There are just ten weeks remaining to tell Defra why pest species like the magpie and jay need to remain on the English general licences, the National Gamekeepers’ Organiation (NGO) is reminding its members. Defra’s ongoing public survey is every licence user’s chance to make their voice heard and it ends on 5 December 2019. The survey can be completed here.
It is crucial that licence users provide their experiences to Defra to help prevent next year’s English licences going the way of their equivalents in Wales, where it has just been announced that species such as rook will removed from licences as of 7 October 2019.
NGO Chairman, Liam Bell, said: “It is essential that everyone who relies on general licences, whether to help gamebirds, conserve wildlife or to control pests, gets involved now and makes their voice heard.”
As well as completing the Defra survey, NGO members are also encouraged to complete a survey created with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which is building a case to leave general licences much as they are. This additional survey only takes ten minutes and will add considerably to the call to keep things as they are. The GWCT survey can be found here.
Liam Bell, continued: “The NGO and other countryside organisations will do all they can to keep the English general licences in place and workable but people power is crucial. Decisions on future licences will be made based on evidence from users’ personal experiences. I’ve completed the Defra survey and the one being run by the GWCT and I urge all NGO members and other general licence users to do the same. We only have a few weeks left.”
Earlier this year, Natural England was panicked into withdrawing the three most used general licences at just two days’ notice, throwing the work of gamekeepers, farmers and pest controllers throughout England into chaos and providing a taste of what life could be like if we lost general licensing altogether. Fortunately, Defra took back control and issued replacement licences but in doing so committed to a more in-depth review of the issues before making ‘further changes’. The Defra review ends on 5 December 2019.