As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Bird charity and shooting group clash over changes to law on crop protection

By WMNPBowern | Posted: May 20, 2014

Farmers who shoot pigeons and rooks to protect their crops should be ordered to consider and record alternative means of controlling them before resorting to the gun, the RSPB has told Natural England.

In its response to NE’s consultation over changes to the general licences under which pest bird species can be controlled, the charity also wants anyone who shoots birds to record and report on the numbers culled.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation yesterday responded to the suggestion by warning that farmers and those who shoot as part of crop protection measures could find themselves “strangled by bureaucracy.”

NE closed the issue to consultation on Monday. A spokesman told the Western Morning News there had been a significant level of response and it would be some months before recommendations for changing the licence were put to Defra for approval.

Graham Madge, spokesman for the RSPB wrote in a blog on the bird charity’s website that they opposed a number of changes put forward as part of NE’s consultation document, including a proposal that the nests of robins, pied wagtails and starlings could be destroyed if they posed a public health risk.

But the response from the RSPB likely to cause the biggest concern among the shooting community and farmers who grow crops vulnerable to bird attack will be on the right way to deal with pigeons, rooks and other pest species.

Mr Madge writes: “The level of killing is unregulated and unrecorded. Natural England are looking to explore a system of reporting and asked for views on whether this should be voluntary or mandatory. Experience suggests that only a compulsory system stands a chance of working.”

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