Today I have asked Natural England if they will consider suspending the issuing of licences to kill Herring Gulls.
"It would be prudent to suspend the issuing of further licences"
The population of this iconic species has been in free-fall for several years, its numbers having dropped by up to 82% across the UK and Ireland according to some estimates.
With this in mind, I have asked the Operations Director at Natural England if the agency would consider an urgent rethink over the lethal control of the species - and a suspension in granting licences to kill the birds.
I have suggested that "In the light of these statistics, I feel that it would be prudent to suspend the issuing of further licences to kill Herring Gulls..."
Hysteria in the press
There have been some irresponsible, over the top, media reports in recent weeks which have encouraged the already widespread and unwarranted disdain for the birds and my fear is that Natural England, and their counterparts in other countries of the UK, might respond to this hysteria by caving in to demand from local councils and others by issuing kill licences - when in fact educating the public, along with a more intelligent approach by local authorities, would be more appropriate.
Any problems perceived to be caused by Herring Gulls are more likely to be due to littering by members of the public, mismanagement by local councils and a general lack of understanding about the behaviour of this once treasured species.
Massive Numbers Of Herring Gulls Targeted
I recently reported that Natural England granted permission to kill 7000 Herring Gulls over a period of just two years. I have asked them for an explanation of these licences and I'm due to hear from them regarding this matter within the next few days.
Meanwhile I feel it is critically important to ensure that no further lethal control licences are granted to kill this species, at least until such time as a thorough re-assessment of the population has been undertaken and verified by an independent body.
I'll update further when I have a response from Natural England.
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