EVIDENCE which details the impact of Natural England’s bird control licence withdrawal on farmers and agricultural workers has been published by the Government.

Natural England had revoked general licences GL04, 05 and 06 in April, after a legal challenge by wildlife protection organisation Wild Justice.

But Environment Secretary Michael Gove has since issued three new general licences for bird management, based on the findings of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) call for evidence in relation to: the impact of the licence withdrawal; the effectiveness and practicability of alternatives to killing wild birds and the implications of the revocation for the protection of wild birds, and the impacts on all farming sectors including disease, human health and nature conservation efforts.

Between April and May, 4,378 reports in total were submitted in response to DEFRA.

These either raised concerns or provided evidence of crow attacks on lambs, the risk of predation for eggs and fledglings of birds of conservation concern.

The National Farmers’ Union were one of 36 organisations which issued a response. The union told the Government that their members “without exception have expressed concern with the sudden removal of general licences and the impact that a period without general licences for control of amongst other species, carrion crow and woodpigeon, has had on their business”.

The Hunt Saboteurs Organisation and Animal Aid, which called the licences “cruel” were opposed to the move.

The three new licences allow users to control certain species of wild birds in order to conserve wild birds and fauna, preserve public health or safety and prevent serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock and crops.