The Shooting Times and the general licences

Some time ago we told our newsletter subscribers, and wrote a blog (see here), about an article in the Shooting Times where a regular columnist of theirs wrote an account of going out to shoot 10 species in a day, actually on the 30 January this year, which was published in the Shooting Times on 10 February.

We regarded the behaviour described as a potential breach of the terms of the current general licences in operation in England, and in particular the need, articulated by Justice Jarman, that there is a present danger that the killing is seeking to avert. Wild Justice compiled a legal dossier and sent it to DEFRA along with a biological document which pointed out that Yellow Wagtails and Nightingales are not present in the UK in January and so were not suffering any present danger at all.

We reported this matter to DEFRA, as the Secretary of State has the power to act on such matters. We are still waiting for the result of DEFRA’s cogitations.

Wild Justice suggested to DEFRA that they might want to forward our dossier to the police but DEFRA requested that we did so, and we did.

The police took the case extremely seriously and we are grateful to them for that. The Essex Police have now informed 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.

The 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 (see here).