In April this year, Natural England announced changes to three general licences (GL 04/05/06) for controlling specific wild bird species. This caused considerable confusion and chaos with regard to what people should do next and if they’re shooting lawfully.

Here, ELEY’s outdoors ambassador, Mick Garvey, gives his say on the situation.

“It’s been a while now since the fiasco of the revoking of the General Licences. I like many other contributors for various magazines and social media, have been keeping a close eye on the developments. These seem to have been slow in coming and have left many bewildered and confused.

The three new General Licences are somewhat confusing to many. My phone is a constant hotline for people wanting to know “can I shoot pigeons” and “is shooting crows allowed.” Well the answer is yes, but only if you follow the guidelines of the General Licence. I.e. non-lethal methods have been tried first and exhausted. It’s important to be aware that proof of what methods have been tried could also be asked for.

One thing that is apparent is too many shooters did’t understand the General Licence and some didn’t even know it existed. People panicked, over reacted and things have allegedly been said and done which cannot be condoned. Although without going into too much detail I hear there is some doubt over certain allegations.

I have seen so much misunderstanding on social media sites where it has been suggested that there would be a charge of £150 for the licence and any amendments would be charged at an hourly rate of up to £150. All of which is rubbish as this applies to professional contractors who carry out pest control on a much grander scale. I have even seen this posted by magazine contributors who should know better.

To simplify it we just need to read, understand and abide by the new General Licence. If in any doubt don’t pull the trigger. This should be the case in any doubtful situation when shooting.

I actually applied four times for different individual licences. Not particularly because I needed them but to see how the process would work. The answer was quite plain … badly! Out of the four applications I received one reply which asked me to apply again for a different individual licence which wasn’t available at the time of the original application (the day after the announcement). I did this and have heard nothing since.

My thoughts are that Mr Packham and co. pressured the Natural England team who in turn failed to act quickly and made the decision to revoke the old General Licence as it wasn’t fit for purpose. Even though it had been in place many years, I think they didn’t want to get into a court battle that they’d lose.

I firmly believe that it will be sorted hopefully sometime soon and we should be in a better place than with previous General Licences. A statement of clarity so as to avoid any issues of doubt should be issued. Then normal service can be resumed by using common sense along with a better understanding of how conservation works alongside pest control in the countryside.

To view ELEY’s full range of .22lr pest control rounds, visit our hunting ammunition page.