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Hi all, a little advice please. I have permission on land which is directly under a flight line but at neither end of it ( ie/ the birds are travelling high on the way from point A to B ) are these birds decoyable or are they hell bent on where they want to go? TIA

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If you don't have permission to shoot pigeons where they are landing or feeding you aren't protecting any crops and therefore aren't complying with the terms of the General Licence.

 

Shooting pigeons in these circumstances would be against the law. 

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ClemFandango has strong opinions. I don’t agree with his opinion in this matter. The pigeons on the flight line are either going to feed or have just fed and more than likely on a farmer’s crop. To me pigeons cause crop damage. Simples.

Shearwater, flight lining is the best of sport. Go and watch. There may be a point where the pigeons are low enough to shoot.

Edited by JDog
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If they have just fed you may be able to decoy a few with some lofted in a tree and if you can pull a broken branch a few yards into the field and put one or 2 decoys or a flapper on the branch. You may just be able to temp a few into range. Flightlining is considered by some to be the cream of the sport as it involves a careful reconnaissance to set up in the right spot.

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29 minutes ago, JDog said:

ClemFandango has strong opinions. I don’t agree with his opinion in this matter. The pigeons on the flight line are either going to feed or have just fed and more than likely on a farmer’s crop. To me pigeons cause crop damage. Simples.

Shearwater, flight lining is the best of sport. Go and watch. There may be a point where the pigeons are low enough to shoot.

It's not opinion though is it? It's clearly written in law. 

Does nobody on this site actually read the general licence? 

If you don't have permission from the landowner to shoot pigeons where they are causing damage you can't prove they are causing damage can you? 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/woodpigeons-licence-to-kill-or-take-them-to-prevent-serious-damage-to-crops-gl31

8. When this licence can a) Only as a last resort to prevent serious damage1

be used b) Before using the licence reasonable endeavours must have been
made to resolve the problem using the lawful methods identified in 
Annex 1 below (unless their use would be impractical, without effect 
or disproportionate in the circumstances) and any other lawful 
methods that may be appropriate in the circumstances. 
c) Reasonable endeavours must continue to be made to resolve the 
problem using such appropriate lawful methods alongside use of the 
licence. 
d) Only undertake lethal control of birds during the peak breeding 
season1
if lethal control at other times or use of other licensed 
methods (e.g. egg destruction) would not provide a satisfactory

solution.
e) Any person using this licence must be able to show, if asked by an 
officer of Natural England or the Police: 
(i) what type of crop any action under this licence is protecting;
(ii) what lawful methods have been, and are being, taken to 
prevent serious damage to such crops by woodpigeon or why 
the lawful methods have not been taken; 
(iii) what measures have been and are being taken to minimise 
losses due to other species and causes; and
(iv) why the threat of serious damage from woodpigeon is 
sufficiently serious to merit action under this licence.
Licence users are advised to keep a record or log of crop damage
and of efforts to address problems by legal methods.

 

If you don't have access to the land on which they are causing serious damage you cannot prove what you are doing is lawful. 

What will you say if challenged?

"I was just shooting these birds as they fly over because they must be doing some damage somewhere... I'm not sure what damage, or where because I don't have permission to access the land they are feeding on... Oh and I can't prove any damage because I'm not quite sure where they are going or coming from and even if I knew I am not allowed to access that land to prove it... I'm not even totally sure if they are actually damaging crops and if they are it is probably the case that the landowner where they are causing damage is already controlling them." 

Solid defence that. 

 

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1 hour ago, ClemFandango said:

It's not opinion though is it? It's clearly written in law. 

Does nobody on this site actually read the general licence? 

If you don't have permission from the landowner to shoot pigeons where they are causing damage you can't prove they are causing damage can you? 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/woodpigeons-licence-to-kill-or-take-them-to-prevent-serious-damage-to-crops-gl31

8. When this licence can a) Only as a last resort to prevent serious damage1

be used b) Before using the licence reasonable endeavours must have been
made to resolve the problem using the lawful methods identified in 
Annex 1 below (unless their use would be impractical, without effect 
or disproportionate in the circumstances) and any other lawful 
methods that may be appropriate in the circumstances. 
c) Reasonable endeavours must continue to be made to resolve the 
problem using such appropriate lawful methods alongside use of the 
licence. 
d) Only undertake lethal control of birds during the peak breeding 
season1
if lethal control at other times or use of other licensed 
methods (e.g. egg destruction) would not provide a satisfactory

solution.
e) Any person using this licence must be able to show, if asked by an 
officer of Natural England or the Police: 
(i) what type of crop any action under this licence is protecting;
(ii) what lawful methods have been, and are being, taken to 
prevent serious damage to such crops by woodpigeon or why 
the lawful methods have not been taken; 
(iii) what measures have been and are being taken to minimise 
losses due to other species and causes; and
(iv) why the threat of serious damage from woodpigeon is 
sufficiently serious to merit action under this licence.
Licence users are advised to keep a record or log of crop damage
and of efforts to address problems by legal methods.

 

If you don't have access to the land on which they are causing serious damage you cannot prove what you are doing is lawful. 

What will you say if challenged?

"I was just shooting these birds as they fly over because they must be doing some damage somewhere... I'm not sure what damage, or where because I don't have permission to access the land they are feeding on... Oh and I can't prove any damage because I'm not quite sure where they are going or coming from and even if I knew I am not allowed to access that land to prove it... I'm not even totally sure if they are actually damaging crops and if they are it is probably the case that the landowner where they are causing damage is already controlling them." 

Solid defence that. 

 

Or, I shoot for several local farms and the local pigeon population is decimating his crops. So I shoot pigeons in this whole area in order to attempt to reduce the local population and therefore their demand for food.

done and dusted. 

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9 minutes ago, southeastpete said:

Or, I shoot for several local farms and the local pigeon population is decimating his crops. So I shoot pigeons in this whole area in order to attempt to reduce the local population and therefore their demand for food.

done and dusted. 

Good for you. 

I think that's extremely tenuous, it's the same as saying pigeons on my mates farm in Suffolk are eating crops so I am shooting pigeons in Oxfordshire in the hope of reducing the UK population. 

Ultimately it is your decision and if you are confident that if you are challenged that argument would stand up then fine. 

Doesn't apply to the OP though who does not have permission to also shoot pigeons where they are damaging crops... If they are even damaging crops in the first place. 

If the op only has access to a flight line they cannot have undertaken measures to avoid the need for lethal control and they cannot prove damage is occuring. Therefore they cannot comply with the terms of GL31

 

 

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2 hours ago, scotslad said:

Surely us still be allowed to, as ur culling to prevent future damage.

 

If ur only shooting where there feeding to protect crops, niether roost shooting or shooting over stubbles would be legal as no crops to protect.

In those circumstances it would most likely be reasonable to shoot as you would most likely have access to the land that damage is reasonably expected to occur on. 

Unless I misinterpreted the original post he doesn't have access to the land pigeons are roosting on so cannot be protecting crops on adjacent land, nor does he have access to the land they are feeding on so cannot be protecting adjacent crops. 

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5 hours ago, Shearwater said:

Hi all, a little advice please. I have permission on land which is directly under a flight line but at neither end of it ( ie/ the birds are travelling high on the way from point A to B ) are these birds decoyable or are they hell bent on where they want to go? TIA

if you have crops they are flying over put your decoys out and they do come in nobody can deny they are attempting to damage those crops by the very fact they are attempting to feed unless someone can prove they dropped in to sunbathe you will be fine 

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2 hours ago, ClemFandango said:

Good for you. 

I think that's extremely tenuous, it's the same as saying pigeons on my mates farm in Suffolk are eating crops so I am shooting pigeons in Oxfordshire in the hope of reducing the UK population. 

Ultimately it is your decision and if you are confident that if you are challenged that argument would stand up then fine. 

Doesn't apply to the OP though who does not have permission to also shoot pigeons where they are damaging crops... If they are even damaging crops in the first place. 

If the op only has access to a flight line they cannot have undertaken measures to avoid the need for lethal control and they cannot prove damage is occuring. Therefore they cannot comply with the terms of GL31

 

 

To be honest, you kill any pigeon anywhere and odds are it will have the remains of a farmers crop in its crop. 

The general licence doesn’t say you have to have permission on the land a pigeon took off from or intends to land on. If there is cause to shoot pigeons on an area of land, then any pigeon on or over that land is fair game. 

Even if I was stood on my lawn, and I had no idea where a flight line started or ended, if I shoot them for the surrounding farmer then again, shooting them any where in the area of the thousands of acres a farm covers is still fulfilling that service. You wouldn’t have to prove the pigeon you shot did, was, would or could eat the farmers crops, they would have to prove it hadn’t or wouldn’t. And that’s impossible.

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OP - Until there is further guidance or a test case in truth no one knows for sure. People have strong opinions both ways but the only thing I know is that someone who is certain on this cannot be right. In a scenario where you are decoying and shoot a pigeon that is flighting over the permission A to B, if it has never caused damage on your permission on your beans and is full of wheat is that now against the law? How would this be policed? Conversely a scenario where you shoot pigeons in your back garden, knowing that they will no doubt be feeding on crops somewhere else, is this now legal under the general license? It is not defined and is not clear, we are all making judgement and interpretation upon it. I would read the license yourself and satisfy yourself whether or not you (not a man on the internet) believe it complies with the law. 

 

I’m sorry it is a pointless answer but the legislation is not definitive on this.

 

12 hours ago, Shearwater said:

Hi all, a little advice please. I have permission on land which is directly under a flight line but at neither end of it ( ie/ the birds are travelling high on the way from point A to B ) are these birds decoyable or are they hell bent on where they want to go? TIA

 

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15 minutes ago, WalkedUp said:

OP - Until there is further guidance or a test case in truth no one knows for sure. People have strong opinions both ways but the only thing I know is that someone who is certain on this cannot be right. In a scenario where you are decoying and shoot a pigeon that is flighting over the permission A to B, if it has never caused damage on your permission on your beans and is full of wheat is that now against the law? How would this be policed? Conversely a scenario where you shoot pigeons in your back garden, knowing that they will no doubt be feeding on crops somewhere else, is this now legal under the general license? It is not defined and is not clear, we are all making judgement and interpretation upon it. I would read the license yourself and satisfy yourself whether or not you (not a man on the internet) believe it complies with the law. 

 

I’m sorry it is a pointless answer but the legislation is not definitive on this.

 

 

The onus is on the shooter to prove "serious damage" If you do not have access to the land pigeons are feeding on how can you prove when questioned that they are causing damage. 

Opening the crop and finding beans or wheat does not prove damage nor does it prove serious damage. You cannot say that the food in their crop was even from crop that was in the ground - it may have been spilt during harvest.

the GL defines "Serious Damage" as 

“Serious damage” is damage to an economic or financial interest that exceeds mere nuisance, minor damage or normal business risk."

a crop full of wheat from a few pigeons does not constitute serious risk, especially if you can't even tell where they have been feeding. 

The GL also requires the shooter to be able to prove they have taken reasonable lawful methods to prevent damage. Annex 1 of the licence details what these methods are. 

You cannot, when challenged prove that you have attempted to deter pigeons from feeding on crops if you have no access to those crops. 

 

I'm not sure I have a strong opinion either way. The original challenge to the GL came from people taking the **** and people continue to do so. I am pro shooting and am able to pick holes in an argument to shoot pigeons fairly easily... How will you get on justifying your actions to someone who is anti-shooting?

Remember this is a public forum and Wild Justice used quotes from here as part of their argument for the Judicial Review. 

Exercise restraint and read the law is all I am trying to impress on people...

There was a thread on here where someone was trying to argue that it is legal to use lead shot over wetlands in Scotland... Totally the opposite of the law. 16 years after the law was passed. That sort of rank ignorance will ruin shooting for everyone. 

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7 hours ago, southeastpete said:

To be honest, you kill any pigeon anywhere and odds are it will have the remains of a farmers crop in its crop. 

The general licence doesn’t say you have to have permission on the land a pigeon took off from or intends to land on. If there is cause to shoot pigeons on an area of land, then any pigeon on or over that land is fair game. 

Even if I was stood on my lawn, and I had no idea where a flight line started or ended, if I shoot them for the surrounding farmer then again, shooting them any where in the area of the thousands of acres a farm covers is still fulfilling that service. You wouldn’t have to prove the pigeon you shot did, was, would or could eat the farmers crops, they would have to prove it hadn’t or wouldn’t. And that’s impossible.

In the wording of the GL it clearly states that you do have to provide proof of Serious Damage. 

"Relevant evidence will include examples of actual losses in the
present year or in recent years"

Again. 

If the OP does not have access to the land the pigeons are feeding on and has to make a serious effort as they have asked in their first post to pull them in as they are going somewhere else he CANNOT provide evidence of actual losses. 

Nor can he provide evidence that preventative measures have been taken. 

The GL doesn't just say "damage" it says "serious damage."  

It goes to the lengths of defining what serious damage means and it describes what methods you must have had in place to reduce such damage. 

Admittedly it doesn't say that you have to cull where the damage is happening but I still think that if you were challenged shooting pigeons in your back garden a mile away from the farm you were protecting crops on you would have no defence when challenged on either of these issues. You cannot prove what crop the birds you are shooting are feeding on and therefore you cannot prove that the damage is serious nor can you prove you have tried to deter them. 

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15 hours ago, Rob85 said:

If they have just fed you may be able to decoy a few with some lofted in a tree and if you can pull a broken branch a few yards into the field and put one or 2 decoys or a flapper on the branch. You may just be able to temp a few into range. Flightlining is considered by some to be the cream of the sport as it involves a careful reconnaissance to set up in the right spot.

That's what I had in mind as they are too high for me or should I say pretty confident I'd miss them, I think I started a good debate on the legalities tho

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So if I shoot a pigeon and it as an empty crop that must be illegal as I ain’t causing damage and Shooting over stubble is to prevent serious damage to other crops it does not say other crops on the bit of land you have permission on so is that illegal if your perm As no crops left to harvest????

Edited by Jacko3275
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The problem with pigeon shooting is that they are on general licence at all, you can go into any ground and take rabbits with no bother at any time of the year For the pot or because they eat grass yet with pigeons you cannot unless you fulfil a load of useless criteria that is open to interpretation.

If people can go out to a restaurant and order a woodpigeon salad then why should there be a law against shooting a pigeon for the pot on land you are allowed on? I really don't see there being enough people shooting to shoot them to extinction 

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ClemFandango appears to have appointed himself the Pigeon Watch interpreter of the General Licence.

I doubt that he is a Queens Counsel, Solicitor, Lawyer or anything quasi legal or have any real understanding of the Law. He may speak for some but I doubt that is very many on this Forum. He certainly does not speak for me and my own interpretation of the general Licence is different from his.

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2 hours ago, Jacko3275 said:

So if I shoot a pigeon and it as an empty crop that must be illegal as I ain’t causing damage and Shooting over stubble is to prevent serious damage to other crops it does not say other crops on the bit of land you have permission on so is that illegal if your perm As no crops left to harvest????

Can you reword that? I'm not sure I understand. 

The General Licence requires the shooter to prove that the pigeons they are shooting are causing serious damage and that they have taken adequate steps to avoid the need for lethal control. 

If you can't/haven't done those things you are breaking the law. 

2 hours ago, Rob85 said:

The problem with pigeon shooting is that they are on general licence at all, you can go into any ground and take rabbits with no bother at any time of the year For the pot or because they eat grass yet with pigeons you cannot unless you fulfil a load of useless criteria that is open to interpretation.

If people can go out to a restaurant and order a woodpigeon salad then why should there be a law against shooting a pigeon for the pot on land you are allowed on? I really don't see there being enough people shooting to shoot them to extinction 

I totally agree. 

The General Licence always was ridiculous which is why nobody, or at least very few actually followed the conditions for all the species covered. That is why they were challenged and why we came under and remain under scrutiny.

It doesn't matter whether you or I agree with them or not though. They're all we have at the moment.

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51 minutes ago, JDog said:

ClemFandango appears to have appointed himself the Pigeon Watch interpreter of the General Licence.

I doubt that he is a Queens Counsel, Solicitor, Lawyer or anything quasi legal or have any real understanding of the Law. He may speak for some but I doubt that is very many on this Forum. He certainly does not speak for me and my own interpretation of the general Licence is different from his.

Doesn't really matter what I am, what I may or may not have appointed myself or what your or my interpretation of the law is. 

You clearly have no understanding of the law and yet you are free to comment on here as am I. 

What matters is how the people that scrutinise our activity view our compliance or otherwise with the law and how they then act on that scrutiny. 

I suppose only time will tell. 

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If I have fields to shoot over And they are all stubble can I legal shoot them

11 minutes ago, ClemFandango said:

Can you reword that? I'm not sure I understand. 

The General Licence requires the shooter to prove that the pigeons they are shooting are causing serious damage and that they have taken adequate steps to avoid the need for lethal control. 

If you can't/haven't done those things you are breaking the law. 

I totally agree. 

The General Licence always was ridiculous which is why nobody, or at least very few actually followed the conditions for all the species covered. That is why they were challenged and why we came under and remain under scrutiny.

It doesn't matter whether you or I agree with them or not though. They're all we have at the moment.

 

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23 minutes ago, Jacko3275 said:

If I have fields to shoot over And they are all stubble can I legal shoot them

 

If all of the fields you have access to are stubble then you aren't preventing any serious damage are you? 

You can't be responsible for crops not controlled by either you as a landowner or managed by a landowner who has not engaged you. 

13 minutes ago, clangerman said:

if there was anything to worry about someone would have been prosecuted by now the chance of anyone actually coming out to see what i’m doing is probably same as a lottery win and i don’t buy a ticket lol

Likelihood of getting caught is no reason to ignore the law. Complacency like that is what prompted the initial judicial review. 

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But are you not allowed to prevent for

2 minutes ago, ClemFandango said:

If all of the fields you have access to are stubble then you aren't preventing any serious damage are you? 

You can't be responsible for crops not controlled by either you as a landowner or managed by a landowner who has not engaged you. 

future Crops if said fields had been attacked and caused serious damage throughout the year before they where harvested ..... the OP never stated what bird were flying over either 

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