An upsetting subject and one that is pretty shocking when you look
into it, are the licences granted to kill some of our rare native
The current law states that Natural England and Scottish Natural
Heritage are allowed to grant licences to kill a range of species for
a variety of reasons such as public safety, for example where
there is a risk of plane strikes, guarding crops and protecting
Of course, there is no doubt there are legitimate reasons to remove
some species at times, but what I find so appalling
and incomprehensible are some of the
allowable circumstances. Reasons such as culling buzzards to
protect game birds for shooting. Another example, a licence was
grated to kill Skylarks for no apparent reason. During the
research of this article, it is terrifying the amount of species
that licences were grated for including barn owls, black birds,
robins, swifts, golden plover, grey partridge… and the list goes on,
covering a shocking 34 species in total.
Back to the buzzard – this is a species whose numbers were
devastated by past persecution in the UK and is thankfully
now making a comeback. Culling a native species to protect
an alien species so we can shoot it makes no sense to
me whatsoever. Also a question I ponder is what effects do these
pheasants (35 million that are released into the countryside annually)
have on our wildlife? For some predators it may be positive for
others not so, with this increase potentially upsetting nature’s
balance by increasing some predator numbers, which in turn may
reduce the number of prey species.
I have digressed slightly but these subjects are definitely interlinked. We
know that licences are granted to cull some birds of prey in order
to protect game birds and some are illegally killed for the same
reason. We also know huge areas of land are managed for pheasant
shooting which benefits some species but we simply don’t know
how much this benefits our wild life or how negative an impact it has
on the whole.
What we do know is everything we do as a species has a knock-on
effect on our wildlife. We need to remember that because we are
the dominant species on the planet this means we have a massive
responsibility to care for it and to do this may mean we can’t
always have or do everything we want. What I am saying is that just
because we can do something may not mean we should and there is
a consequence to every action.
The culling of any species of bird should be looked at carefully and
all other possibilities investigated before licences are granted. Can
we ever justify culling a native species to protect an alien? And is
it really ok to cull a species because it poops on your
lawn, rips open you bin bag or steals your chips?
Maybe its time we looked at how we treat our wildlife and stop
putting our wants before the needs of wildlife.