The Welsh Government’s statutory nature conservation agency, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), is currently hosting a public consultation on its proposed changes to the General Licences (the licences which permit the killing of certain bird species, in certain circumstances, typically for public health & safety, for the protection of crops and livestock, and for nature conservation purposes).
This consultation is a direct response to a successful legal challenge by Wild Justice (see here) who had argued that the previous General Licences were too loose and permitted too much ‘casual killing’ without lawful or scientific justification.
It’s good to see NRW reviewing the terms of the General Licences and it’s especially pleasing to see that the review includes suggested improvements to the regulations on trap use. There are, however, some idiotic proposals on the table. For example, NRW argues that it’s not planning to introduce a mandatory trap registration and tagging scheme because previously there has been ‘very little demand’ for trap registration by trap users!!!! Good grief, NRW! Of course the trap users aren’t going to want trap registration or a tag that could identify the trap operator, because then they’d be identifiable when a trap offence has been committed. Without an identification tag, the trap operator(s) can deny all knowledge and simple give a ‘no comment’ response to the police. That’s how they avoid prosecution, duh!
Birds of prey, especially buzzards, are accidentally caught inside crow cage traps because they’re attracted by the decoy bird or dead animals/food inside the trap. It’s not an offence to trap a bird of prey, but it is an offence for the trap operator not to release it, unharmed, within 24 hours. Some trap operators, particularly on game-shooting estates, do not release the trapped raptor and it dies in the trap. If there isn’t a tag on the trap identifying the trap operator, a prosecution is not possible. Photo by RSPB.
It’s now important that NRW hears from as many people as possible to encourage them to enact the good proposals for their General Licences and ditch the ridiculous ones.
The public consultation is open to anyone (e.g. you don’t have to reside in Wales to participate) and it’s available online until this Thursday, the 11th November.
Wild Justice has provided a helpful template for responding to the consultation and I’d urge as many of you as possible to please get involved and let NRW know the strength of feeling on the welfare and conservation of wild birds. This is NOT about trying to ‘shut down shooting’ or even to eradicate species control as many in the game-shooting industry are falsely claiming; this is about ensuring the General Licences are scientifically and lawfully appropriate, that trap operators are held to account, and that the General Licences no longer permit the casual killing of hundreds of thousands of birds.