Countryside Alliance responds to DAERA revoking three general licences

General Licences are due to be expire/revoked by Department Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as of midnight tonight (17 October 2022) unless last minute intervention takes place.
This will put thousands of people at risk of unknowingly breaking the law whilst controlling species such as pigeons and carrion crows from Tuesday (18th October 2022). The ability to control several species of wild birds through licensing to prevent serious damage or disease, to preserve public health or public safety, and to conserve flora and fauna under ‘open licences’ will all be revoked in an unprecedented move by the statutory agency.
With no alternatives in place from DAERA the revocation and confusion over the coming days and weeks will leave farmers, pest controllers and conservationists with significant problems. And leaving huge uncertainty about the ability to control wild birds going forward.
This comes at a particularly sensitive time when, crops need protecting from pigeons, and dozens of red-listed species need protection from corvids such as crows. The decision also has a direct impact on pest controllers who use the General Licence to preserve public health and safety. Any delays to licences being granted because of this revocation could risk human health as well as that of livestock and wildlife.
Gary McCartney, the Director of the Countryside Alliance in Northern Ireland, said: “Whatever DAERA’s legal advice, the withdrawal of Open General Licences at incredibly short notice is completely impractical and irresponsible, and will result in thousands of people unknowingly at risk of breaking the law. Pigeons, corvids and other species that damage crops, livestock and biodiversity have always been regularly and lawfully controlled without unnecessary, illogical and dangerous bureaucratic restrictions. To withdraw the historic ability to manage these species without individual licences with virtually no notice is a recipe for disaster which could threaten the health of humans, as well as livestock and wildlife. Many of those involved in pest control will be unaware of the changes, and this decision will only serve to bring the law into disrepute”.
We have been in contact with DAERA throughout the day and have requested an urgent updates. Countryside Alliance Ireland will be keeping members in Northern Ireland up to date with this evolving issue.”
Members should make sure the relevant General License are in place before resuming the control of pest birds. Game shooting such as pheasants or duck is not effected as it is covered under other legislation.
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