Government rules out restriction to non-lethal grey squirrel control

Consultation on the draft code of practice for species control provisions in England has been published.

The consultation asked for comments on the draft code of practice.

The majority of the 39 respondees, which included Japanese Knotweed Solutions and the NFU, generally supported the draft code of practice but a number of specific comments were made including:

More detail on how these provisions will be applied

More clarity on who pays for the operations

Greater emphasis on dialogue between the environmental authority and the owner before agreements and orders are made

Remove the non-exhaustive lists of species which is confusing

More consistency in terminology between the legislation and the code

Landowners should be able to request a review or appeal against a decision on compensation. The majority of the responses received from individuals were opposed in principle to the use of any powers that might result in the eradication of any animals.

There was specific concern expressed that these provisions would be used to cull grey squirrel and other former native species. A number of these responses from individuals requested that if control operations were considered necessary that the code should state that only humane, non-lethal methods should be employed; there was specific opposition to the use of warfarin or snare traps.

In response to the consultation, the following substantive changes to the code of practice have been made:

Greater detail has been provided including the insertion of an overview section and case examples.

The code has been redrafted to provide more consistency in terminology between the legislation and the code.

More emphasis on environmental authorities continuing to pursue the informal, nonstatutory approach to gaining access.

More focus on dialogue between the environmental authority and the owner before agreements are made.

More clarity on who pays for the operations.

New provision to allow landowners to request a review of a decision on compensation payments.

Removal of the non-exhaustive lists of species in scope of the provisions.

The government has considered the responses requesting that these powers should be restricted to non-lethal methods only, but does not support this position. The government’s policy for wildlife management recognises that, where there are no effective alternatives, it may be necessary to use lethal methods of control. The code has been revised to emphasise that all operations must be carried out in accordance with best practice to make sure that pain, distress or suffering to the animal is avoided or minimised. The code also now contains an obligation on environmental authorities, where they are not carrying out the operations themselves, to advise the owner or party carrying out the operations on the most appropriate method in light of these requirements.


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