Wild birds: licence to take or kill for conservation purposes (GL06)

Get a general licence as a land owner or other authorised person to catch alive or kill wild birds to protect plants and wildlife.

This publication was withdrawn on

This licence has been revoked. Read Wild bird general licences: Defra and Natural England’s approach for details of replacement licences.

Applies to England


[Withdrawn] Licence to kill or take certain birds to protect plants and wildlife (including wild birds) (GL06)

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If you’re a land owner, occupier or other authorised person you can use this general licence to carry out a range of otherwise prohibited activities against certain wild birds. You do not need to apply for this general licence but you must meet its conditions and follow its instructions.

You are an authorised person if you’re:

  • the land owner, occupier or anyone authorised by the owner or occupier
  • 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

You can only use this licence to protect:

  • wildlife (including wild birds)
  • plants

Birds you can catch alive or kill with this licence

With this licence you can catch alive or kill:

  • crows
  • jackdaws
  • feral pigeons
  • jays
  • lesser black-backed gulls
  • magpies
  • rooks

You can catch alive or kill, as well as take, damage or destroy the nests, or take or destroy the eggs of:

  • Canada geese
  • Egyptian geese
  • monk parakeets
  • ring-necked parakeets
  • sacred ibises
  • Indian house crows

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

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

How you can catch alive or kill wild birds

In addition to other legal methods, this licence lets you use a:

  • semi-automatic weapon
  • cage trap that doesn’t 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
Published 1 January 2015
Last updated 23 April 2019 + show all updates
  1. Notice that this licence will be revoked on 25 April.

  2. Replaced licence with new version issued 1 January 2019

  3. Replaced licence with new version issued 1 January 2018

  4. Replaced licence with new version issued 1 January 2017

  5. Replaced licence with new version issued 1 January 2016.

  6. terms and conditions updated for clarity

  7. First published.