Form

Wild birds: licence to control certain species

You must apply for an individual licence to control certain wild birds if there's no replacement general licence for the revoked licences GL04, GL05 and GL06.

Documents

General licences and the next steps - position statement

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Application to preserve public health or public safety (19-01)

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Application to preserve public health or public safety (19-01) - Microsoft Word version

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Application to conserve flora and fauna (19-02)

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Application to conserve flora and fauna (19-02) - Microsoft Word version

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Application to prevent serious damage (19-03)

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Application to prevent serious damage (19-03) - Microsoft Word version

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Application to prevent the spread of disease (19-04)

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Application to prevent the spread of disease (19-04) - Microsoft Word version

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Details

Natural England revoked 3 general licences for wild birds on Thursday 25 April after a legal challenge by Wild Justice:

  • GL04: licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to prevent serious damage or disease
  • GL05: licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to preserve public health or public safety
  • GL06: licence to kill or take certain species of wild birds to conserve wildlife and plants

Replacement general licences so far include:

If none of the new general licences cover your circumstances, you must apply for an individual licence if you need to:

  • preserve public health and safety for any species other than Canada geese
  • conserve flora and fauna (plants and wildlife) for any species
  • prevent serious damage to crops by any species other than wood pigeon
  • prevent serious damage to vegetables or fruit, or foodstuffs for livestock, by any species
  • prevent the spread of disease by any species

All wild birds are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 but a licence allows you to control them subject to strict conditions.

You cannot apply for a licence to kill birds simply because they are damaging your property, such as your car or house, or if they’re a nuisance.

Who can apply

You can apply for an individual licence if you’re:

  • the land owner, occupier or anyone authorised by the owner or occupier, including an agent or pest controller
  • authorised in writing by the local authority
  • authorised in writing by any England, Scotland or Wales conservation body, a district board for fisheries or local fisheries committee
  • authorised in writing by the Environment Agency, a water undertaker or a sewerage undertaker

‘In writing’ can mean by email.

Birds you can apply for an individual licence to control are:

  • Canada geese - if the circumstances are not covered by GL28
  • carrion crows - if the circumstances are not covered by GL26
  • collared doves
  • Egyptian geese
  • feral pigeons
  • herring gulls
  • Indian house crows
  • jackdaws
  • jays
  • lesser black-backed gulls
  • magpies
  • monk parakeets
  • ring-necked parakeets
  • rooks
  • sacred ibis
  • woodpigeons - if the circumstances are not covered by GL31

You will not get a licence to take or kill herring gulls, but you may get a licence to:

  • take, damage or destroy their nests
  • take or destroy their eggs

You can eat birds killed under this licence, but you cannot sell them for human consumption (except for woodpigeons).

The individual licence allows you to work across England and on any land, as long as you have that land owner’s permission.

If you need to kill birds before you get a licence

You can legally kill birds while your licence application is being processed if you can show that it’s necessary to:

  • preserve public health or safety, or air safety
  • prevent the spread of disease
  • prevent serious damage to livestock or their food, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters

You must:

  • have sent your application for a licence to Natural England before you take any action
  • keep detailed records of what you’ve done (this could include a log of predation and legal efforts to address the problem)

If you kill birds to prevent serious damage to livestock or their food, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters, you must also:

  • be able to show that there was no other satisfactory solution available
  • notify the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by emailing birds2019@naturalengland.org.uk as soon as possible, including your name and address

How you can catch or kill wild birds

You can apply to control certain species by:

  • taking or killing the birds
  • damaging, taking or destroying their nests
  • taking or destroying their eggs

You must follow animal welfare laws and kill birds in a quick and humane manner.

As well as other non-lethal methods, the licence lets you use a:

  • semi-automatic weapon
  • cage trap that does not meet the size requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act
  • hand-held or hand-propelled net to take birds not in flight

For feral pigeons only, you can also use:

  • a device to illuminate a target
  • sighting devices for night shooting
  • mirrors, lighting or other dazzling devices

If you use a cage trap, you can only use the following decoy birds:

  • crows
  • jackdaws
  • magpies
  • monk parakeets
  • ring-necked parakeets
  • rooks

You are allowed to use Larsen traps and multi-catch cage traps as long as you comply with GL33 Standard Licence conditions for trapping wild birds and using decoys.

How to apply

Right-click on the relevant form and save it to your computer. Natural England recommends you do not use a tablet or mobile device as the forms may not work on these devices.

Save your changes as you fill in the form. When complete, check you have included all the information required before you post or email it to the address on the form.

If you need a paper copy of a form, call Natural England on 020 8026 1089.

Contact

If you have further questions, you can call Natural England enquiries on 0300 060 3900 or email enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk.

Published 25 April 2019
Last updated 17 May 2019 + show all updates
  1. Position statement updated.
  2. Replaced PDF application forms to fix a problem with submitting completed forms.
  3. Updated content on applying for an individual licence to control certain wild bird species when a replacement general licence for the revoked licences GL04, GL05 and GL06 does not exist.
  4. Updated 'If you need to kill birds before you get a licence section' with need to keep records of action taken.
  5. Added Microsoft Word versions of the forms and a note to explain how to use the forms if you have problems viewing them from a mobile device.
  6. Updated versions of the 4 application forms.
  7. Position statement added.
  8. Added instructions on using the forms.
  9. Replaced application forms.
  10. First published.