Leading Scottish animal campaigns charity OneKind is calling for a full review of the General Licence system for the killing and taking of certain species of wild birds in Scotland.
It follows a legal challenge by the organisation Wild Justice which resulted in Natural England revoking three General Licences for the killing of 16 wild bird species in England, because the licences were deemed not to be legal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell has now raised specific Scottish issues in a series of parliamentary questions to the Scottish Government.
In Scotland, the General Licence system is very similar to the licences previously issued in England permitting the live trapping and killing of magpies, crows and other corvids and the shooting of certain species of gulls, geese, pigeon and doves.
OneKind Director Bob Elliot said:
“Shooting and trapping of so called ‘pest species’ of birds is generally widespread in Scotland. OneKind has long raised concerns of the General Licence system which allows sentient birds to be shot but also captured in inhumane cage traps before having their necks broken or being killed with a blow to the head. Not only does this raise serious animal welfare concerns, but the General Licence system seems to be used as a cover for people to freely kill animals whenever they see fit.”
Following the withdrawal of the General Licences in England last month, OneKind wrote to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) who confirmed that they will review the licences in consultation with others.
Bob Elliot continued:
“Since the General Licences in England have been described as unfit for purpose, we urgently call on Scottish Government via Scottish Natural Heritage to review the current General Licence system Scotland, but let me be clear, the killing of sentient wild birds should only ever be the very last resort after all non-lethal interventions have been exhausted and well documented. It is the responsibility of the competent authority – in this case, Scottish Natural Heritage, to satisfy itself that this legal test has been met. We must end the current free-for-all against so-called ‘pest’ species.”
Notes to editor:
- OneKind is Scotland’s leading animal campaigns charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals. OneKind works to expose cruelty and persecution through investigations and research covering Scotland’s wildlife, farm animals and pets. Find out more about our work at onekind.scot
- Mark Ruskell’s parliamentary questions can be seen here.
- Image credit – Laurie Campbell