Wild Justice launches new legal challenge against general licence

The conservation group is challenging aspects of Natural England's new licence GL26
The conservation group is challenging aspects of Natural England's new licence GL26

Wild Justice has launched a fresh legal challenge against a general licence recently introduced by Natural England.

The environmental group, founded by wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham, is challenging certain aspects of the general licence to control carrion crows (GL26).

The new legal challenge comes as farmers, landowners and gamekeepers highlight how they are still 'counting their losses everyday' after the sudden revocation of three general licences in April.

Since then, Natural England has issued out numerous new general licences.

The agency issued GL26 on April 28 for the control of carrion crows to protect livestock.

Natural England's Interim Chief Executive, Marian Spain said it would bring “peace of mind” to those who needed to control crows.

But Wild Justice has called the licence a 'shoddy document'.

Director of the group, Mark Avery said: “It does not form a sound basis to justify widespread, unmonitored, unlimited control of carrion crows to protect livestock.

“We are glad that Defra has promised a proper review of licensing of the killing of wild birds because, on the evidence of this licence, that killing often amounts to unjustified casual killing.

“We call upon Defra to announce the date and substance of that review as quickly as possible so that these matters can properly be examined before 2020’s licences are issued,” he said.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (NGO), a fierce critic of Natural England's move to revoke general licences, also criticised GL26.

The group called the new general licence 'far more restrictive' than the 5-page licence it replaced.

Liam Bell, NGO Chairman, said: “Natural England’s new crow licence is hurried, botched and completely unfit for purpose. It must go back to the drawing board and we have offered our help in drafting a replacement licence that is workable and clear.

“That will take time, however, and vulnerable young gamebirds, lambs and other livestock cannot be left this spring without protection from crows.”