Natural England issues licence to kill Buzzards to protect pheasants

Natural England has issued a licence for someone to kill up to ten Buzzards “to prevent serious damage to young pheasants”.


Here is their statement:

29 July 2016

Natural England issued a licence last night permitting the control of up to 10 Buzzards to prevent serious damage to young pheasants.

The licence is time-limited with stringent conditions and is based on the law, policy and best available evidence. It follows rigorous assessment after other methods had been tried unsuccessfully over a 5-year period.

It is stipulated that the licence must be used in combination with non-lethal measures and only on Buzzards in and immediately around the animal pens – not on passing birds. These conditions are designed to make the licensed activity both proportionate and effective and we will continue to work with the applicant to assess this.

Killing wild birds without a licence from Natural England is illegal.



We’ve been here before (in 2012, see here) when Natural England/DEFRA proposed a ‘trial’ to ‘control’ Buzzards to protect pheasants but then Natural England/DEFRA did a u-turn after a huge public outcry (see here).

We’ve also been here before in 2013 (see here) when Natural England/DEFRA issued a licence to destroy Buzzard eggs and nests to protect pheasants.

We’ve also been here before in 2014 (see here) when Natural England/DEFRA refused to issue a licence to kill Buzzards to protect pheasants.

This time, Natural England/DEFRA have decided to issue a licence to kill Buzzards, presumably based on the findings of last year’s Judicial Review which ruled that Natural England’s/DEFRA’s decision to refuse a Buzzard-killing licence the previous year was unlawful (see here).

Natural England’s statement about this year’s Buzzard-killing licence lacks transparency and detail. We assume (but it is only an assumption at this stage) that this licence has been issued to the same gamekeeper in Northumberland who has been applying for licences since 2012, with the support of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation (see links above). We, and probably others, will be pressing Natural England for more detail in the coming days.

In the meantime, we urge you to voice your opposition by emailing Natural England and DEFRA (because Natural England is operating under guidance from DEFRA).

We know, according to 2011 figures, that over 50 MILLION non-native gamebirds (pheasants, red-legged partridge) are released into the countryside EVERY YEAR, so that those in the game-shooting industry can shoot them for fun. We also know that the Buzzard is a native, protected species, still recovering (in some areas) from decades of illegal persecution. We also know that the game-shooting industry relies on criminality (the illegal killing of raptors) in order to provide for excessively large numbers of gamebirds to be shot. For fun.

Emails to Natural England:

Emails to Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Environment:


Raptor Persecution UK
3 August 2016







Listen to our free fortnightly podcast now



Latest articles


Hen Harrier 'Fingal' disappears in suspicious circumstances

Another satellite-tagged hen harrier has disappeared, the fourth to vanish on a Scottish grouse moor since the beginning of April. More here >


Another Hen Harrier disappears on a Yorkshire grouse moor

This latest bird is the 44th harrier to go 'missing' or to be confirmed killed since 2018 and has led to renewed calls for licensing of grouse shooting. More here >