The High Court has this week ruled that ‘General Licences’ allowing farmers in Wales to shoot bird “pest” species such as crows and woodpigeons, are legal.

The ruling came after a High Court challenge by wildlife campaigning body Wild Justice.

All wild birds are protected by law. However, in certain circumstances, where NRW is satisfied that there is no satisfactory non-lethal solution, lethal control methods can be authorised under licence.

Today’s decision means that the three General Licences which were subject to the legal challenge can continue to be used to control certain wild bird species. They are available for the purpose of preventing serious damage or disease to crops or livestock, protecting public health and conserving certain species of wild birds.

Ceri Davies, NRW’s Executive Director for Evidence, Planning and Policy said:

We are pleased that the High Court has judged these General Licences to be lawful and the judgment confirms the evidence based and proportionate approach taken by NRW.

We will continue to review, update and assess all our approaches to licensing and want to do this in the most collaborative way possible with all stakeholders.

Meanwhile Wild Justice, who said they will not be challenging the ruling said the review had brought some success.  A spokesperson said:

“The  judgment further limits the casual killing of birds under general licences and has implications for general licences in other parts of the UK.

“Wild Justice is delighted at the content of the judgment, and its implications, even though the judge did not go as far as saying that the current licences are unlawful.

The 2021 General Licences are on NRW’s website and can be downloaded for use. Anyone who intends to use lethal methods to control birds not covered by a general licence will still need to apply for a specific licence.