The National Sheep Association (NSA) has made additional information available to its members in light of the recent news from Natural England that licences have been granted to control raven numbers in five counties.

Mechanisms to apply for a licence exist in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but recent steps by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage to actually grant permissions have been welcomed by NSA and, it says, reflects the growing need to control populations in areas where numbers have boomed to unmanageable levels.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “It is positive that raven numbers have increased to such a level that we’re now talking about having to control them in certain situations. No one wants to see this species endangered – but options must be provided to manage the impact of a population boom on other species of domestic and wild animal.

“NSA is pleased to see Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage use the mechanisms that have long been in place to issue licences where all other preventative tactics to reduce predation of ravens on livestock have failed. The information we have put together for our members on this topic emphasises the position in all UK nations that farmers must first encourage ravens away from livestock using non-lethal tactics. Where this is not deemed sufficient to protect animals, a licence can be applied for to kill a limited number of birds to aid scaring and encourage others ravens away from the area.”

The NSA guidance for its members outlines the different Government agencies across the UK that work in this area, what deterrents should be used on farms, what information should be recording to monitor the success of deterrents, and how licence applications can be submitted.

Mr Stocker continues: “NSA members who suffer high losses from ravens, particularly at lambing time, share troubling stories of the damage these birds can cause. They peck out eyes and tongues of baby lambs and adult ewes, rending them blind and unable to eat. It is important for farmers who have respected the protection order on these birds to be able to apply for licences where the situation cannot be controlled in any other way.”

NSA members can access the guidance in the members-only area of the association’s website, or by contacting NSA Head Office on 01684 892661 or enquiries@nationalsheep.org.uk.

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