Wild birds: general licence to take or kill for health or safety purposes

Get a general licence as a land owner or other authorised person to catch alive or kill wild birds to preserve public health or public safety (licence GL05).



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 don’t 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 one of the following:

  • 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 preserve public health or public safety.

You can’t use this licence to kill birds because they are damaging your property, such as your car or house, or if they’re a nuisance.

Birds you can catch alive or kill with this licence

With this licence you can catch alive or kill:

  • crows
  • collared doves
  • jackdaws
  • jays
  • lesser black-backed gulls
  • magpies
  • pigeons (feral and woodpigeon)
  • 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
  • monk parakeets

You can damage or destroy the nests, or to take or destroy their eggs of:

  • herring gulls

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 (other than woodpigeons) you can’t 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