Sunday, 13 February 2011

Legal position on killing gulls, pigeons and crow.

This was posted as a comment on my Rivercottage Blog and I thought it was worth posting on here too. Thanks to Richard Collingridge a.k.a "Yernagates" for this from www.collingridge.net

"It's worth clarifying the legal position, both for "seagulls", and for "pigeons" and indeed "crows".
Under some circumstances it IS indeed legal to kill one of the gull species, and take the eggs of two, but the many others are protected all the time.
It is NOT legal to kill some species of pigeon, and for the three "pest" pigeon species it is only legal under very particular circumstances. The same applies to the other "pests", including the common crow species.
The two most important things are to know the law, and to be able to identify birds BEFORE you shoot them. Sadly many shooters I've met seem to be quite vague on both these points.
The main law (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/69) is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) Section 1 (1) (1): thou shalt not harm a wild bird, and WCA S 1 (2) (b): thou shalt not possess any part of such bird. This law covers ALL wild birds, including all gulls and all pigeons, crows etc.
However, you can kill or possess a bird if taken lawfully: WCA S 1 (3) (a).
The main relevant legislation that allows lawful killing is the "general licences" (http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/regulation/wildlife/licences/generallicences.aspx#a), especially the one which allows "authorised persons" to kill or take the eggs of certain birds "to prevent serious damage or disease" (http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/wml-gl04_tcm6-24149.pdf).
The current licences run for the whole of the calendar year of 2011, and they do sometimes change from year to year. They currently list just one gull (the lesser black-backed) and three pigeons (collared dove, feral pigeon and woodpigeon). Also the common crow species, but not raven. Herring gull eggs can also be taken or destroyed for human health protection (a different licence, the one for public health or safety).
You do not have to apply for the general licences: they automatically cover anyone authorised by the landowner, except those previously convicted of wildlife crime.
You can only kill birds under a general licence when other non-lethal methods have failed.
All this means that it is illegal to kill, for example, woodpigeon solely for food or sport: it must be for the protection of crops when other methods have failed. So, if a farm had a history of woodpigeons seriously damaging rape crops, and gas guns no longer dissuaded them, it would then be legal to shoot them. However, on a grass farm with no pigeon damage, or where non-lethal methods had not been tried, it would NOT be legal.
Similarly with lesser black-backed gulls, crows, rooks etc: you have to be able to show that they were causing serious damage or disease, and that other methods had failed.
And then... When you are shooting your woodpigeon, are you certain it is not the very similar stock dove, which is fully protected under all circumstances? Most people don't know the difference, and many don't even know of the existence of stock doves. When shooting your feral pigeon, are you certain it's not a wild rock dove (the same species), or, again, a stock dove? Collared dove from turtle dove? Lesser black-backed gull from greater black-back, herring gull, or even yellow-legged gull (which has an intermediately grey back). Can you recognise a raven, which is fully protected, and is now again widespread in lowland Britain? (I can't always immediately tell a raven from a crow even with binoculars.)
If you are not utterly confident about these identifications, to be honest you should stick to pheasants and rabbits while you practise with binoculars and a bird book.
If you go birdwatching to see stock doves, you will find that they are always extremely shy. I strongly suspect this is because they are used to being shot at in mistake for woodpigeons. Likewise wild rock doves, and indeed ravens.
Incidentally, I have had LBB gull eggs (many years ago, when the law was different). They were lovely, with no hint of a taste of rubbish tip.(We were marooned on an island at the time, with nothing else to eat apart from limpets and seaweed.)
Richard"

1 comment:

WILLIE........! said...

Totally agree with the write up on gulls, crows etc....!
I just want to point out, that l have gone through a season of some 40 brace of pheasants, some 20 odd partridge...rabbits, hares, and deer.
As it states in my Blog, under food,
that l eat a lot of game, even down to rook, jays and squirrel.
BUT...I DO NOT KILL A THING....
If l drive down the road, and there's a pheasant or rabbit, l stop, drive round it, toot and drive on.
But, bring it to me 'On The Hoof' so to speak, out comes the 8 inch blade, and away we go.....!
Don't think anyone will be doing anything about the above laws...
When the laws for domestic animals are still so abused....!
williewine.blogspot.com/