Pests news from BPCA

05 March 2020

Scotland: three new general licences announced

Following a review of the general licensing system, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has released three new general licences for bird control, to come into force from 1 April 2020.

782 snh new general licences

What's changed? 

From 1 April 2020 there are three main changes to the Scottish general licensing system:

  1. There are 15 changes to the species lists
  2. Greater transparency introduced around the use of traps, which requires individual users to register with SNH
  3. The use of GL's over a number of designated sites in Scotland will be subject to additional specific conditions.


The following changes have been made to the species list:

GL 01 GL 02 GL 03
To kill or take certain birds for 
the conservation of wild birds

To kill or take certain birds for 
the prevention of serious damage 
to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock,
crops, vegetables and fruit
To kill or take certain birds for 
the preservation of public health,
public safety and preventing the
spread of disease

Species Status Species Status Species Status
Magpie Retain Feral pigeon Retain Feral pigeon Retain
Carrion crow Retain Collared dove Removed Woodpigeon Removed
Jackdaw Retain Great black-backed gull Removed Lesser black-backed gull Removed
Great black-backed gull Removed Resident Greylag goose Extend control period Great black-backed gull Removed
Hooded crow Retain Hooded crow Retain Herring gull Removed
Canada goose Retain Canada goose Retain Carrion crow Removed
Ruddy duck Retain Carrion crow Retain Collared dove  Removed
Rook Removed Woodpigeon Retain Canada goose Retain
Jay Retain Rook Retain Jackdaw Removed
  Magpie Retain Magpie Removed
Jackdaw Retain Rook Removed
  Hooded crow Removed

What if the species I want to control is no longer listed?

If the species you want to control is no longer listed on the relevant general licence, then you will need to apply for a specific licence to do so. 

You can find all the information you need and the application forms for these licences on the SNH website.

Trap transparency

From 1 April 2020 anyone using the following traps will need to be registered with SNH:

  • Larsen traps
  • Larsen mate traps
  • Larsen pod traps
  • Multi-catch cage crow traps.

If you have previously registered with Police Scotland you will still need to register with SNH. 

Police Scotland trap numbers will no longer be valid after 1 April 2021 but you should still register with SNH as soon as possible.

Registrations are also now issued to people rather than properties, to avoid questions around who is responsible for the traps.

Trap registration lasts for 5 years and you can register by visiting

SNH commented on the general licence changes, saying:

"The licences need to balance species conservation with the wide range of other legitimate activities, interests and concerns from land-management to public health and safety.

"In the autumn of 2019 we held a consultation seeking views on the application of General Licences. This, combined with our commissioned report and expert ornithological advice, has been used in order to inform the changes we feel are necessary for the 2020 general licences."


BPCA members get free technical advice from our team. Get in touch.

Source: Nature Scot press release

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