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Protected Birds and the Law

In the UK the principal piece of legislation protecting birds is the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and its subsequent amendments. The governing body is the Department of the Environment Food & Rural Affairs, DEFRA.

In the act it states, “all wild birds, their nest and their eggs are protected by law. However there are currently twelve exempt species including Herring gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Feral Pigeons/Feral Doves all of which are recognised by DEFRA as a nuisance pest, and may be controlled by humane methods under a DEFRA general licence."

GENERAL LICENCE (WML – GL05 )

To kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety

This licence permits landowners, occupiers and other Authorised Persons to carry out a range of otherwise prohibited activities against the species of wild birds listed on the licence. This licence may only be relied upon where the activities are carried out for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety, and users must comply with licence terms and conditions. These Conditions include the requirement that the user must be satisfied that legal (including non-lethal) methods of resolving the problem are ineffective or impracticable.

Subject to all the terms and conditions of this licence and solely for the purpose stated above, this licence permits Authorised Persons: i. to kill or take any of the wild birds listed at (a) and (b) below, to take, damage or destroy their nests or to take or destroy their eggs:

to take, damage or destroy the nests, or to take or destroy the eggs of:

For more information on general licences follow this link to DEFRA’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-take-or-kill-for-health-or-safety-purposes

Seagulls

Causing suffering to the gulls is illegal. Only the occupier or owner of a building can take action to control herring gulls. If you own or occupy a building, you can employ a pest controller under a DEFRA general licence to take action against Herring Gulls and Lesser Black Backed Gulls on your behalf. It is our company policy to employ only non-lethal means against gulls.

Pigeons

Feral Pigeons are a common pest and whilst not protected by law must still be treated humanely when being controlled under the DEFRA governance. Causing them harm or prolonged suffering is illegal and again the removal of pigeons needs to be professionally undertaken by trained individuals under a DEFRA general licence.

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