Whilst the bird licensing changes are still in progress, the NFU is reminding farmers in the South West to make sure they stay on the right side of the law.

If urgent bird control action is required, farmers are being advised to seek legal advice before going ahead. If bird scarers are used, the NFU advises farmers to make sure they follow the code of conduct issued by the organisation.

Bird scarers and deterrents are an essential tool at this time but if used thoughtlessly they can seriously disturb the public.

By adhering to the guide farmers can reduce complaints of nuisance and avoid any enforcement action by local councils.

David George, regional communications adviser for the NFU in the South West said: “For years farmers have relied on the three general licences to control various bird pests and protect livestock and crops, and the NFU has significant concerns about their abrupt withdrawal.

“We are putting every pressure on Natural England to make sure the situation is rectified as soon as possible. A replacement general licence for the control of carrion crows to prevent serious damage to livestock has already been issued, and we hope licences covering other species and circumstances will be made available shortly.

“It is incredibly disappointing that farmers and growers find themselves in this position.”

Some simple steps to help make scarers more effective and to limit any disturbance include:

  • Thinking about location – place guns as far away as practicable from neighbours, point them away from neighbours and use baffles.
  • Thinking about timing – avoid using them before 7am or after 10pm. As a general rule never use before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Avoiding use on Sundays.
  • Checking timers work and are set correctly. If using a photoelectric cell check that it is clean and preferably have a mechanical timer as well as a backup.
  • Ensuring that your neighbours know who to contact if the gun develops a fault so that it can be put right.

Download bird scarers code of practise

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