill in accordance with this licence.
" means taking all reasonable precautions to ensure that any killing of birds under this
licence is carried out by a single, swift action.
16. “semi-automatic weapon
” means any weapon which is not prohibited by section 5 of the Firearms
Act 1968 as amended and which has a magazine capable of holding more than two rounds of
ammunition, where the depression of the trigger discharges a single shot and reloads the next, each
subsequent shot requiring a further depression of the trigger.
17. “wild bird
” has the same meaning as in section 27 of the Act. At the time of issue of this licence,
“wild bird” is defined as “any bird of a species which is ordinarily resident in or is a visitor to the
European territory of any member State in a wild state but does not include poultry, or except in
sections 5 and 16, any game bird
Failure to act within the purpose of this licence as set out in paragraph 1 or failure to comply with the
terms and conditions may mean that the licence cannot be relied upon and an offence could therefore be
committed. The maximum penalty available for an offence under the Act is, at the time of the issue of
this licence, a level 5 fine (£5000) and/or a six month custodial sentence.
Issued for and on behalf of Natural England on
31st December 2013
a) Natural England has issued this licence in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 16 (1)(i) and
section 16(5) of the Act, being satisfied that as regards the purpose set out at paragraph 1 there is
no other satisfactory solution. Visit the Office of Public Sector Information website to view the full
text of this legislation (www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/about_legislation).
b) Under section 1 of the Act it is an offence for any person to kill, injure or take any wild bird; to take,
damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while the nest is in use or being built; or to take or
destroy an egg of any wild bird.
c) Section 5 of the Act prohibits the use of certain methods of killing and taking wild birds including, but
not exclusively, the use of any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance, any bow or crossbow,
any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm, or any chemical wetting agent.
d) Under section 8 of the Act, it is an offence for any person to keep or confine any bird whatever in
any cage or other receptacle which is not sufficient in height, length or breadth to permit the bird to
stretch its wings freely.
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e) Section 16(1) of the Act provides that sections 1, 5 and 8 shall not apply to anything done under and
in accordance with the terms of a licence granted by the appropriate authority, which is, in England,
The limits of this licence
This licence permits action only for the purposes specified in paragraph 1. You may not use it to
prevent nuisance (such as excessive noise).
g) This licence does not confer any right of entry upon land.
h) Birds killed or taken under this licence may be eaten, but, with the exception of the woodpigeon
), may not be sold for human consumption.
Any person not permitted to use this General Licence on account of a relevant conviction (see
Condition 12) may still apply to Natural England for a specific licence for the purpose(s) and
activities covered by this licence. Any such application will be considered on its merits.
Please note that except as provided under section 16(7) of the Act, this licence does not permit
actions prohibited under any other legislation. For example,
where the action involves the use of firearms, it is the authorised person‟s
responsibility to ensure that he complies with all relevant legislation,
anyone acting under this licence is not exempt from the provisions of section
28E of the Act, as amended. This means that owners and occupiers of sites designated as
Sites of Special Scientific Interest are obliged to seek the consent of Natural England if t hey
propose to carry out, cause or permit to be carried out, an activity on the site that is listed on
the protected site notification as an "operation likely to damage”,
Statutory undertakers (as defined under Section 28G of the Act) are reminded that they are
obliged under Section 28H of the Act to give notice to Natural England before carrying out
operations likely to damage any of the special interest features of a Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI) and this obligation applies even where the operations are carried out on land
not included in the SSSI. To identify SSSIs and the features for which they are designated,
refer to www.magic.gov.uk.
Consult the site notification for details of „operations likely to
damage‟, and consider whether your activity is likely to have an impact. Advice may be
sought from Natural England‟s regional teams (www.naturalengland.org.uk/contact/
Telephone 0845 600 3078).
k) Persons acting under this licence should have regard to:
the Environmental Protection (Restriction on Use of Lead Shot) (England) Regulations 1999
(SI 1999/2170). Regulation 3 prohibits the use of lead shot for the purpose of shooting quarry
species of wildfowl with a shot gun anywhere in the country and all use of lead shot for
shotgun shooting on most wetlands important for waterbirds, and
good practice and any legislation affecting the disposal of the carcase(s) of any bird killed in
accordance with this licence.
l) The provisions of this licence only apply landward of the mean low water mark in England. The
Marine Management Organisation is responsible for all licensing seaward of the mean low water
m) This licence may be modified or revoked at any time.
n) Under section 14 of the Act it is an offence to release into the wild any animal included in Part 1 of
Schedule 9 to the Act. Any animals of species listed on Schedule 9 caught under this licence should
be treated as follows:
Animals of the following species, which are considered native to Great Britain, must be
released immediately upon discovery. This is permitted under General Licence WML- GL22.
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(also known as Haliaeetus albicilla
Animals of other species listed on Schedule 9 (this includes the Canada goose, Branta
and the Monk parakeet, Myiopsitta monachus
) must not be released or allowed to
escape into the wild. It is preferable that these animals are killed in a quick and humane
manner as soon as reasonably practicable after discovery. These animals may only be
released under an individual licence obtained from Natural England.
o) Condition 3 of this licence – which requires users to satisfy themselves that other appropriate legal
methods of resolving the problem are either ineffective or impracticable - only applies to bird species
that Natural England considers to be native to Great Britain (these are listed at paragraph 2(i)(a) and
2(ii)); it does not apply to non-native species (listed at paragraphs 2(i)(b)). People may use non-
lethal methods, such as scaring and proofing, for non-natives and are encouraged to do so where
this is the best solution to a problem, but these methods do not need to be shown to be ineffective
or impracticable before this licence can be relied upon.
General welfare considerations
p) Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal
(including birds) under the control of man (section 4 of the 2006 Act). This applies to the humane
despatch of captured animals and to the treatment of animals held in traps or nets.
q) It is the responsibility of each person relying on this licence to use appropriate equipment (e.g. trap,
net, firearm and ammunition) and to ensure that they are competent to use such equipment so as to
avoid causing unnecessary suffering.
Severe Weather and Waterfowl Shooting
: During periods of prolonged severe cold weather users of
this licence are asked to show, where appropriate, voluntary restraint
in activities (such as
shooting and scaring) that could disturb waterfowl (ducks, geese, and waders). The Natural
England, Defra, JNCC, and BASC websites will indicate when periods of „voluntary restraint‟ or
statutory suspension apply. A statutory suspension temporarily prohibits the shooting of any bird on
Schedule 2 Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (which includes Canada geese). Please
note that this licence may still be used to take or kill Canada geese during periods subject to
a statutory suspension of shooting, although users are asked to show voluntary restraint
. For more information visit the JNCC website: www.jncc.gov.uk/page-2894
Use of traps
s) Where cage traps used under the terms of this licence consistently capture birds not included in the
list at subparagraph 2(i), the trap should be moved, as a matter of good practice, to a different
location in order to minimise the risk of such birds being caught again.
The authorised person should have regard to the inspection requirements contained in paragraph 9
when considering the use of a cage trap under this licence. As a matter of good practice, cage traps
should not be used during severe weather conditions, or when such conditions are reasonably
u) In order to render any cage trap incapable of holding or catching birds or other animals, it is
necessary to either secure the door in a fully open or closed position or to remove the door
v) Treatment of decoy birds:
In addition to the general welfare provisions stipulated above, where a decoy bird is used,
under Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the person setting and operating a trap is also
responsible for the welfare of the decoy bird, ensuring that it has sufficient food, water and
shelter, and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
: means sufficient, palatable food, which is of a type suitable for the decoy
species, to meet the needs of the bird(s). Food provision will not be considered „adequate‟ if
the decoy bird(s) cannot readily access it, or if other birds or mammals could deprive the bird
of its food.
Water at all times
: water must always be available to decoy birds and drinkable; it should be
free from chemical additives and changed regularly to ensure that it is clean. The water needs
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to be kept ice-free during day-light hours. If this is not possible, then the conditions are not
suitable for using a decoy bird in a trap.
decoy birds are to be provided with shelter that provides effective
protection from rain and direct sunlight under the prevailing and anticipated weather
conditions. Such provision will be influenced by the location of the trap and its exposure to the
elements. The perch should be sheltered. As a matter of good practice, cage traps should not
be used during severe weather conditions, or when such conditions are reasonably
Contact details for Natural England
Other useful contacts
For licensing enquiries:
Feedback and Complaints:
we welcome and value your
0845 601 4523
compliments, complaints, suggestions and comments about our
0845 601 3438
services. Please see our „Contact us‟ section for more details.
Local Record Centres
: to find out where your nearest Local Record
Centre is visit the Association of Local Environmental Record Centres
Customer Services, Wildlife Licensing, Natural
website at: www.alerc.org.uk/find-an-lrc.html
England, First Floor, Temple Quay House, 2 The
Square, Bristol, BS1 6EB
visit the Office of Public Sector Information website to
view the full text of the legislation referred to in this licence:
For other enquiries use the Enquiry Service:
0845 600 3078
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