All wild birds, their nests and their eggs are protected under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly:

  • Kill, injure or take any wild bird;
  • Take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst that nest is in use or being built. The nests of Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle or Osprey are protected throughout the year;
  • Take or destroy an egg of any wild bird;
  • Possess any live or dead wild bird or the egg of any wild bird, or any part of a live or dead bird.

Additional protection is given to the rare birds listed in the Act where it is an offence intentionally or recklessly to:

  • Disturb a Schedule 1 bird while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or
  • Disturb dependent young of a Schedule 1 bird

There are several exceptions to the offences created by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, including acting under a licence.

General licensing and specific licensing

We can grant licences for specific purposes, so that you can undertake the relevant activity without breaking the law. We recommend that you check whether your situation is covered by a general licence before applying. If your situation is not covered by a general licence, consider the purpose of your licensing activities and complete the relevant application form.

For applications to control wild birds, you must provide detailed evidence of the problem that is occurring, or is likely to occur, which requires action to be taken. Where possible, photographic and video evidence should be provided. If you are unable to provide photographic or video evidence, you will need to provide a reason why.

Scientific, research or educational purposes

If you need a licence for scientific, research or educational purposes, you will need to complete one of these application forms.

New application form
Renewal application form
Amendment request form
Reference template

Ringing or marking

If you are ringing or marking birds, examining rings or marks, there are two options here:

If you need a licence to ring or mark wild birds you will need to contact the British Trust for Ornithology.

For all other ringing or marking projects:

New application form
Reference template
Amendment request form

Bird control

We grant licences to control wild birds for purposes listed in section 16 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). These licenses are for:

  • Conserving wild birds
  • Protecting any collection of wild birds
  • Preserving public health, public safety, air safety
  • Preventing spread of disease
  • Preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters - unless you wish to control fish-eating birds.
  • Conserving flora and fauna

If you wish to apply for a licence to control wild birds, you will need to complete one of these application forms:

New application form (online form)
New application form (Word document form)

Amendment request form (Word document form)

Repopulating or reintroducing wild birds

If you are re-populating or re-introducing wild birds, including any breeding necessary you will need to contact us for advice

Falconry and aviculture

If you wish to apply for a licence for the purpose of falconry and aviculture, please contact us for advice

Public exhibition or competition

Any situation that is not covered by a general licence, please contact us for advice

Taxidermy 

Please refer to the possession and sale of protected species

If your situation is not covered please contact us for advice

Photography

If you wish to apply for a licence to disturb Schedule 1 birds at or near the nest for the purpose of photography, you will need to complete one of these application forms:

New application form
Renewal application form
Amendment request form

Fisheries and fish-eating birds

To apply for a licence to control fish-eating birds, to prevent serious damage to fisheries, you need to complete our fish-eating birds licence application form.

Prior to making your application, you will need to collect data on the frequency of fish predation, and the number of birds involved. 

For small still waters (under 20 hectares), please collect the supporting data using the bird observation log for small still waters. The data will need to be collected between November and February each year and must consist of 10 or more site visits dated at least three days apart.

For rivers and large still waters (over 20 hectares), please collect the supporting data using the bird observation log for riverine and large still waters.

Guidance

We have published guidance to help you on the following topics:

End of licence report forms

It is a condition of all licences issued by us that you complete an end of licence report form within four weeks after the licence expiry date.

Bird control - end of licence report form – report form for licences to control wild birds for the purpose of conserving wild birds, conserving flora and fauna, protecting any collection of wild birds, preserving public health/safety or air safety, preventing spread of disease or preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters

Fish-eating birds – end of licence report form – report form for licences to control fish-eating birds.

Birds: report form – report form for licences issued for scientific, research or educational purposes, or for ringing or marking wild birds or for the purpose of photography;

British Trust for Ornithology Nest Record Scheme – please submit your records to the British Trust for Ornithology.

Review of our approach to the shooting and trapping of wild birds

We are reviewing our approach to the permissions we give for the shooting and trapping of wild birds in Wales. This review includes general and specific licences.

Further advice

For further information and advice you can contact us by email, or phone us on 0300 065 3000.

Last updated