05 January 2022

Defra publishes 2022 General Licences for bird control

Defra has published updated General Licences for wild bird control in England, effective from 1 January 2022 until 31 December 2023.


The licences published are:

The new licences have been issued for two years rather than one, with Defra saying this is to provide "stability and certainty" to general licence users.

If your circumstances are not covered by these general licences you must apply for:

The updated general licences are very similar to the 2021 licences with only very minor changes.

Livestock protection

One of those changes is the rule around controlling wild birds in order to protect game birds bred for shooting in England.

There has been debate over whether to define pheasants, partridges and grouse as livestock, and whether predators can be managed in order to protect them.

Defra has now released a new definition of "livestock" which includes these birds, to give explicit permission for the control of:

  • Carrion Crows
  • Jackdaws
  • Magpies
  • Rooks.

It reads:

"'Livestock' is as defined in section 27(1) of the 1981 [Wildlife and Countryside] Act. For the purpose of this licence, this expression also includes game birds kept in an enclosure or which are free roaming but remain significantly dependent on the provision of food, water or shelter by a keeper for their survival. This does not include supplementary feeding."

A Defra spokesperson said the change was made after gamekeepers asked for more clarity about whether game birds counted as livestock.


If you're a BPCA member with a technical question about bird licences, get in touch.

Devolved nations

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all have different licensing bodies and legislation. 

Find out the latest information on general licences in:

Northern Ireland - Daera issue amended interim general licences pending consultation

Scotland - VIDEO: Scotland Digital Forum - An update on gull licensing procedures

Wales - NRW confirm Welsh general licence extension until June 2022.

Source: Online

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