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Killing songbirds allowed by Natural England

(22 Posts)
Baggs Sun 12-Feb-23 12:00:15

I just came across this via twtr and am amazed:

Fleurpepper Sun 12-Feb-23 12:27:16

Just don't get this. Why? Skylarks are so rare now, and so endangered by modern farming methods. Hearing a skylark high in the sky, singing aways, is such a joy and treasure. WHY?

Fleurpepper Sun 12-Feb-23 12:53:31

Another benefit of ... you know what!?!

BlueBelle Sun 12-Feb-23 13:18:28

That’s hideous

pascal30 Sun 12-Feb-23 13:20:42

I remember a wildlife photographer friend of mine who was following the path of cranes from Russia to Spain being absolutely horrified at the sheer number of hunters shooting at them as they flew over the Pyrenees.. how can it be morally right to kill birds, or any living creature just for pleasure

Fleurpepper Sun 12-Feb-23 13:23:28

Please make sure you share this and in the Press and Social media too. I am sure most people have NO idea this is happening.

Gillycats Sun 12-Feb-23 13:41:29

It’s a disgrace. Nobody needs to shoot birds (or anything else come to that) let alone our endangered species. I think the government need to tighten up our environmental laws. And ban the use of guns and air rifles. Thank you for sharing this Baggs, it’s so important that people know what’s going on. Hopefully people will be moved to complain to Natural England/DEFRA/their MP’s because unless we protest in high numbers nothing will be done.

Septimia Sun 12-Feb-23 13:46:31

I'm not condoning licences to kill songbirds at all, but the quoted article does very much generalise and sensationlise the information. The author, as so many do, has picked out information that will make him appear concerned and important.

If you look at the Natural England website, you will see that the issuing of licences is a much more complicated process than the article suggests and is not just a free-for-all.

Callistemon21 Sun 12-Feb-23 13:55:06

Is he telling the whole truth? Or is it scaremongering?

Some of the nation’s favourite songbirds such as blackbirds, blue tits and robins will receive poorer protection due to a change in policy recently announced by the Government’s nature watchdog, Natural England

In a recent letter issued to some of its stakeholders, Natural England states that it will refuse requests to issue licences that give individuals permission to control common predatory birds such as crows and magpies.

Crow and magpies feed on the eggs and chicks of other wild birds. But, as many of England’s songbirds are on the ‘green’ list of species, they will no longer be offered protection through the Individual Licence process.

NorthFace Sun 12-Feb-23 13:56:34

I agree, Septima.

Licences issued to kill skylarks are usually to do with preserving air safety. This is not a new controversy.

This from Natural England in 2018:

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:

That could be passenger flights, freight or military.

Licences to kill small birds is also to do with agriculture or sometimes when they get into food processing plants causing issues of food hygiene.

This latest from Jason Endfield is to do with falconry, the first time data has been published on this.

As always, the killing of our wild birds is about prioritising the needs and the pursuits of humans. We have to be careful about vilifying the practice if we want to travel and eat.

The falconry argument is different. In the wild these birds would take small birds as natural prey. Falcons are also used to control pigeon and seagull populations as a deterrent. A falcon in the vicinity would deter a bird from nesting in a site where it could become a nuisance.

I am not condoning the practice of killing wild birds. I am a keen birdwatcher and supporter of the RSBP but I do think we need to understand the wider issue and that we are all part of it.

Callistemon21 Sun 12-Feb-23 13:57:22

We have magpies, pigeons and new arrivals rooks nesting around here now - since they arrived we have noticed a decrease in the numbers of smaller birds such as finches and tits.

Smileless2012 Sun 12-Feb-23 13:58:25

No that is not the case. I can't do links but go to for the full story.

Georgesgran Sun 12-Feb-23 14:08:21

I’m sure there is a much wider issue here - Farmers/Landowners have always been allowed to cull certain birds as vermin.

I have numerous bird feeders and hope that feeding corvids, including pretty jays and magpies is done in the hope of these ‘killers’ leaving the small birds alone. I was horrified to watch a woodpecker haul a baby blue tit out of a nest box last year and it upset and annoyed DH to see herons grab and drown ducklings when he was fishing.
On mainland Europe I think small birds are caught in nets, rather than shot, but still totally unnecessary.

Callistemon21 Sun 12-Feb-23 14:36:27

It certainly is not. To suggest that is untrue.

Bird trapping of thusands of migrating song birds in nets goes on in the EU, something that does not happen in the UK.

On mainland Europe I think small birds are caught in nets, rather than shot, but still totally unnecessary

Yes, it is truly shocking. EU laws are supposed to prevent this but there are loopholes and, of course, some member states will always find a way around and continue regardless.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 12-Feb-23 14:47:43

Bear in mind that Natural England is run by DEFRA and not an independent body.

Theresa Coffey is a disaster as minister. She is overseeing amongst other idiocies the fact that only 6% of our rivers are in good order.

The destruction of the environment protection laws will finish England off as far as biodiversity and species protection is concerned.

Oreo Sun 12-Feb-23 14:53:25


Another benefit of ... you know what!?!

No, what?
Is it to make us more in line with some European countries, don’t they kill lots of songbirds in France?

Callistemon21 Sun 12-Feb-23 15:07:22



Another benefit of ... you know what!?!

No, what?
Is it to make us more in line with some European countries, don’t they kill lots of songbirds in France?

Yes, glue trapping, just barbaric, then shooting them. It is supposedly illegal in France now.
The LPO says France continues to kill millions of birds every year. Some of the “traditional” methods used involve huge nets, wire nooses that strangle the birds, or traps that crush the birds with stones. As it did for decades with chasse à la glu, the French government has allowed exemptions from the EU directive.
The hunters were astonished when Macron brought in laws against glue trapping fairly recently.

Malta still gets around the ban somehow.
Illegal trapping goes on in Italy , the birds suffer a slow, miserable death and songbirds are served up in restaurants as a delicacy.

Many millions of migrating songbirds are trapped in nets around the Mediterranean before they even reach our shores.

MerylStreep Sun 12-Feb-23 15:13:28


Another benefit of ... you know what!?!

So leaving the eu has caused this.
How do you square the fact that the French and Spanish Neanderthals are still shooting song birds in their millions.

Oreo Sun 12-Feb-23 15:14:04

Uggggh, just horrible.😡

Smileless2012 Sun 12-Feb-23 15:15:31

So leaving the eu has caused this caused what? It is isn't happening here.

Baggs Sun 12-Feb-23 15:50:53

Thank you, northface and septimia. I was already aware of the use of falcons to clear airfields but had forgotten. I will check out new information.

Katie59 Sun 12-Feb-23 19:08:33

In the UK there is no sporting interest in shooting small birds
The Independant article is very sparse on “why” the licences were granted.
Large flocks birds of birds of any size do present a threat to aircraft safely and have caused incidents.

Bullfinches and others can devastate fruit crops like Cherries

Starlings are a major threat to cattle because their droppings have contaminated feed and cause salmonella outbreaks. You have all seen the”murmurations” of starlings, that number settling on one farm causes real problems, in the West Country especially.