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21 June 2022

New Welsh general licences for bird control now available


Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has today (21 June) published four new general licences for the control of wild birds, ahead of them coming into force on 1 July 2022.

This follows the completion of NRW’s review of its approach to licensing.


The current versions of the four licences (GL001, GL002, GL004 and GL005) are valid until 30 June and will remain accessible on the website until then.

All the other general licences which were granted by NRW on 1 January 2022 are unchanged.  

An NRW spokesperson said:

"Thank you to those who scrutinised the preview versions of the four new licences, which we first made available on 28 April, and who subsequently provided feedback to improve the clarity and wording of their terms and conditions.

"We have considered all the comments we received and as a result have made a small number of refinements to the technical detail of the licences..." 

What's new?

The main changes made to the preview versions of the licences are: 

  • The condition restricting use of the general licences to persons over 18 years old has been removed. There is no specific age restriction on general licence users.
  • The condition requiring birds which have been injured by licenced action to be pursued and humanely dispatched, has been amended to require the licensee to make reasonable endeavours to do so. This recognises that in some cases the safe and lawful pursuit of an injured bird may be impossible, for example due to the nature of the environment, physical obstacles or land ownership.
  • The condition requiring firearms to be used only within their effective range has been removed and an advisory note to that effect has been included. The licences continue to include a condition requiring birds to be quickly and humanely dispatched.
  • The condition requiring trap users to report incidental capture of non-target species has been amended so it applies only to European protected species of animals, and birds of prey. This is to avoid the necessity of reporting capture and release of common non-target species.
  • The condition requiring licence users to have the permission of the owner/occupier of the land has been removed, to avoid duplication with the definition of ‘authorised persons’ entitled to rely on the licence.
  • In GL001 and GL004, the condition requiring decoy birds to be of the same species as the target species has been modified to state that, in GL001, only carrion crow, magpie or jackdaw may be used as live decoys, and in GL004 only carrion crow may be used.
  • The condition requiring live decoy birds to be provided with food and water at all times while held captive has been modified to apply only while the decoy is in the trap.

NRW explained, "A number of the changes suggested we were not able to incorporate, particularly those which would entail significant changes to the scope and terms of the licences where this would entail revisiting substantive decisions that have already been made as part of our review, which included a public consultation on our proposals carried out last year."

Key documents relating to the review of General Licences are still available on Wild Bird Review consultation page (you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page to view the documents) and will continue to be so till the end of the year: 

The licences are issued in HTML format but the option is available to print as hardcopies or to a PDF format which can be downloaded and saved onto a device.

Please note however that the licences include a number of web links which may not work properly from PDF versions. 


If you're a BPCA member and you need advice on navigating the licensing system, whether in Wales, England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, get in touch with our technical team.

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