Welsh farmers voice displeasure over decision to replace licences


Welsh farmers have slammed a decision to ban the shooting of birds that they claim cause damage to crops and predate livestock.

Three new general licences for the control of birds in Wales, announced by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), will come into force on Monday 7 October. The new licences no longer allow Carrion Crow, Eurasian Magpie, Rook, Jay, Collared Dove or Woodpigeon to be controlled to protect public health – feral Rock Dove is the only species left on the list.

The new licences are Natural Resources Wales' (NRW) reaction to legal advice that its old general licences were "not lawful", following a legal challenge by Chris Packham and the Wild Justice group. However, unlike in England, no legal challenge has actually been made, nor has the legality of the old licences, which date back to the 1990s, ever been questioned in court.

The new licenses mean that Rook can no longer be shot in Wales (Jane Rowe).

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said the new licences further restrict the ability of farmers and conservationists to control birds that are damaging crops or livestock, spreading disease or causing harm to species of conservation concern. FUW land use committee chairman, Tudur Parry, accused NRW of "running scared" of Wild Justice.

He said: “In our view, the review has been hijacked by those wishing to introduce additional and unnecessary restrictions that are unrelated to the risk of a legal challenge.

"Rooks cause huge damage to crops all over Wales, and can decimate vast areas – for example, where seeds have been sown – and preventing such damage being caused by a very common species is ridiculous."

Responding to the new general licences in Wales, David Pooler, North Wales chairman of the National Gamekeepers' Organisation, said: "This will be a disaster for rural Wales, making the jobs of gamekeepers, farmers and pest controllers more difficult at the very time when rapidly declining wildlife in the Welsh countryside needs all the help it can get.

"Natural Resources Wales has run scared of a non-existent legal threat, rushing through a set of ill-considered and over-precautionary licences that will stop people doing what they need to do and harm the very biodiversity that NRW is supposed to look after."

The new general licences will not apply in, or within, 300 m of 203 Welsh Sites of Special Scientific Interest.