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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

The facts about licences for wild birds

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Biodiversity, Wildlife

Blog from Natural England Director of Operations James Diamond

There has recently been a great deal of speculation on social media about the licensed killing of wild birds in England. I’d like to take this opportunity to give some context to Natural England’s licensing work so that people can understand our decisions.

All wild birds in England are fully protected in law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).  Whilst the Act offers all species general protection, it also provides exemptions for licences to be issued by Natural England on behalf of the government.

These purposes include preserving air safety and public health, and preventing damage to livestock. These licences, which have been issued for nearly 40 years, can only be granted once all other avenues have been explored.

In determining any licence application our expert staff take account of the requirements of the legislation and the five policy tests set out by Defra. A successful applicant must clearly demonstrate – with supporting evidence – that:

  • actual damage or a problem is occurring;
  • the species is actually causing the damage or problem;
  • other reasonable and practical non-lethal alternatives have been considered and tried (such as scaring, trapping or proofing);
  • the action is proportionate;
  • and the conservation status of the species will not be negatively affected.

Amongst the licences we have issued are permissions to despatch individual birds, such as robins and house sparrows, which have found their way into food preparation premises.

We have also authorised: the removal of individual birds (or their nests) where they are a risk to transport or power supply infrastructure; the shooting of cormorants alongside scaring to protect inland fisheries; and the removal of birds, such as buzzards, that are presenting a risk to aircraft safety at an airport.

None of these actions presents any risk to the conservation status of the species involved. Further information about the reasons for issuing a licence for the control of birds can be found on

Although the focus of the recent interest blog has been licences for the lethal control of birds, it’s worth pointing out that Natural England’s licensing work also enables important conservation work to take place. This includes the tracking and ringing of birds, research into their behaviour and the reintroduction of species such as corncrakes in Cambridgeshire and cirl buntings in Cornwall.

In the interests of transparency we have published a summary of the licences for the control of birds issued between 2013 and 2018, with the reason for approval stated:


Bird Species Licensing Purpose
Brent goose Preventing serious damage to agriculture
Greylag goose Preserving public safety and/or preventing serious damage to agriculture
Black-headed gull Conserving fauna (including wild birds) or preserving public health or safety
Herring gull Conserving fauna (including wild birds) or preserving public health or safety
Great black-backed gull Conserving fauna (including wild birds) or preserving public health or safety
Lesser black-backed gull Conserving fauna (including wild birds) and/or preserving public health or safety
Curlew Preserving air safety
Oystercatcher Preserving air safety
Buzzard Preserving air safety and/or preventing serious damage to agriculture
Raven Preventing serious damage to agriculture
Kestrel Preserving air safety
Peregrine falcon Preserving air safety
Robin Preserving public health or safety
Grey heron Preserving air safety and/or preventing damage to fisheries or inland waters
Red kite Preserving air safety
Stock dove Preserving air safety
House sparrow Preserving air safety and/or preserving public health or safety
Wren Preserving public health or safety
Blackbird Preserving public health or safety
Great tit Preserving public health or safety
Starling Kill, injure or take for the purpose of preventing serious damage to agriculture
Golden plover Preserving air safety
Cormorant Preventing damage to fisheries or inland waters
Goosander Preventing damage to fisheries or inland waters
Egyptian goose Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety
Moorhen Preventing serious damage to agriculture
Mallard Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety
Pink-footed goose Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety
Canada goose Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety


Wigeon Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety


Mute swan Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety


Ruddy duck Conserving fauna (including wild birds)
Bullfinch Preventing serious damage to agriculture
Ringed plover Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety
Fantail/white dove Preserving public health and safety and/or preserving air safety
Barnacle goose Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety
Coot Preserving public health or safety
Skylark Preserving air safety



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  1. Comment by Howard Rowley posted on

    Meaningless without the numbers of birds slaughtered each time. Presumably every bird that flies within 5 miles of an airport will be culled under 'Preserving Air Safety'.

    • Replies to Howard Rowley>

      Comment by brian fisher posted on

      I agree - all this expensive bureaucracy is not protecting birds but is a sham to justify an expensive organisation which is not protecting wildlife. When these licenses are issued who polices the actual execution to enure that the correct number are murdered?

    • Replies to Howard Rowley>

      Comment by Anita Fleming posted on

      Absolute nonsense I do not agree with this senseless killing, a lot of these birds are on the decline already, a vote should be given to the people of this country to decide if this should be allowed but I think we already know the answer.

  2. Comment by Biddy Broiler posted on

    Some animals are clearly more equal than others Clucks - but why wasn't this put in the public domain from the start?

    A number of these 'explanations' (e.g. food contamination) raise questions about the adequacy of the operational arrangements of the stakeholders. Why wouldn't they be expected to bear the cost of a non-fatal solution (i.e. removing sparrows, wrens etc from buildings)?

    • Replies to Biddy Broiler>

      Comment by Pamela Aitken posted on

      Our local airport has used bird scarers and as far as I know they have been effective. I feel if we could stop interfering with the natural balance , less chemicals, no culling, plant more trees ,hedges clover and wild flowers the countryside would respond and foxes and badger would reduce the number of rats in the ditches . Wrens!!!??time for an alternative name for Natural England! Many of the other comments have already expressed my concern at this killing and therefore I’ll only add that skylarks are so few now you should be ashamed!

  3. Comment by Lesley Karen Roden posted on

    There is not enough information here. For example, how were bullfinches impacting on agriculture? It seems our precious wildlife is too easily 'removed'.

  4. Comment by mARK cHAMPION posted on

    I am interested in how a buzzard can have a serious negative affect agriculture, could you, in the interest of transparency, explain the damage that buzzards were having on agriculture, please.
    Thanking you in advance.....

    • Replies to mARK cHAMPION>

      Comment by Daniel Purcell posted on

      How do they get rid of them? Do they capture them and move them elsewhere or just shoot them down? They wouldn't shoot drones down at an airport.

    • Replies to mARK cHAMPION>

      Comment by Mike H posted on

      My own thoughts exactly. Buzzards feed on carrion. How does that damage agriculture. There are some unscrupulous farmers out there.Whilst walking in North Wales, I came across a farmer putting out poisoned rabbit carcases to kill buzzards and red kites. He had been doing it for years. I reported it to DEFRA and he was given a warning.

  5. Comment by john harrison posted on

  6. Comment by Neil Armstrong posted on

    Somethings I can understand but so many are just catch all reasons for example moorhens can not be seen to cause serious damage to agriculture?? Now Canada geese eat much grass from fields better to have foxes to catch or drive them away but I doubt they & so many other birds fly in such a way to cause air safety problems??

  7. Comment by stephen Crofts posted on

    An absolute joke. Ive heard Wrens can be lethal at this time of year.!

  8. Comment by Patricia Murgatroyd posted on

    It's all about the human race isn't it?! The poor birds are are victlms of our devastation of the countryside because of our greed for meat,fish,hunting and shooting. Their habitats have been destroyed by agriculture and you are adding to this by condoning their slaughter. May you hang your heads in shame.

    • Replies to Patricia Murgatroyd>

      Comment by Annie Honjo posted on

      Patricia you took the words right out of my mouth - it's all about humans: nothing here shows any understanding of the birds' place in the ecology, rather they are seen as an 'inconvenience' impinging on the world that WE have made - a world that has no room for the original inhabitants. Sometimes I am ashamed to be human.

    • Replies to Patricia Murgatroyd>

      Comment by Gillian Lee posted on

      Your comments Patricia echo my thoughts exactly, in addition farming is the worst destroyer of our wildlife by the uneducated use of herbicides and pesticides including the continuing use of Glyphosate in 'Roundup'. Why hav'nt Natural England managed to ban this use in this country as they have in America. Scientists have stated that insects are now going through a massive decline which is the main food source for our birds and our sea birds are having to find food elsewhere e.g.agri.crops as we are raiding the seas from over fishing.

  9. Comment by Elizabeth Owens posted on

    What a load of nonsense !

  10. Comment by Adam Nicolson posted on

    You must know how inadequate this is as a response. The descriptions you give describe nothing. Far more detail is required to understand what the agency has done and on what basis.

  11. Comment by Robert Helson posted on

    I don't agree.

  12. Comment by Alan Price posted on

    Do you have recorded evidence that illustrates the damage these birds have caused ie Aircraft collisions, actual crop destruction, orchard decimation etc. Clearly photographic as well as documented statistics would be a fundamental requirement from the group's and individuals seeking licences to kill.

  13. Comment by Linda Johns posted on

    Please can you elucidate this information by supplying records of numbers actually killed? Thank you.

  14. Comment by Lesley Blissett posted on

    This is insane, I cannot believe that Robins and Wrens are a risk in any way whatsoever!!! ALL Swans belong to the Queen, I gather she has approved of this mass slaughter. ABSOLUTE INSANITY!!!

  15. Comment by W Rogers posted on

    I saw a report on Facebook about a large amount of shooting Woodcocks, to the point that their numbers are down

  16. Comment by Steve Pettit posted on

    So the rumour about the shooting of red listed song birds is untrue than?

  17. Comment by Danial Hatherley-Hurford posted on

    Wow? how terribley vague and open to miss use.

  18. Comment by Phillip lovell posted on

    Sorry some of those are a joke
    Red listed species
    Money and who you know blatant in these licences

  19. Comment by Phil Clews posted on

    Causing serious damage to agriculture that stands for eating something that game birds eat so the shooting won’t be affected, so they will still be able to charge top dollar to shoot them

  20. Comment by Gerry Tamplin posted on

    The information in the release was helpful, the list was useful. However, my thinking is that, it does lack a certain detail. Without the case notes and the reason for granting the licence, it does not allow others to gain an understanding. My view is that to hide information always leads to suspicion – Why is the information not available, what is being hidden? Obviously, names and locations should not be revealed but I would question why other information was not in the public domain.
    Some of the ‘catch-all’ reasons are intriguing. Sparrows – endangering flights? Ravens – and agricultural impacts.
    My guess might be that most people would have no argument with the majority of decisions. It is worth considering that to always take decisions in a silo without recourse to scrutiny has always proved over the ages to be bad practise. External consultation, review and visibility is usually in the long run a better policy and leads to better outcomes.

  21. Comment by W Stevens posted on

    Skylarks causing threat to air safety ! The above list just further demonstrates the crass ignorance of Natural England rationale. It is all about protecting big business profits. Disgusting and not fit for purpose organisation.

  22. Comment by Dave Lomas posted on

    I would dearly love to know in what circumstances a mainly carrion & small animal eating Raven can be the threat of serious damage to agriculture. Please advise.

  23. Comment by Emma Telford posted on

    This is crazy! How can a curlew or oyster catcher present a danger to air quality? Curlew are red listed and live high on moor or farmland, what are you hiding?

  24. Comment by Donna-Marie Skoyles posted on

    Disgusting allowing these beautiful birds to be shot! We are the ones that destroy everything. There is no excuse, it is just a licence to provide more money. People want to see more birds not less and they are under enough pressure as it is.

    • Replies to Donna-Marie Skoyles>

      Comment by Julie Gill posted on

      It's atrocious the government are already taken away all the green spaces to build new houses on what have they got left? this country is so out of order it's disgusting we should be preserving our birds not slaughtering them

  25. Comment by Sarah Zaluckyj posted on

    Killing skylarks to 'preserve air safety'? Is this some sort of joke? And killing blue tits, robins, blackbirds and wrens to preserve public health? This list goes on...I see red kites are killed for preserving air safety. I am sure Britain's farmers are delighted with that! In fact in all of this I see the moneyed grip of farmers and building developers. When the loose reason or preserving air safety/public health safety/preventing harm to farms and fisheries and inland waters is given as a reason for killing these species - do you actually inspect the place? As more of your jobs are axed, doesn't it occur that just anybody can use this as an excuse to blast more wildlife out of the sky and off the land? Unless you have the staff to follow-up on requests with site visits, then it's time this to stop this 'licensed killing'. There must be more loopholes in this legislation than a tea-bag.

    • Replies to Sarah Zaluckyj>

      Comment by pam Aitken posted on

      My thoughts exactly!

  26. Comment by Andrew Dimoglou posted on

    TOTALLY UNSATISFACTORY!...I won't say answer as it didn't, but was an nebulous reply...numbers and specific explanations withheld...yes,withheld because these licences are not justifiable.Birds near food sources etc. can be moved or prevented access I'm sure.It would seem the premises are at fault, for not securing the property from "invasion".Furthermore what constitutes "serious damage to agriculture"?...Finally,how do solitary birds of prey constitute an air safety threat?Are not planes tough enough to withstand a collision with such birds?..If not they should not be flying.How many injuries or deaths have been caused by red kites please.I will be emailing these questions until I get satisfactory answers.

  27. Comment by Elizabeth Weston posted on

    Total nonsense. You cannot expect this weak response to satisfy those who are passionate about our nation’s wildlife.

  28. Comment by Peter Bailey posted on

    Surely this is a case of using a hammer to crack a nut! At a time when our wildlife is already experiencing disastrous decline in numbers and diversity! I would happily sign a gov petition against this unwarranted 'culling'.

  29. Comment by Lara999 posted on

    This information just sickens me further. Natural England need to take a step back and reflect on their behaviour.

  30. Comment by Davena Hooson posted on
    I am utterly appalled to think that a body such as yours can allow this sort of killing to happen. You should re-think this disgusting decision, based solely on greed. HOW can you “maintain and enhance biodiversity and build ecosystem resilience” by killing endangered species? You are ruining the chances of not only the conservation but the chance to grow in number of a number of small birds. I will no longer contribute to anything your body needs fund for. To think that you have sunk to this.

  31. Comment by Cj.williams posted on

    All these birds should be allowed to live life we do.
    Stop killing the nature.

  32. Comment by Tony Ridge posted on

    I cannot believe this is necessary and the list of birds on the death list is horrendous. How is this monitored to make sure this is not just shooting for fun and how do people distinguish what they are allowed to shot. It is difficult enough to know what they are when you have a camera lense. How does a Robin harm anything for example. It gives so much pleasure and even seems to be the face of Christmas.....

    I would like to see more science behind this and research on what effect they are really having. Do the positives outweigh any negatives on keeping these beautiful creatures alive if you look at the bigger picture. What are the alternatives. Are we engaging with farmers for example and discussing their concerns and providing real facts, education and help.

    • Replies to Tony Ridge>

      Comment by Heather Duncan posted on

      James Diamond - Many thanks for the comments on this blog piece. I fully understand that issues of this nature will provoke a range of reactions and responses from people. I will try to respond to a couple of the specific questions posted.

      People have asked for more information on specific species and instances. This blog post from July 2018 describes raven licensing to protect livestock and this news story from September 2016 (updated November 2016) describes our approach to buzzard licensing

      We are looking at how we can publish more updates to describe how licencing works for individual species and situations.

      Several of the comments refer to publishing numbers of licences issued. In the raven blog I said that until recently we routinely published licensing statistics online. This was removed from GOV.UK due to very low numbers of page views. We are looking at the feasibility of bringing that information back online, starting with 2018, as soon as we can.

      Thanks as always for your keen interest in wildlife and nature conservation.
      James Diamond
      Natural England Operations Director

      • Replies to Heather Duncan>

        Comment by Paul posted on

        Thank you for taking the time to respond Heather, this is obviously a very emotive issue and it's important to people to know their comments are being considered and any answers are obviously appreciated.

        I'm particularly fascinated to know how a Robin could pose a threat to human safety. Please elaborate if you can.


      • Replies to Heather Duncan>

        Comment by brian fisher posted on

        These licences seem to be issued in secret. The general public should have the right to know and object before the birds are killed. How can you justify being paid to help murder Robins in secret?

  33. Comment by John Wrigglesworth posted on

    I refer to one of the above comments asking how a bullfinch can possibly have a negative effect on agriculture? Surely if Natural England were doing their job properly they would be researching how modern agriculture is having a negative effect on bullfinches, alongside most of the other countryside birds who's populations are spiraling downwards, because of poor environmental management.

  34. Comment by Sam posted on

    Birds move on let them move absolutely no need to kill any can’t believe skylark is on the list isn’t it becoming endangered because of intensive farming and as for wrens well it sounds like a comedy scetch shame on you ?

  35. Comment by Alison Hunt posted on

    As a tax payer paying for this insane slaughter I request a full and proper reply from Natural England justifying this unsustainable licence to kill endangered birds. If a flock of sparrows get into a food facility then the door has been left open or the building is deficient- the sparrows are not to blame and should not be killed.
    What evidence is there that all available bird scaring devices have actually been used and failed near airports before raptor and raven killing licences are granted by NE?
    Natural England's presumption of guilt on the part of birds is astounding.
    Is the human race increasingly going to be restricted to a sterile surgical environment devoid of bird song and beauty?

    • Replies to Alison Hunt>

      Comment by Heather Duncan posted on

      Hi Alison thanks for taking time to respond to our blog. I will forward your request to the FOI team to answer your question. If you want to find out more about how Freedom of Information requests work please read this page

    • Replies to Alison Hunt>

      Comment by Eileen Cox posted on

      I totally agree with everything you say Alison, and if tiny birds can enter food facilities then so can insects that will lay eggs & faeces.

  36. Comment by Mark Griffiths posted on

    This is so wrong. Humanity has reduced habitat so birds will find other options on where to build nest and look for food. What gives us the right on deciding what lives and what dies. The birds are doing what they have done for thousands of years which is to survive. We need to work with nature not against it.

  37. Comment by Isobel posted on

    I'm in Scotland but absolutely disgusted at this we have had hardly any small birds this year a few starlings sparrows and occasionally a Robin please leave all these beautiful birds alone surely if they are getting into premises causing hygiene problems the buildings should be made bird proof,human businesses taking the easy way out

  38. Comment by Linda Reekie posted on

    Is it true that Natural England is just another name changed from names you have worked or legislated under before?. There have been issues with how you have ' over or mis managed ' previously . Namely the destruction of habitats , mistakes, experiments gone wrong, refusing to change your minds ,in spite of good local advice . My guess is its all connected to money and loss of face

  39. Comment by Andrew Macve posted on

    We have some really scary robins here! Next time one is within reaching distance, instead of marvelling at it's beauty, I will rush indoors and apply for a licence to shoot it.
    I cannot see pheasants on the NE list. We have some in our garden with which we share some of our vegetables. A bit of a nuisance that they eat our produce, but we are willing to sacrifice some for the sake of having wildlife around. Are they omitted from the NE list as it would upset the pheasant shooting consortiums if others shot them?
    In my experience, if a wild animal is killed another will occupy the vacant space. What happens then?
    Having seen large areas in some Mediterranean countries where song birds are enticed, then shot, I thought the animal loving UK was above this. I am shocked and surprised that such slaughter is taking place, all subsidised by the taxpayer.

  40. Comment by Shaun Harvey posted on

    Can’t believe this nonsense who on earth are you taking your advice from,
    When you read this it’s hard for the public to take you seriously and they will lose there trust in you .
    I was told once the public are your best friend or your worst enemy so listen to them .
    Shaun Harvey

  41. Comment by Richard Ellison posted on

    What is going on? It's all very well for NE to explain the necessity of giving licenses to kill wild birds- that's part of their job. But there are serious questions about whether that job is well thought out. Take bullfinches for example - I presume they are killed for taking buds off fruit trees. Surely the burden of responsibility is with humans not the birds. Skylarks - what possible sensible reason can there be for culling them? NE emphasises there are few permissions given. This is not the point- it engenders the idea amongst those who are inclined to blame birds for damage etc that it is OK to kill them. And there will be a tendency to do so rather than go though bureaucratic hoops for formal permission.

  42. Comment by Eileen Cox posted on

    James Diamond, what a load of rubbish you write. What I would like to know is who benefits from the money paid for these ‘blood sport’ licences. Environmental health should pay a visit to the food preparation companies because if small birds can get into the area, it is for sure that flying insects can pop in to lay eggs & infect food products.
    Please don’t hope you can get away with this for much longer, we nature /bird lovers do not give up,ever.
    Does anyone realise that the RSPB are not interested in this, no more donations from me then.

  43. Comment by Hilton posted on

    The wildlife and countryside act 1981 is obviously meaningless if Natural
    England can issue licences on behalf of the Government. As usual it's all
    about vested interests and money.
    Reading your list of licences for the control of birds is like a macabre sick
    joke, anyone with any level of moral decency would see it for what it is.
    What you are saying is that birds have no rights to life except where you
    deem it to be appropriate.As a member of the RSPB I am sorry that they
    have so little power to prevent your powers in allowing these atrocities to
    be carried out.
    I never thought I would live to see the day when robins,wrens ,great tits,
    sparrows,could be held responsible for endangering public health and safety and skylarks could threaten our air safety.
    Lets hope James Diamond that in the future you will not be adding cirl
    bunting and corncrakes to your horrid list of birds allowed by Natural
    England to be slaughtered . I don't know how you can call yourselves
    Natural England when it does not match your practices,but then I suppose when you work for the politicians you have to sell your sole.

  44. Comment by Eileen Cox posted on

    Where is my comment I left yesterday please? You have not published it on this page.
    Under the Freedom of information act, I would like to know how much these sick individuals pay you for a licence. Could you please tell me why you don’t give a sensible reply to emails?

  45. Comment by David Martens posted on

    Absolute Codswallop !
    As taxpayers we should not be funding this slaughter of our wild birds.
    Bullfinches ? ...killed because they eat buds on fruit trees !! despicable ?
    Our countryside has become so hostile to birds that they have to feed anyway they can to survive including feeding on cattle feed and are shot for doing so ?
    (Un)Natural England ,you should be ashamed of yourselves, you're clearly only on the side of industrial farming and in the pockets of the NFU.

  46. Comment by Rex Mulberry posted on

    We are already in a total decline of even our common bird life surely what you propose is utter madness, a bird has a hard enough life just to survive. Surely bird scares are used near airports, and what was the point to reintroduce red kites,so these wonderful birds can be culled, because of air safety,please forward cases of these species that have made air safety impossible. Very disappointed with Natural England, nature finds its own levels some good years,some bad years, we had no issues in the sixties.

  47. Comment by Gillian Delaney posted on

    Totally unacceptable with the already horrendous decline in our wild birds are you completly mad? Guess that also accounts why landowners have denuded their hedges of every available food today 7/8th January.Why is this allowed? Guess you're funded by the taxpayer.Unbelievable!!

  48. Comment by stephen oades posted on

    robin, blackbird, wren 'protecting public health or safety' ....because they have massive claws and teeth ? absurd . The Organisation has no right to the title 'Natural England'

  49. Comment by Tracy Whiteman posted on

    Absolutely disgusting and obviously nothing to do with your chairman’s generous gifts to the Tory’s and their property developing chums. Can this country sink any lower?

  50. Comment by keith sutton posted on

    unbelievable, humans are a cancer on this planet, its such a shame that the same tactics are not used on criminals, how can you justify money against saving wildlife? if the developers dont want the wildlife, build somewhere else

  51. Comment by Elizabeth Harrop posted on

    I have only just heard about this and am almost lost for words. The reasons for killing are so vague this information is more or less useless . However, to pick one example “Great tit - preserving public health or safety “, can you explain the particular circumstances of this case in the interests of transparency.

  52. Comment by Prish Hackman posted on

    This is a complete farce. Again a typical example of the attempt of human control over wildlife ...for WHAT??? The human just seems SO averse in the understanding of WHY each and EVERY creature on this earth IS here. They ALL have their part in securing a healthy eco system and all the human wants to do is just RAVAGE and DESTROY RELENTLESSLY. This attitude is ultimately going to affect ALL of us. It's just so sickenly heart breaking. Furthermore, it doesn't seem to get better. What is it with the government that it just doesn't seem to do ANYTHING! And WHERE is the public's COMMON SENSE???

  53. Comment by 'Lucy' posted on

    In the instances of robins and house sparrows finding "their way into food preparation premises", could they not have been captured by the RSPCA using nets, or similarly have been encouraged to fly out of an opening?

  54. Comment by Caroline Mason posted on

    This is utter nonsense - an appalling attack on our environment. I wonder if the presence of any of these species would cause any housing developments to not proceed???? Sledge hammer to crack a nut - totally disgraceful.

  55. Comment by Jill posted on

    Please do something about the pigeons in towns and cities and leave little robins, sparrows, wrens etc alone. Some of us go looking for these birds daily to photograph, very hard to belive that all these beautiful birds will be shot. Human beings are not the most important thing on this planet. JILL

  56. Comment by HelenB. posted on

    Isn't it strange that there are no Pheasants/quail/partridge/grouse on the list, I would have thought these birds would cause more damage to agriculture than any other on the list? Or are these just for the sport of the wealthy landowners?

  57. Comment by Sheila Stubbs posted on

    Natural England!
    What a gross misnomer!
    It is just a government agency with the power & authority to legitimise the unwarranted slaughter of our precious, declining wildlife.
    How do they define "Serious Damage to Agriculture" millions of sheep die because of cruel neglect, thousands die when crammed into lorries on long journeys to british or foreign slaughterhouses.
    Why kill Ravens just because they take a few weak lambs?
    Are Golden Eagles to be shot too?

    Surely it is time to stop killing birds overflying airports, if technology can create the Space Station, surely it can manufacture bird proof planes.
    Mass tourism is damaging planet earth, I once overheard a woman in the bank bragging that she had been to New York for a weekend of Christmas Shopping!

    I have met several Nat Eng employees working in the derbyshire Dales & they have acted in the best interests of local wildlife.
    In common with many organisations, "The Rot is at the Top"

  58. Comment by Lilian Coulton posted on

    Good morning
    Would you please provide evidence of the number licences granted for each species, location and number of birds each licence is granted for during the period 2013 to 2018?

    The information you have provided about the species is not comprehensive enough to assess the impact on each species and whether specific locations have a higher rate of licences compared to other areas.

    Are licences granted with/without a quota of birds covered by the licence? Are multiple licences per applicant allowed?
    How are the licences monitored once granted to ensure they are not breached?
    What evidence so applicants need to submit and in what format eg reports, photos, video etc of the issue. Given that digital formats can easily be amended do you do site visits to ensure accuracy of the application?
    The reason I ask is that obviously it is much easier, less time consuming (and cheaper) for someone to apply for a licence and kill the birds (especially in agriculture and development ) than to go through the process of of non lethal alternatives.

    Are applicants able to get an exemption if they state the alternative isn't practical? What is classed as unpractical in this regard?

    When licences are granted what is the method of killing specified? I sincerely hope you are not allowing poisoning.

    When you say the action is proportionate would you please clarify this as it cannot be assessed as stated, proportionate to what?

    What are the current conservation figures for Bullfinches? How many are in the UK population and what percentage of the population are in the area where a licence/s was granted for agricultural purposes?

    How do you determine and what process do you go through to ascertain that the conservation status of the species will not be negatively affected?

  59. Comment by Angela Carroll posted on

    Thank you for replying to my Email. I must say that I find he reasons for killing these birds not proven, I cannot see what danger a tiny little wren or robin is to Public Health or safety, or even a house sparrow. I live in the countryside, where the hedges are being decimated , so the birds habitats are disappearing all the time. What with pesticides and herbicides it is surprising that we have any birds left at all. Sorry but you have not convinced me that shooting any of these birds is ok, I would like to know what the RSPB thinks about it, as well.

  60. Comment by Sue posted on

    Surely the 'individual' robins etc. who might make their way into 'food premises' could be trapped and moved somewhere else .... some miles away! I think it would be useful to know of 'numbers' or is it carte blanche got a licence go and shoot ?

  61. Comment by Terry Massey posted on

    Ode to Slaughter

    Little Skylark singing high
    Beware the aeroplane in the sky
    It is them now you have to heed
    All because of human's greed

    Roving Curlew with long beak
    Seeking worms by probing deep
    Don't ere away from water's edge
    Or else you'll end up being dead

    Peregrine Falcon so we read
    Stoops to kill at breakneck speed
    Swift and agile - flash of light
    Stay away from the gunman's sight

    We feed the Robin when times are hard
    And show them on our Christmas card
    Keep clear of buildings when making your nest
    You may end up with a redder breast!

    Jenny Wren how sweet you trill
    Booming forth from that tiny bill
    Deter from factories when building your house
    Or else you'll be likened to a mouse

    Majestic -white and regal too
    The Swan glides effortlessly on water's still
    Airports are now banned to you
    Not only now the Queen can kill

    The Bullfinch who is smartly dressed
    Is now in orchards considered a pest
    Don't sweep aside with curse'd broom
    And send this beauty to it's doom

    Oh, Natural England DON'T count me in
    For what you're doing is deemed a sin
    STOP this senseless slaughter now
    Or feels the public's wrath I vow..

  62. Comment by Sue Morgan posted on

    It is truly shocking to think that songbirds are being shot in the UK ... and with so little public scrutiny. We should be told the exact circumstances of each licence application and approval; it's hard to understand how a bullfinch can be a serious threat to agriculture. How are the licensees monitored? It seems highly likely that numbers killed may exceed the numbers permitted. It's ridiculous to claim that these licences will not affect the conservation status of affected birds; surely the purpose of such conservation listing is to enhance protection and survival? Day after day we hear that worldwide we are losing more and more species because of loss of habitats, human pressure and climate change, so it is appalling that we are authorising slaughter as well.

  63. Comment by K Tobin-Dougan posted on

    "The great british garden birdshoot"
    RSPB should be ashamed to condone this without recourse.
    This 40 year old edict should be repealed and something with more empathy introduced, what sort of message does this give to every teenager in the country with an airgun.

  64. Comment by Gary R posted on

    Utterly ridiculous. Surely we should simply state that we should work with the nature were given, not simply allow "It's in the way = kill it. Problem solved". Delaying a flight because q duck's crossing the runway is alright with me. I sound ludicrous don't I? Nature before profits sounds obscene to me.

  65. Comment by Daryl Byron West posted on

    Have we done our homework lately? Have we read the latest memo?

    This planet is undergoing the Sixth Mass Extinction Event. The causation of which is anthropogenic.

    And this 'government' authorises the killing of yet more wild species. From what I can deduce, because of alleged danger to air safety or human health and safety?

    When is the apex predator going to realise that this planet is not for its sole exploitation? Insect numbers are declining. As a result, avian species are in decline... And you authorise the killing of more! ?

    But here's the rub... Everyone seems to think that Homo sapiens-sapiens are excluded from the 6X list. They are not. As deep time has foretold, it is the large and prolific vertebrates that always perish in such events.

    Humans are large and prolific vertebrates.

    Many also seem to think that humans can mitigate the damage they have caused. They can (and will) not. Humans will be extinct before the close of this century, if not long before.

    In the 3rd MEE - Permian-Triassic - around 97% of the planets biota perished. They called this - 'The Great Dying'. The 6th MEE will eclipse that figure. Any future entity, will call that...

    'The Great Reboot'.

  66. Comment by Rod Fransham posted on

    It has been shown in the past that culling a species does not work, as for example badgers. As soon as these they are killed for any reason more will move into the vacant area. I understand that on occasions maybe pigeons that have entered a hospital or other such building then steps have to be taken and entry points sealed.

  67. Comment by NICHOLAS HALES posted on

    Heather Duncan,
    I believe the limit of time in which to reply to Freedom of Information requests has passed since 19th December, could you please let us know whether a reply has been published as yet?

  68. Comment by Sue Womersley posted on

    There are other methods to encourage birds away from livestock crops and food manufacturing. Our local ASDA uses a recorded call from a bird of prey to discourage smaller birds. Conservation is about protection and adapting our systems to live alongside nature. A lot of these birds are already struggling. Shooting IS NOT conservation. Help companies and businesses with you knowledge and expertise. Make contact with them and work with them to find solutions. Giving them a gun and permission to shoot it is a cheap lazy cop out! I'm sorry but this attitude make people so angry.
    Many thanks.

  69. Comment by clive adams posted on

    the killing of birds cannot ever be justified we should be protecting them not making lame excuses for wholesale destruction of yet another species of animals. bees insects and small mammals have fallen prey to defras blood lust when will it stop? I am in my 83rd year and trust and hope that this is not the beginning of the end of the naturalistic world that most of us wish to preserve

  70. Comment by Joan Adams posted on

    At least you have not-as far as I know- used words such as sentimental in your replies! These people on here simply care about keeping our wildlife safe and healthy.I total concur with responses above.I am really struggling with the idea of a wren, robin or skylark disrupting our food supplies/manufacture without common sense being used. This rush to KILL everything living concerns a growing percentage of us.Social media plays a huge part of course-as it should. I really believe that mutual respect and educated minds are what we need.NOT KILLING.ISN'T THERE ENOUGH OF THAT GOING ON IN OUR PLANET ALREADY!

  71. Comment by clive adams posted on

    natural England/defra are totally in favour of destroying our natural world bees and insects have been decimated by pesticides small mammals and other animals are gradually being exterminated now its the turn of the birds
    when it all stop?

  72. Comment by Lee Burrows posted on

    Wrens,ringed plovers moorhens,bullfinch etc a serious threat.....I despair at human arrogance and stupidity.

  73. Comment by ruth simmonds posted on

    there is a petition about this on

  74. Comment by Mand posted on

    Murdering scummy horrible pieces of dog poop. I really hope you reap what you sow. Despicable beyond belief ??????

  75. Comment by Martin Chedzey posted on

    Why do we have to kill the birds what about moving/ relocation. No indication on number of birds killed. Protecting wildlife I don't think so. We need more clarify on why. when and who. Time to tell us. Unnatural England!

  76. Comment by Adrian Ellison posted on

    I believe that Natural England is an organisation funded by the UK's taxpayers, which consequently makes you my employee. I hereby instruct you, with immediate effect, to cease all of your unnecessary, immoral, disproportionate and repugnant killing of any British wildlife (including all wild bird species) as described above under the pretext of prioritising agriculture, forestries, air travel et cetera. I also instruct you to investigate and to apply other, non-lethal, humane and ecologically sound solutions to the alleged problems which you claim to be addressing.

  77. Comment by Brian Aplin posted on

    As a tax payer paying for this insane slaughter I request a full and proper reply from Natural England justifying this unsustainable licence to kill endangered birds. If a flock of sparrows get into a food facility then the door has been left open or the building is deficient- the sparrows are not to blame and should not be killed.
    What evidence is there that all available bird scaring devices have actually been used and failed near airports before raptor and raven killing licences are granted by NE?
    Natural England's presumption of guilt on the part of birds is astounding.
    Is the human race increasingly going to be restricted to a sterile surgical environment devoid of bird song and beauty?

  78. Comment by Karen Benton-rose posted on

    The cost must be taken on by the farms and governments the solution to their problems must be from the farms and governmental groups but not by culling of our precious wildlife the wildlife belongs to each and every one of us the wildlife is not the preserve of farms and the government you have no right to destroy what does not belong to you our wildlife is precious and declining the government and corporations are only ever concerned about profit and nothing including humans will ever be able to stand in its way unless we demand change

  79. Comment by Karolina Wawszkowicz posted on

    I'd like to use FOI to ask who is ultimately responsible for approving these decisions please. thank you

  80. Comment by Valerie Deacon posted on

    Can you specifically say why a bullfinch might seriously damage agriculture considering how few there are and the decline of farmland birds generally.

  81. Comment by Philip Short posted on

    It appears that anything that gets in way of the human population has to be eradicated. Many of the birds under licence are rare endangered species who's number decline year on year.
    It appears we are more of a danger to the bird population than they are to us, all the Nat England are doing is giving free licence to land owners and farmers to eradicate birds of prey as previously ie Red Kites, Peregrines Golden Eagles and any other bird that might have minimal damage to agriculture. Who monitors the situation when action is deemed to be necessary to cull birds nobody I am sure!

  82. Comment by Dianne Williams posted on

    Natural England ...hang your heads in shame, this is disgraceful. Our wild birds have enough of a struggle, I am totally shocked to read this list e.g. the iconic robin/wren/protected swan/massive decline in sparrows? etc. etc. and you are allowing their slaughter?...well said Alison Hunt.

  83. Comment by j walker posted on

    there is nothing the public can say or do to stop this most of the people who do it are wealthy farmers mainly the the nasty party conservative as for james diamonds list we just have to hope when he is old he has to listen to birds song he realy hates birds

  84. Comment by Alan Tyrrell posted on

    What people would like to know is:
    How many of each species were killed,
    Why were they killed.
    what reasons were given, to get a licence.
    How easy is it to get a liecence.
    Were alternative methods considered.
    I accept that there may be good reasons for killing some birds I know that they get into churches sometimes and they are impossible to catch.
    Rather than let them starve to death they are sometimes killed.

  85. Comment by Joy Morris posted on

    I am shocked. I can't believe what I have just read. We are losing numbers but yet humans have the say !!!! We have caused their demise in the first place .

  86. Comment by Anna powles posted on

    Well Natural England Director how much are you paid by the government out of tax payers money. To slaughter all these birds without justification. Pure greed the lot of you especially the farmers time they too knew what the breadline is all about. I for one will not support the farmers markets. So the endangered spices are brought back from the brink only to be slaughtered into extinction again. How very sad Natural England you are.

  87. Comment by Jonathan Atkinson posted on

    I think it would be more beneficial for all of us to rid ourselves of a number of Civil servants/Mp's/and certain types of Taxi Drivers!... we are at more of a serious risk from these people than Robins etc; as a fellow Yorkshire man bring back Guy Fawkes

  88. Comment by Alison Gordon-Creed posted on

    As someone who has been a volunteer warden in what is now a Natural England Nature Reserve for more than 20 years, I agree totally with all the outraged comments and responses. I’ve observed that particularly over the last few years there seems to be the most minimal nod to an agenda of actually giving a toss about preserving wildlife and habitat in the UK and a far bigger agenda of generating income via private sector means to justify the salaries and existence of managerial jobs of people put in charge who seem to know next to nothing about what makes for a sustainable and balanced ecosystem. Over the years I’ve seen the knowledgeable and passionate people on the ground who put their souls into their Nature Reserves become completely demoralised by the ignorant decisions imposed on them by management who seem to have a business agenda rather than a preserve flora and fauna one. The people with the knowledge and passion usually sadly move on, leaving more and more inappropriate people in charge...hence the insane decisions with regards to licences to kill our already under threat birds for flight safety and other utterly spurious reasons.....please can someone take the long view and picture what kind of world we are heading towards when humans and their development seem to always take precedence over natural habitat and wildlife..England is relatively small and our green spaces are precious...please put completely independent people with knowledge and no agenda other than preserving what small numbers of wildlife still exist in charge.

  89. Comment by Joyce Tudor-Hughes posted on

    The listed birds which may be slaughtered under licence include those which are deemed (by whom) to interfere with human activities. Phrases such as 'Preserving public health or safety and/or preserving air safety' are being liberally used. Is it a question of priorities or spreading blame, perhaps we should consider the effects of human behaviour on the planet before incriminating birds as sole culprits, for instance to name but two instances - plastic contamination, overuse of vehicles causing toxic emissions, our very presence and population growth is, allegedly, a cause of climate change. Consider life on earth without the other species that give many people joy - birdsong, the flight of the red kite comparatively recently brought back from near extinction. Finally who is going to undertake this destruction, how will they be recruited?

  90. Comment by Tom Davies posted on

    Natural England's facts are meaningless without reference to numbers of birds culled. Very worrying. And much more information required, for example 'preserving public health' : examples please.

  91. Comment by Carole cran posted on

    I am not able to find words to tell you how discusted and appalled I am about this, you should all hang your heads in shame .

  92. Comment by Frances Blundell posted on

    Birds have as much right to be on this earth as we do. If there's a need to keep them out of buildings for hygiene reasons, block their access instead.

  93. Comment by sonya white posted on

    Why do we think we have the rights to do this? The excuses/reasons are outrageous. When will the government stop these erroneous decisions, we don't own this planet. !!

  94. Comment by Angelo Greco posted on

    I agree with all above comments.
    In order to stand a chance of being credible and "transparent" you need to make public all the supporting information for each license request.
    What risk analysis was done?
    What other measures were tried and failed?
    What evidence was presented and how verified?
    Once granted how long does a license last?
    How are the actions of the license holder audited?
    It would also be interesting to know the mission statement for your organisation "Natural England" , are you on the side of Englands nature or something else?

  95. Comment by Bill Thompson posted on

    I am incensed by this apparent carte blanche to destroy perfectly innocent creatures just for being there. They are as entitled as we are to go about their lives as we are. Probably more so. They certainly do less damage. What about all the flies and various other pests the birds eat and keep in check? I find the remarks made about starlings confusing. Does this imply the starlings are killing something? But then the whole thing is confusing. I thought Natural England was intended to protect and conserve the natural estate, not destroy it.

  96. Comment by John Fryer posted on

    We are interested in the TOTAL number of birds for which you issued death orders. Without the numbers all your explanations are meaningless. And, of course, you are totally aware of the fact that without the numbers the rest of this is just junk.

  97. Comment by John Fryer posted on

    Just how many birds have you issued permits to kill.

  98. Comment by Alex Blagden posted on

    So,who are these 'experts' at Natural England? What relevant ecological qualifications do they have?

    And as for the damage caused by wrens, limits and skylarks? Are you kidding?! Most of the birds listed because they pose a threat to aircraft are garden, wetlands or farmland birds... a long away from any flight paths.

    This legislation is yet yet another example of government punishing wildlife because it dares to remain in areas where humans have encroached.

    Sorry mr Diamond but you're justifications just don't hold water

  99. Comment by Mike H posted on

    I am stunned and appalled at the list above which contain so many bird species that are already under threat of survival. For a so called nature conservation body to issue licenses to kill this wildlife is despicable.

    In particular, recent news reports that licenses have been issued by Natural England to kill up to 170,000 birds is horrendous and beggars belief. The survival of these species is seriously threatened. This isn't conservation; it is wholesale destruction.

  100. Comment by Jo Sharp posted on

    Completely inexcusable. The reasons for culling these species are a nonsense. Most could be dealt with by other means NOT by shooting them. This is giving" carte blanche" to those who do not have the best interests of birds at heart. They will shoot for pleasure with no worries about the long term consequences.

  101. Comment by David Smith posted on

    I live in north Devon. I'm not particularly well read. It breaks my heart when the local wax cotton/ green welly brigade trundle out on a sunny morning and shoot at anything that's black and flies! To see these totally innocent creatures fall from the sky brings tears to my eyes. The people with the guns don't know and don't care what they are killing . Crows, ravens, jackdaws or blackbirds. What's the difference. It's a life form that can't fight back so it's fair game ! Apparently! They should be ashamed of themselves.

  102. Comment by Steven Ridgway posted on

    What the hell are you people doing, this as to stop. From what I have read on this subject this is out of control , This is not being properly monitored areas are being granted license to kill for there own selfish reasons. Discuusting !!!!!

  103. Comment by Andrew Luke posted on

    I agree with many of the comments previously and was interested in the 'facts' before adding to current social media outcry.

    The disclosure of which Birds and the reasons is useful though I think fairly general and open to potential abuse.

    The only way to add true context would be to add the Number of licenses issued against each bird. Actually I'd like to see the number of applications against the number issued. The number of rejections might clarify how well this is policed.

    Also, I see a couple of Doves mentioned but surely the Rock Doves/Feral Pigeons should be listed. In any given time frame, they seem far more likely to appear than many others on your lists but are missing so is this a full list or an extract?

    Thank you.

  104. Comment by Alyson posted on

    I think its absolutely sick that the government are murdering our wildlife who the hell do they think they are god i dont think so there all twisted and need locking up

  105. Comment by Sarianne Durie posted on

    I am afraid I find this list extremely shocking.
    Comments about taking proper care of things that a bird might go near seem particularly relevant.
    I am sure there will be some easy answer to explain it all - but the basic facts are shocking.
    There is enough for wildlife in Britain to contend with without being destroyed when slightly inconvenient.
    Perhaps all this goes along with excess use of pesticide, herbicide, etc., it will be the end of humanity before long, whether we like it or not, if we go on destroying what little is left of the natural world around us.

  106. Comment by Louise McKenna posted on

    I can’t believe I have just read this terrifyingly exhaustive list of species sentenced to death through sheer mediaeval ignorance. Are we living in the Dark Ages? How in God’s name can a curfew threaten air safety? Or a buzzard threaten agriculture? How many sheep do you see a raven kill per day? How many kites do you see steel piglets or rip babies from their prams? Threat to public safety? That’s us. Purely us. We pollute, we destroy, we maim and we kill senselessly. Your ignorance is more than deplorable.

  107. Comment by Gavin Hamilton posted on

    It’s somewhat hard to imagine how starlings and robins could ever be a danger to the public or herds of cows.

    Of course, the fact that these protected nesting birds are one of the biggest problems facing property developers (*see information below) when they attempt to develop brownfield sites for residential housing is nothing at all to do with the decision.

    As, I’m sure, is the fact that the Chair of Natural England, Andrew Sells, also happens to be one of the founders of Linden Homes, a property development business specialising in the development of brownfield sites for residential housing.

    Tory government ministers chose Andrew Sells – a venture capitalist with no experience of ecological or environmental matters – as the Chair of Natural England a few years ago.

    A surprise decision which I’m sure was not at all influenced by the fact that Andrew Sells is a major Tory party donor and the fact that property developers in general are some of the Tories’ biggest donors.

  108. Comment by Geoff posted on

    Totally unacceptable! Why not add the bittern, hen harrier and hobby to the list...? Makes a mockery of bird conservation! ?

  109. Comment by Barry Robson posted on

    I'm sorry, but blackbird, great tit, wren, robin, coot and moorhen are a menace to public health or safety? Curlew, peregrine falcon, red kite and HOUSE SPARROW are a threat to air safety? Unbelievable. Here on the edge of the RSPB's Geltsdale reserve in Cumbria they are shooting foxes to try and ENCOURAGE curlew to nest as their numbers are apparently very low but Natural England obviously doesn't agree and is prepared to shoot the curlew!! And shooting cormorant and goosander is as bad as the local gamekeepers shooting hen harriers - if you stock a lake with fish you must surely expect other wildlife to take advantage of it, if you stock moorland with red grouse you must expect other wildlife to take advantage of it and accept that you are going to loose some of your stock to natural predators. Or is that being too simplistic? And don't get me going about the totally useless, unnecessary , expensive culling of the ruddy duck......

  110. Comment by Margaret Robinson posted on

    Up till now, I have beem totally ignorant of the fact that Govt.issues licences for the kiĺling of wild birds and to say I'm horrified would be an understatement.
    Where are these food facilities which are being invaded by so.many sparrows and robims that they have become a threat to humam health - if such premises are not secure enough to prevent this, they are at fault and should be closed down. Killing these small birds who struggle enough to survive against the onslaught of human activity, without facing deliberate destruction, is an obscene solution.
    As for damage to agriculture in exactly what way is this ďamage caused as some of birds mentioned are relatively scarce and do not exist in such numbers as to cause our imminent starvation.
    It's time for more light to be shed on this situation in light of ever increasing destruction of habitat, woodlands, hedgerows etc are being destroyed to make way for our seemingly unending need for housing, but we have to consider other species snd not think we are so superior that we can take whatever we like.