Natural England – Licensed to Kill!

I knew nothing about “Natural England” whatsoever until this morning, when I spotted the following article on the Guardian website:-

Call for killing of birds deemed health hazard splits conservationists

The “About” page on Natural England’s website states the following:-

“Natural England is an Executive Non-departmental Public Body responsible to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Our purpose is to protect and improve England’s natural environment and encourage people to enjoy and get involved in their surroundings.”

So we see that they are tied in with Owen Paterson, which immediately raises alarm signals, and sure enough, the evidence is not hard to find:-
Natural England overruled its adviser to extend badger cull in Gloucestershire
Aerial pesticide spraying of UK woods to go ahead despite fears over wildlife

“A consultation by Natural England, the body that advises the government on the natural environment, has made the case for allowing people to destroy the birds’ nests and remove their eggs, amid growing concerns that they threaten health and safety.”

“Natural England is also looking at similar measures to permit “taking, damaging and destroying of nests and eggs” for pied wagtails and starlings.”

“The consultation, which closes tomorrow, explains that the birds’ nests should be considered fair targets if they “present a potential hazard”, such as being found in ventilation flues”.

I downloaded the consultation and read it completely, (well, almost completely), and found some horrors and a few issues with it. Unfortunately, with it closing tomorrow, there is no time left to provide an input to it, hence this post.

1. Even though a species may be “Red-Listed”, which is the highest level of concern for its conservation, it could still find its way onto a General Licence – which means it is “Open Season” on the poor creatures.
2. General phrases are used for justification of inclusion on a “kill list”, such as:-

    Preventing serious agricultural damage or disease
    Conserving flora and fauna
    Preserving public health and safety
    Air safety

with no explanation of the mechanisms involved, or the extent of the damage so caused.

And what species are we talking about exactly? Here is the list:-

Species targetted by “Kill” Licence
Carrion Crow Collared Dove Curlew
Egyptian Geese Greater Black-backed Gulls Greylag Geese
Herring Gulls Hooded Crow Indian house-crow
Jackdaw Jay Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Mallard Pied Wagtail Oystercatcher
Robin Starling Sacred Ibis
Stock Dove
Trap and Release License
Pied Wagtail Blue Tit Great Tit
Dunnock Song Thrush

The sale of both live and dead birds (and even some eggs) is regulated, and the sale of dead Mute Swans is complicated by the Crown Prerogative.

Schedule 4 birds, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, have their own special regulations.

The scale of the red tape here is simply staggering, but how else do we provide employment for a department of some 2000 people? (Sorry, can’t find the reference for that at the moment).

But this?!?!?:-

“Issue a new General Licence permitting the taking and temporary possession of great crested newts, by schools and educational facilities for educational purposes. This licence would be subject to a number of conditions, including restricting the methods of taking (including torch, hand and net, but not bottle trapping) to ensure captive great crested newts are kept in suitable conditions and for a suitable length of time.”

The mind boggles!

I am convinced that in many cases, common sense would do very nicely, and the regulation is completely unnecessary. If you have a birds nest in a ventilation flue, for example, the judicious use of a bit of wire mesh would keep the birds out of it altogether.

The point is, we should should be looking for alternative ways of dealing with the problems,
if in fact they are problems,

And not killing wildlife!

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