Near the end of May we sent out newsletter 62 which decribed what we believed was a breach of the general licences (we also published an account on our blog). The events which we reported to DEFRA were published in the Shooting Times on 10 February in an article which purported to describe a day’s shooting where a regular columnist describes going out into the countryside in late January to see how many species of mammal and bird he could shoot. He was delighted to shoot 10 species in the day including a Carrion Crow and a Jay (see image above from the article). Those species are only lawfully killed under certain circumstances and with certain conditions. We believed that the shooting of those two birds was potentially unlawful. Today we can provide an update on that matter in this newsletter and on our blog (see here).
At DEFRA’s request, we sent the legal and biological dossiers that we had sent to them to Essex Police who investigated. Essex Police have recently told us that they cannot take the case any further as the Shooting Times columnist denies having shot either a Jay or a Carrion Crow despite having described the shots that led to the deaths of these two birds in some detail in his published article.
Essex Police tell us that ‘With regards to the Carrion Crow and Jay he has stated that, he did not shoot these birds on this day and has a number of frozen/prop birds that he uses in his articles, if he needs to and bases the events on previous incidents or other incidents which have similarities.‘.
So, assuming, as we will, that this statement is true, the article was not true. If it had been true then perhaps the court would have been asked to rule on the legality of the action – an action that we would state is unlawful (but since it did not happen in this particular case that is the end of this matter).
We intend to ask DEFRA for their view on these matters in general, in case such circumstances arise in future. We have also written to the Shooting Times stating that we regard their publication of a false and misleading article as a breach of the IPSO Editors’ Code and seeking a retraction and clarification (see here).
We are grateful to Essex Police for their investigation of this matter.
Wild Justice has maintained since we first sprang into action in 2019, that much of the killing of birds under the different general licences which exist in the four UK nations amounts to casual killing, too much of which is unlawful. We have made progress in tightening up the general licences, getting some species removed from them, and highlighting the issues that they raise. The article in Shooting Times, now admitted to be false by its author, is a further example of how some shooters appear to believe that the laws work. There is more work to be done by Wild Justice in making sure that the general licences in place fully reflect the requirements of the law. In that regard, we see that DAERA in Northern Ireland yesterday issued a consultation on their general licences. Wild Justice has been in correspondence with the Northern Ireland authorities about their general licences, which we regard as shockingly bad and unlawful, and that may well be why this consultation is now taking place. We will update you on Northern Ireland general licences next week.
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That’s it for now – have a good weekend.
Wild Justice (Directors: Mark Avery, Chris Packham and Ruth Tingay)
Cryptozoologist, naturalist, musician, singer, composer, poet, novelist and Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology since 1992. Jon was born in Portsmouth in 1959 and spent his infancy in Nigeria and his childhood in Hong Kong. His wife Corinna died of cancer in 2020, leaving him with two stepdaughters and a six year old granddaughter called Evelyn.