Wales: Licences Granted To Kill 100 Linnets and 19 Other Red/Amber List Species : 2448 Birds At Risk
Twenty Threatened Species On Welsh Hit List (01/17 to 09/18)
In the wake of the shocking news that both Scottish Natural Heritage and Natural England have been issuing licences to shoot some of our most treasured birds, come more awful revelations, this time from Wales.
Many people have been in touch with me, lamenting the apparent decline of birds in Wales, so it is with a heavy heart that I share with you these statistics.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the body that claims to 'maintain and enhance biodiversity', has been busy issuing its own licences to kill.
Figures from a FOI request* show that in less than two years (01/17 to 09/18), 73 licences were issued covering a staggering 2,448 birds of at least 20 species.
All of these birds are on the RSPB Red and Amber lists.
Some might say that it makes NRW's slogan of 'Looking after our environment for people and nature' seem a little spurious.
NRW issued licences that permitted the killing of a diverse list of species that included Linnets, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipits, Lapwings and Skylarks. Though a number of the individual licences ultimately resulted in no reported deaths, many more do not detail the number of birds actually killed as the figures had not yet been submitted by the time the information was collated. That in itself might make one wonder just how NRW monitors the culls once permission has been granted. They say in respect of the unknown totals "we have not received licence reports for some of the licences listed on the attached spreadsheet. This is because most of these licences are still either current or have just recently expired."
Hundreds Of Birds Confirmed Killed
But some figures are confirmed and are very worrying.
In the case of Gulls and Starlings at least, it appears that a very high number were taken while many more are likely to have been killed by the time the final figures were logged.
NRW issued licences to kill up to 617 Herring Gulls, 499 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (mostly to 'preserve public health and safety'), and a staggering 1022 Starlings (some of the allocation to 'preserve air safety' but also bizarrely to 'prevent serious damage to cattle feed').
(...killing birds because they are damaging cattle feed? Makes no sense to me)...
Another reason given as justification for culling both Starlings and various species of Gull was (bizarrely) to prevent 'serious damage to livestock' including chickens, cattle and lambs.
(How, one might ask, does a Starling carry out serious damage to a cow?)
All in all it seems that randomly allocated reasons are given as justification for issuing licences to kill some of our most threatened species.
One of the saddest statistics from the list is that of two licences to kill a total of 100 Linnets for being a threat to air safety. While we all appreciate that ensuring the safety of air traffic is essential, one has to wonder whether permitting the extermination of 100 Linnets is entirely necessary, or indeed appropriate, in order to maintain public welfare. One of the Linnet licences resulted in no reported birds being taken but the outcome of the second licence, allowing for a further 50 birds to be killed, is not confirmed.
Other permits enabled applicants to kill Curlews, Oyster-catchers, Stock Doves and Kestrels (also for 'preserving air safety').
Remember the Passenger Pigeon.....
So, there we have it. The full tally of birds is below.
ALL of these are red/amber listed species.
Only birds on the red and amber conservation lists are included, so there will be many many more birds killed under different licences which do not appear on this list, for example ravens and pigeons.
The long term survival of our struggling birds appears to be in serious doubt while these public bodies are in charge of 'protecting' our precious wildlife. Unless this changes, we will surely see many more extinctions reminiscent of the Passenger Pigeon's infamous demise during the 19th century when a population of 5 billion was reduced to zero in a hundred years because humankind found reasons to 'control' these beautiful creatures.
It seems that little has changed.
An urgent and widespread shift in attitude towards wildlife is needed.
The issuing of licences to kill threatened birds - just because they are are in conflict with human activity - needs to stop.
Otherwise, make no mistake, they will be gone. Forever.
Totals of birds permitted to be taken by NRW between 01/17 and 09/18 (bird numbers associated with each individual licence have been added together)
* I am extremely grateful to Mike Bosley for providing these statistics, the result of his Freedom of Information request to NRW.
Herring Gull 617
Lesser Black-backed Gull 499
European Starlings 1022
Great Black-Backed Gull 29
House Sparrow 16
Black Headed Gull 65
Common Gull 2
Meadow Pipit 2
Mistle Thrush 2
Song Thrush 2
In addition another licence was issued to control an unspecified number of "Wild birds"
- this licence is explained by NRW as follows:- "the number of wild birds permitted to be killed under the licence was not specified; this is due to the fact that the licence covered works along an extensive electricity line, and it was therefore not possible to specify a number. Please note that the licence did not permit the killing of Schedule 1 species."
This is worryingly vague.....
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