Bowland Gull Cull 8 – smidgeons of information from NE

In response to this:


Sent: 06 February 2018 07:39
To: FOI (NE) <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Bowland gull cull

Nearly three months ago you told me that the NE investigation into the Bowland Gull Cull was moving to its final stages and that I would be informed of its outcome. I have not heard from NE since on this matter. Please respond within one week to the original questions.

In addition, what plans does NE have for 2018 to issue licences for any culls of any gulls in the Forest of Bowland area?


I have just received this:


Dear Dr Avery

Thank you for your email.


I have been in contact with the Area Team and they have confirmed that whilst the information gathering process is complete the investigation remains ongoing and Natural England has not made a decision on its next steps.

Plans to issue licenses for the culling of gulls in 2018

Natural England interprets “plans” to refer to any requests for individual licences for lethal gull control in the Forest of Bowland area.  We interpret “cull” to refer to any form of lethal control in the context the question has been raised.  We currently have one application in the Forest of Bowland area requesting lethal control of herring and great black backed gulls in 2018.  We have not yet determined this licence request. The timing of the decision for this licence application has been deferred until the end of March 2018.

Lesser black-backed gull are a bird listed on the General Licence.  Landowners or managers possessing a General Licence must comply with the terms of this Licence and must also have consent from Natural England to carry out lethal control of this species where it is a feature on a protected site.

I hope the above is useful.



Well, it’s more interesting than useful.  But it was quite quick – maybe this morning’s blog post which mentioned it helped shake out this information (but maybe it’s simply a coincidence).

Of course the Bowland Fells SPA qualified under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus.  But back then, it qualified for its Hen Harrier numbers too.

Someone wants to cull Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls – I see.






11 Replies to “Bowland Gull Cull 8 – smidgeons of information from NE”

  1. Is it too cynical to expect 1. the granting of the new licence well before any findings relating to the last cull are made public 2. Some “operational difficulties” in correctly ID-ing the birds that end up getting shot (these gulls are all much the same, really, aren’t they?)?
    What a sad reflection that NE has to be watched and harried (ahem) in this way. But thank you for doing it.

  2. Well, they have been able to Cull the Harriers, so they will probably get to cull the Gulls as well.

  3. again – I remind you that LBBGs from these colonies are proven to ‘winter’ in The Gambia on the strength of colour ring reading efforts – poor show Great Britain that you cull our migrants ..

  4. If the gulls are a classified species of the SPA then they must have a minimum target population ? What is this and how can they ensure that it can be maintained by the general licence?

    1. I suspect that whatever the figure is the shooters will try to reduce the number below that, so it is no longer considered important and they can just get on with killing the lot.

  5. Herring Gull is of course Red-listed so it will be interesting to see what happens to that particular application.

  6. From Wanless S. & Langslow D.R. (1983) The effects of culling on the Abbeystead and Mallowdale gullery. Bird Study, 30, 17-23

    This study investigated the effects of repeated culls of lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus and herring gulls Larus argentatus on the size and extent of this moorland breeding colony.

    The number of gulls recovered dead after culling was 21,258 in 1978, 12,573 in 1979, 6,338 in 1980 and 5,397 in 1982. Allowing for an estimated 10% more gulls dying unrecorded, the proportion of the breeding population killed each year was estimated to be 47% in 1978, 27% in 1979 and 31% in both 1980 and 1982. The proportion of birds recruited to the breeding population each year was very variable, with substantially more birds than expected recruited in certain years. Nevertheless, between 1978 and 1982, the estimated breeding population fell from 49,480 to 18,960 individuals. Although the extent of the main colony remained largely unchanged (at c.6 km²) throughout the study period, the average density of nests decreased from 0.42 per 100 m² in 1979 to 0.16 per 100 m² in 1982.

    1. To think they have been killing birds in this colony, actually now two colonies since the early seventies, largely without any justification other than they probably take grouse chicks.

  7. Interesting and appalling, as I understand it the local team have always been in awe of the Westminster estate along with all the other forelock tuggers. bowing and scraping at the very name. Even when I worked in Bowland , nearly 30 years ago, there were no longer any Great black-backs left in the colony and unless things have changed radically there are none now and there were relatively few Herring Gulls. I have been shown in the past shot gulls by keepers all over the Pennines and asked to identify them, they were all thought by the keepers to be great black backs and were invariably lesser. Make of that what you will. One thing however is quite clear both locally and nationally NE are certainly not fit for purpose. Well at least the purpose we think they should be for, what gov’t thinks may be as it seems different.

  8. In their response to you they sat that “The timing of the decision for this licence application has been deferred until the end of March 2018”.

    As we all know it is now April, so why not just disclose their decision to you? Delay, obscuration or do they just not know what day of the week it is. The later I suspect.

  9. What is needed in this country is land reform. There is far too much land in the hands of far too few. The land known as the uplands should belong to the state and be protected by the state for the benefit of the many and not the arrogant few who think they can do what ever they like because they have loads of money and simply stick their two fingers up to all and sundry including the law. Power to the people. The sooner all forms of live quarry shooting are banned the better, preferably today.

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