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Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust calls for change to gull licensing system

20th August 2020

During April and May, 183 gamekeepers, shepherds and shoot managers reported witnessing incidents of gull predation on nests and chicks of three wader species, two of which (lapwing and curlew) are ‘red-listed’ as species of the highest conservation concern. In part, it is the abundance of these precious birds that has led to areas of uplands being designated and protected.

This observation came following concerns about the new licensing regime for gull control announced by Natural England in January 2020, a system hampered with complication and one which ultimately led to a total of 56 grouse moor estates undertaking their own monitoring. Not one single licence to control gulls in 2020 was issued in time to protect the vulnerable ground nesting birds’ chicks.

The Game & Wildlife Trust has analysed the data and is now urging Defra and Natural England to consider this evidence when assessing the impact of changes to licenses for the control of gulls on threatened wading birds, including curlew and lapwing in 2021.

Overall, 1,355 incidents of gulls predating lapwing, curlew and golden plover were recorded, which included:

  • 93% of participating estates reporting incidents of lapwing nests/chicks being predated by gulls
  • 95% reporting gull predation of curlew nests or chicks
  • 73% of estates witnessing nests/chicks of golden plover being predated by gulls

The abundance of predatory gulls seen hunting over the moors calls into question the reliability and interpretation of the data on which Natural England has relied to impose restrictive new measures at the expense of the very wildlife these sites are supposed to protect.

You can read the full article here: https://www.gwct.org.uk/news/news/2020/august/gull-licensing-system-requires-a-change-of-approach,-says-conservation-charity/

 

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Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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