AFTER Natural England last week revoked three general licences for bird control, two Tynedale farmers have spoken about what the decision means for those working at ground level.

Rochester farmer Tim Robson, of Cottonshope Farm, has seen first-hand the devastation birds of prey can cause, having in the past had to shoot four of his ewes, when a crow attack left them with severe injuries to their eyes and stomachs. Tim said he feared that without the ability to control birds more attacks on his flock could follow.

“Aside from my livestock, I also wanted to protect the curlew and lapwings which nest on my land,” said Tim. “There is now there is a tenth of curlew left on farm to what there was 30 years ago, which is incredibly sad.

“Farmers don’t have a vendetta against birds, despite the impression on social-media. We love them, and therefore want to protect those at risk from being overrun by birds of prey.”

Whilst farmers are still able to apply for a shooting licence if they have previously struggled with bird control, Tim said finding the time during lambing season to complete the long-winded application process was difficult.

Cambo farmer Hans Pörksen said the decision to revoke the licences would create a further “nature imbalance”, and that the “Chris Packhams of the world” would cause more harm than good to wildlife.

“I love seeing all birds on the farm, including birds of prey, but when they rule the roost in huge numbers, the damage is irreparable.

“Last month I heard a curlew on the farm for the first time in years, but who knows when I’ll hear it again now.”