Changes spare top birds of Britain and allows trapping and releasing protected species found on farmland
The Guardian, Wednesday 17 September 2014 18.00 BST
Landowners wanting to be allowed to shoot robins, pied wagtails, starlings and other favourite birds seen eating their crops have been rebuffed by the government. But shooters will be able to legally kill or destroy the nests of Egyptian geese and trap and release protected birds like song thrushes, blue tits and dunnocks found foraging in food stores and barns.
Natural England, the government’s wildlife adviser, was swamped by over 2,000 responses from individuals and competing shooting and conservation groups earlier this year when it consulted the public on 46 proposals to change the licences which dertermine what wildlife can be legally controlled. Twenty-five changes were agreed by the board but many others were rejected.
Proposals dismissed included allowing schools to take temporary possession of great crested newts for educational purposes, and taking some species of the crow family off the list of birds that can be legally shot to protect crops and health.
But it was agreed that the jackdaw, jay and collared dove should continue to be killed under “general licences” that prevent agricultural damage. All three species have stable or rising populations, though none has been proven to constitute a threat to farming.