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British Bird Council

DEFRA Review & Discussion Page

Here we shall print news / updates to keep bird keepers informed on current lengthy discussions with DEFRA & Natural England on the Wildlife & Countryside Act reviews

& consultation process


DISCUSSIONS WITH DEFRA & NATURAL ENGLAND

Latest Communication:


Currently Surrounding Northern Goldfinch & Bullfinch Ring Sizes

 

From: British Bird Council <info@britishbirdcouncil.com>
Sent: 17 March 2017 14:12
To: 'Tweney, Jonathan (Defra)'
Cc: 'Phillimore, Emma (Defra)'; 'Brickett, Kate (Defra)'; 'Bellini, Lucy (NE)';

Subject: Northern/Siberian Goldfinches & Bullfinches
 

Hi Jonathan

 

At the meeting of Thursday 9th March 2017 you asked for estimated numbers of rings supplied for Mealy Redpoll, Northern/Siberian Goldfinch and Bullfinch.  Ring sales are generally consistent over the years so using 2016 ring sales we can give a fair “estimate”

Rings supplied 2016 size C (2.67) to breeders of Mealy Redpoll, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting and some non-schedule 3 species total 13, 340.

The Goldfinch and Mealy Redpoll are two of the most popular and numerous captive-bred species and we estimate 6,000 of these rings would be used for Mealy Redpoll and 6,000 for Goldfinch, the remainder for the other 3 species and some non-schedule 3 species.

 

Allowing for disappointments and mortalities some 4,000 Mealy Redpoll will probably reach maturity.  Life span of Mealy Redpoll is 1  to 6  or more years in captivity so we can average a 3 year life-span, that’s some 12,000 Mealy Redpolls in captivity (BBC ringed). Some keepers/breeders may keep 2 or 3 pairs others 20 or more pairs so we can average 20 birds per keeper/breeder, that’s 600 keepers/breeders of Mealy Redpoll normal’s and colour morphs (colour variants).

 

Goldfinch 6,000 rings, we estimate 25% would be for smaller races, 75% for larger Northern race as they are more willing to breed and there is a wide variety of colour morphs (colour variants) in these birds.

We estimate 4,500 rings for these larger Goldfinch.  These birds have a life-span of 1 to 8 years or more in captivity but higher mortality due to unsuitable ring size.  We estimate only 2,000 may reach maturity.  Given a 3 year life-span that’s 6,000 BBC ringed Northern/Siberian Goldfinch in captivity.  Again if we average 20 birds per keeper/breeder that’s 300 keepers/breeders of these birds.

 

Rings supplied size D (2.85) 2016 6,760 to breeders of Bullfinch, Bramblefinch and some non-schedule 3 species.  We estimate 6,000 of these would be for Bullfinch the rest for Bramblefinch and non- schedule

3 species. Using the equations as for the Goldfinch we arrive at an estimate of 300 keepers/breeders of these birds. That’s an estimated total of 1,200 keepers/breeders of these 3 sub-species (BBC ringed),

that potentially would have to register in order to use the class licence to competitively  show or sell, as at some stage every keeper/breeder needs to move (sell) surplus stocks.

You can juggle the figures about as much as you like, it still comes to a large number of registrations.  Plus add on these birds ringed with IOA rings, imports from Europe already ringed with these larger rings, which are legal in every EU state, except the UK.  Plus UK breeders who have already opted to use these larger rings on welfare grounds.  It is blatantly obvious these larger subspecies require larger rings.

 

To re-iterate in order to resolve this welfare issue, due to delay after delay with the consultation in which this issue was raised again.  First raised as far back as 2008, again 2010 and 2012.  The BBC and IOA put forward a perfectly sensible suggestion that this welfare issue could presently be resolved by placing the large subspecies of Bullfinch and Goldfinch on a general licence (incorporate them into GL15)  Mealy Redpoll licence which has operated for over 20 years perfectly well, without transgression.  General licences have sound regulatory safeguards i.e. prison sentence or unlimited fine on transgressor.

N.E. then put forward a plan to revoke GL15 and place all 3 subspecies on a registration class licence, which is neither practical or cost effective and is unnecessary and unacceptable.  It is also seen as a ploy to possibly push through more class licences in future.

 

 

Yours sincerely

Bob Partridge

pp British Bird Council

 

 

 

From: Bellini, Lucy (NE) <Lucy.Bellini@naturalengland.org.uk>
Sent: 02 March 2017 10:41
To: info@britishbirdcouncil.com
Cc:

Subject: RE: Northern/Siberian Bullfinches and Goldfinches
 
Dear Bob,

I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge your email of the 13th December, which confirmed the points we had covered in our recent conversation and provided some photos of the fit of smaller rings. Thank you for this.

As you know, I spoke with both you and Alan in early December to discuss our proposals for this Class Licence (including Mealy Redpoll), and we discussed your concerns about this approach. I indicated that the next steps would be to discuss this further internally, and then keep you and Alan informed of our decision and progress. These internal discussions have now taken place, and we would have informed you of the decision in person at last week's meeting, had the travel disruption not prevented the meeting from going ahead.

Please note that this Class Licence is not a result of Defra's consultation, but is a separate solution to address the issue you have highlighted, by allowing the sale of Northern/Siberian Bullfinches and Goldfinches with the larger size rings without requirement for an individual licence. This permits the lawful sale of such birds with a very low regulatory burden.

As previously explained, the registration requirements will be minimal, and will not involve any assessment by us. We therefore do not anticipate any problems with being inundated, especially given the very low numbers of individual applications we receive for this currently.

We agree that covering the Northern/Siberian subspecies on Bullfinch and Goldfinch on the same licence as the Mealy Redpoll makes sense. Changing the licence to a Class rather than a General Licence allows us to improve our confidence that the Mealy Redpoll General Licence is not facilitating sale of 'red listed' Lesser Redpolls with larger rings.

Kind regards,
Lucy.

Lucy Bellini
Senior Adviser
Strategy to Delivery Team
Strategy Implementation
Natural England

 

 

 

....................................................................................................................................................


From: British Bird Council [mailto:info@britishbirdcouncil.com]
Sent: 02 September 2014 14:21
To: 'Smith, Ashley (Defra)'
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes

 

Hi Ashley

 

Thank you for your e-mail of 22nd August 2014

 

Colour variants exemption/concessions. Yes, we do understand your position.  Likewise it is the duty of the British Bird Council to represent members and to seek fairness in regulations and legislation so that it is not unnecessarily restrictive.

When the Wildlife and Countryside Act came into force in 1981/82 colour variants or “abnormal coloured” as they were referred to then, were extremely rare to non-existent.  Today’s colour variants have been established by dedicated breeders using the art and study of genetics combined with line-breeding and in-breeding to establish birds which are distinguishable by colour as captive-bred because they are visually different to the wild phenotype.

The question you asked in your e-mail of 15th August was, why our members were concerned about ringing colour morphs for trade, is it the cost or other issues, which I did answer, you now seem to have rephrased the question.


As stated the issue is mainly a matter of principle as pointed out the Wildlife and Countryside Act is to protect and conserve our “wild birds”, yes the risks to the environment, i.e. in this issue “wild birds” has to be considered “assessed”, so let’s look at it from a probabilistic angle or the law of probability, the chances “risks” of a colour variant being taken from the wild are remote, millions to one to impossible, depending on the colour of the morph, the risks from that angle are minute.  So breeders ask why should closed ringing be compulsory for trade of colour variants.

 

Do you know of any prosecutions under the Wildlife and Countryside Act which involved colour variants fitted with tampered rings or unringed?  My memory’s not perhaps what it was but I cannot recall any!

 

As already stated the risk of unringed normal phenotypes being passed off as colour variants are highly remote in practical terms, any so called loophole is so small it’s difficult to see how anyone would squeeze through it undetected.  We have not had any reports of anyone being conned into buying a normal as a colour variant fitted with a correct or a tampered ring. Neither have we had any reports of anyone being conned into buying unringed British or European birds as mules or hybrids, though we have had reports of said agencies requiring assistance in recognising the differences between these mules and hybrids British or European birds.

No doubt I’ll be corrected if I’ve got it wrong but my understanding is that the British or European parents used in the production of mules and hybrids must be captive-bred and the same would apply to colour variants exempted from closed ringing.

The above is used as a comparison, so is the situation with colour variant deemed any different.

We believe colour variants could and should be treated in the same way as mules and hybrids of which there are many colours derived from colour variants which quite rightly do not have to be closed rings.

They are both derived from “counterparts” of wild species and are both highly unlikely or impossible to be found in or taken from the wild.  Maybe the above in reference to mules and hybrids would help you conceive a workable definition.  We intend to keep members informed of dialogue on our website, maybe it will bring in some useful comments on the issue.

As already stated definition of colour variant or colour morph is that it is visibly different in colour to that of the wild phenotype.


We trust you will be able to incorporate it in the consultation as it is an issue that needs to be dealt with in a fair manner.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Bob Partridge

 

pp British Bird Council

 

 Reply from Ashely Smith (DEFRA) 22nd August 2014

 

From: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Sent: 22 August 2014 13:11
To: British Bird Council
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes

 

 

Bob

 

Thanks for your email. I understand your position and the points you have made. I hope you will understand that it is my job to challenge them and ensure the best outcome.

In my email of 15th August, I asked why you/your members think an exception for colour-variants is necessary? However, you have not addressed this point.

Government must implement the precautionary principle when considering potential risks to the environment – to deviate from the current position would therefore require a good reason, supported by robust evidence that the risk would be minimal. You have argued that there is no evidence to support the claim that introducing an exception would pose a risk to wild birds, but you do not provide any evidence to show that it would not pose a risk.

As you state, the key risks of including such an exception are unringed wild-caught birds being passed off as colour-variants. While this risk may, in practical terms, seem to be small, we need to be mindful of the legal position – we must not create a loophole by introducing a vaguely-worded exception that relies on the subjective identification of colour-variants by individual buyers, enforcement officers etc.

At this time, I cannot conceive of a workable definition which could be used in this way. However, others may be able to provide views and advice which could help us formulate something, which is why I am considering including it in the consultation. However, as stated above, this is subject to me gaining the agreement of others.

 

Regards

 

Ash

 


From Bob Partridge 22nd August 2014

 

From: British Bird Council
Sent: 22 August 2014 11:49
To: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes
Importance: High

 

Hi Ashley

 

Thanks for responding so quickly to e-mail of August 15th 2014.

Colour variants, exemption/concessions, we understand your approach to this has to be cautious.

We assume the said agencies are concerned that unringed phenotype wild birds would be sold as colour variants.

We believe this is highly unlikely, the wild phenotype of a species is consistent enough to be generally recognised in both colour and pattern, that’s its nature.

So it’s difficult to comprehend how someone could be fooled into buying an unringed normal as a colour variant.  We know there are both the unscrupulous and naive on both sides of the fence.

If it was to happen the seller would face charges not only under the Wildlife and Countryside Act but also presumably charges of deception and fraud, as the saying goes “their feet wouldn’t touch the ground”!

True, there may be occasions when expert opinion may need to be sort but that’s the case in so many walks of life.

In the event of an alleged offence an investigating officer unsure of their ground, calls in expert assistance that’s normal procedure.  More specific information as to which colour variants are the cause for such concern is required.

Yes, it would be helpful to all concerned to include a section in the consultation to seek views, more dialogue, may well also prove helpful to all concerned.

It is not the cost of ringing colour variants for trade, it is not even that losses occur due to closed ringing.  As already stated the vast majority of colour variants would continue to be closed ringed for reasons already given.  It is a matter of principle, the laws and ringing regulations are there to protect and conserve our wild birds.

As already stated, we see no evidence that exemption/concessions for colour variants would have any adverse effects on wild populations, neither are we presently convinced the term colour variant would be misconstrued.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Bob Partridge

 

 

Reply from Ashely Smith (DEFRA) 15th August 2014

 

From: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Sent: 15 August 2014 12:18
To: BBC
Subject: FW: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes
Importance: High

 


Dear Bob

 

Thank you for your email; I’ll respond now rather than have you slip off the end of my ever-growing ‘To Do’ list!

 

Concerns were previously raised to me by colleagues in the agencies regarding the risk of allowing colour variants to be sold without a ring. I understand your point that the bird must be considered ‘visually distinct’ from it’s wild-bred counterparts. However, I am sure you can understand the difficulty we would have in phrasing such an exception for colour variants. How do we define the point at which a bird is visually distinct due to colouration or patterning? In many ways it is a matter of subjective perception, a large part of which is based on experience – e.g. a breeder who works with a species of bird everyday may be able to spot a colour variant very quickly, whereas a buyer or enforcement officer who is less familiar with a particular species may not be able to tell the difference.

 

I’m also confused as to why your members would be so concerned about ringing colour-morphs for trade? Is it a matter of cost, or are there other issues?

Considering the differences in opinion on this matter, I’m minded to include a section in the consultation to seek views from all parties.

 

 

Best wishes

 

Ash

 

From Bob Partridge 15th August 2014

 

From: British Bird Council
Sent: 15 August 2014 11:16
To: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes
Importance: High

 

 

Hi Ashley

 

Thank you for your e-mail of July 25th 2014. Answers to our questions appreciated and noted.

 

Colour variants, exemption/concessions can you illuminate on concerns regarding definition and which colour variants are, as you put it very close to non-colour variants.

 

Having specialised in the breeding of British and European colour variants for over 50 years, my understanding is that in aviculture, as in biology the term colour variant is accepted as referring to a bird which is a colour morph visually different in colour to that of the wild form/normal phenotype.

 

Colour variants have only been recorded in the wild as rare or very rare occurrences usually estimated to be one in a million or one in several million.

 

Many colour variants produced in captivity have never occurred in the wild and in fact could not occur in the wild due to their genetic make-up.  Your caution is noted but presently we fail to see evidence of how exemption for colour variants could have detrimental effects in respect of conservation of wild populations, what evidence is there?

 

Many colour variants would continue to be closed ringed both voluntarily and by necessity for breeding records and because the vast majority of colour variant pairing/matings produce varying percentages of both colour variant and visual normal siblings in a nest, and at ringing age differences are not always obvious, some colour variants can be identified at this age by eye socket or skin colour, others will not be identifiable until fully feathered.

 

Some of the visual normal siblings will be capable of producing colour variants but being visually normal they cannot be considered as a colour variant so would need to be closed ringed for both sale and exhibition.

 

We thank you for considering sharing V5 with us prior to publication, it would be much appreciated we do understand it would only allow for “dotting i’s and crossing t’s”, as they say.

 

We do understand that the consultation is in two parts, that is quite clear and it is obvious the second part cannot be undertaken until the first part is concluded, we still view the second part as the main consultation in regard closed ring sizes, characteristics etc.

 

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Bob Partridge

 

pp British Bird Council

 

Reply from Ashely Smith (DEFRA) 25th July 2014


From: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Sent: 25 July 2014 16:14
To: British Bird Council
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes

 

 

Hello Bob

 

Thank you for your email, I hope you are enjoying the glorious summer weather!

 

Version 5 of the consultation document is very similar to version 4 – some of the text has been expanded/amended to provide greater clarity, and there has been some slight restructuring, but the options are largely the same.

 

I am currently in discussion with colleagues regarding the issue of colour variants. There is some concern regarding the definitions that might be used – as I understand it, some colour variants can be very close to the non-colour variants, so we need to be careful about considering any sort of exemption.

 

If there is time I will consider sharing V5 with you prior to official publication, though I am sure you will realise that we will not have time to take account of detailed comments.

 

Your email below mentions the “main consultation on closed rings” - I am not sure what you mean by this comment. As V4 of the document made clear, the document currently being drafted is essentially a consultation of two parts, which will be dealt with on different timescales – there is a key issue regarding trade in birds imported from other European Member States which we are seeking to resolve as quickly as possible, and the consultation is seeking yours and others’ views on how we might implement the solution we have identified. We hope that this resolution will be implemented as soon as possible following the consultation.

 

Further to this, we are also using this opportunity to gather more information and perspectives on the range of other issues that have been raised regarding matters such as ring sizes, the characteristics of rings, etc. We will carefully consider the information we receive in response to these questions, and formulate further proposals on the basis of that information. I expect we will then seek to meet with you and copyees to discuss these proposals and refine them further. Any further amendments required to legislation or licences will follow this process. I recognise that you have an annual deadline whereby you must order rings for the following year every August, and we will take this in to account in our planning.

 

I hope that is clear.

 

Kind regards, enjoy your weekend.

 

Ashley G Smith

 

Defra

 

 

From Bob Partridge 23rd July 2014


From: British Bird Council
Sent: 23 July 2014 13:41
To: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes
Importance: High

 


Hi Ashley

 

Thanks for your e-mail of July 3rd 2014.

 

We note reasons for delay and that you have prepared Version 5, following talks with your Welsh and Scottish counterparts.

Is Version 5 based on options etc. of Version 4 draft, taking into account comments made in relation to draft 4, particularly comments made previously and recently, ref. colour variants to be considered for some possible concessions or exemption?

Will we see a draft of Version 5 before it goes to full public consultation?

We assume this delay will also delay the main consultation on closed rings.

We remind you we have to place our order for closed rings for 2015 with the manufacturer before the end of august 2014 and are presently preparing our order requirements.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Bob Partridge

 

pp British Bird Council

 

 

From Ashley Smith DEFRA  3rd July 2014


 

From: Smith, Ashley (Defra)
Sent: 03 July 2014 16:44
To: British Bird Council
Subject: RE: Review of requirements for trading of captive-bred birds - consultation on proposed changes

 

 

Dear Bob

 

Apologies for the poor response rate, as you have identified I have been extremely busy and also have been on leave for some of this period.

 

 

We are still very much expecting to proceed with a public consultation on this matter; the delay has been necessary to ensure the range of options proposed to resolve concerns with the regime are all equitable, pragmatic outcomes that will not result in increased risk to wild populations.

 

As you will be aware, nature conservation is a devolved matter, meaning each Administration has powers to take steps as it sees fit to protect wild birds and other flora and fauna. However, it has been my strong preference since commencing work on this project to ensure that the final outcome is as consistent and coherent as possible for end-users such as your members to work with, while still acknowledging that variations in the regime may be necessary for a range of reasons.

 

To this I have been working with my counterparts in the Welsh and Scottish Governments in an effort to produce a joint consultation document that recognises these issues.  Version 5 of the consultation document is currently with my colleagues in Welsh Government and Scottish Government who are considering the amendments; once I have their comments, I expect to finalise the paper and gain permission to consult within a few weeks.


 

Regards

 

Ash

 



 

From Bob Partridge 1st July 2014

 

Hi Ashley

 

I have tried to get in touch with you over the phone for the past few weeks, since I received the – Version 4 draft (20th March 2014) in April and I conversed with you on the phone.

Since which time we have received no further information on this consultation.

I have left messages on your answer machine but still have not received any information as to what’s happening with this promised consultation.

I realise you probably have a heavy work load but feel we should have been informed if this consultation has been delayed yet again.

 

Would you please acknowledge with an update as to what is happening.

 

 

Yours sincerely


Bob Partridge

British Bird Council

 

Reply from Ashely Smith (DEFRA) 3rd July 2014

 

Dear Bob

 

Apologies for the poor response rate, as you have identified I have been extremely busy and also have been on leave for some of this period.

 

We are still very much expecting to proceed with a public consultation on this matter; the delay has been necessary to ensure the range of options proposed to resolve concerns with the regime are all equitable, pragmatic outcomes that will not result in increased risk to wild populations.

 

As you will be aware, nature conservation is a devolved matter, meaning each Administration has powers to take steps as it sees fit to protect wild birds and other flora and fauna. However, it has been my strong preference since commencing work on this project to ensure that the final outcome is as consistent and coherent as possible for end-users such as your members to work with, while still acknowledging that variations in the regime may be necessary for a range of reasons.

 

To this I have been working with my counterparts in the Welsh and Scottish Governments in an effort to produce a joint consultation document that recognises these issues.  Version 5 of the consultation document is currently with my colleagues in Welsh Government and Scottish Government who are considering the amendments; once I have their comments, I expect to finalise the paper and gain permission to consult within a few weeks.

 

Regards

Ash 

 

Ashley Smith  DEFRA

 

 

Pending Ring Review, Documentation (Interim Measures)

 

The following updates are issued to keep you informed and may be found useful, particularly to those contemplating procuring birds from non U.K. sources (i.e. from other European Union states).

 

Ring review and Documentation

 

Latest correspondence to and from DEFRA/Natural England –

 

E-mail to Ashley Smith (DEFRA) – 25/7/13

 

 

“Hi Ashley

 

Are we any nearer to moving forward with the ring review?

We shall be ordering rings next month from the ring manufacturers for 2014 season. Also we have a meeting of delegates on September 22nd when I am sure all delegates will be asking for latest updates on these matters.  


Yours sincerely

Bob  Partridge


pp. British Bird Council”

 

 

E-mail to Ashley Smith (DEFRA) – 20/8/13

 

“Hi Ashley

I e-mailed you on 25th July 2013 at 10.07 subject Ring review (copy attached).

 

I know you spoke to Chris Boyce back in May, but we needed an update, but to date no reply.

However, I have been copied in on the Alan Robinson e-mail of August 9th and your reply of August 12th 2013 informing on reasons for delay of ring review etc.

Apart from the above e-mail of July 25th I have not been in touch with DEFRA or NE recently but have taken on board the issues raised in the many recent e-mails, particularly statements from Matt at NE in regard to the very limited interim measures for Licence application.

Whilst the interim measures are welcome they basically only apply to imports and do not touch the wider issues of concern for documentation.

The situation remains unclear and unhelpful in regard to non-schedule 3 species as we do not know which species may or may not require documentation, not a satisfactory position and it is hoped that this is not a prelude as to what to expect for the future. We intend putting the statements from NE on our website so that members are informed on the position if procuring stock from outside the UK from other E.U. states.

 

Whilst we are not generally involved in what are described as “exotic” species there is considerable concern on the legal position of keepers and breeders of these species.


It is not a problem in other E.U. states as the closed ring is accepted as proof of breeding no documentation or Licence is required except for cities listed species and a few other listed species.

 

It really is time we were put on a level playing field.

 

The situation here, because no one has been properly informed of the legal position on these “exotic” species many of which are being captive bred in the UK in considerable numbers, not ringed, no documentation, and no retained breeding records. 

It would appear all are open to prosecution under the amended Wildlife and Countryside Act. 

Will DEFRA or NE be making this known to the fancy in general by an announcement in the fancy press i.e. Cage & Aviary Birds magazine publication?

 

Can NE cope with applications for WML A20 Licences?  I note 2 applications to sell unringed exotics have been turned down.

Even if ringed it is unlikely that they can use G.L. 18 as they are unlikely to have documentation.  Many of the present problems could be resolved, both Alan and myself suggested to Tim Andrews sometime ago that a way forward would be to list most species in Schedule 3, was it not noted, kicked into touch, or did it just fall on deaf ears?

 

Ian Clark has now put it to Matt of NE in writing (e-mail June 28th 2013), but as yet have seen no response, of course it needs considerable tweaking  in regard to listings such as excluding cities listed species, schedule 4 species, possibly some birds of prey and U/R species such as some waterfowl etc.

 

Closed ring issues, should they be set sizes or recommended.  Should they be all ID coded, I use ID coded myself but others feel this may be seen as a restrictive practice as ID codes can only be issued to members so a uniquely numbered traceable ring may suffice or should both be available, but all this can be sorted and would resolve many of the problems and cut financial expenditure in the long term.

The other EU states don’t have a schedule 3, but they have similar listings as a system and it appears to work satisfactory.

 

Regards

 

Bob Partridge

 

pp British Bird Council”


 

 

E-mail to Ashley Smith (DEFRA) – 11th September 2013

 

“Hi Ashley


I e-mailed you on 25th July 2013 at 10.07 and 20th August 2013 at 13.38 both attached.

 

To date, no replies have been received.  Would you please confirm receipt or otherwise of same?

 

They raise a number of issues, concerns and questions to which we feel answers are required.  I do realise you have a heavy workload at present, having been dropped in at the deep-end, as it were.

 

Regards

 

Bob Partridge

 

pp British Bird Council”

 

Reply from Ashley Smith (DEFRA) – 11th September 2013

 

“Hi Bob

My apologies for not responding to your emails sooner. As you have identified, things have been more than a little hectic here lately!

 

However, I am very happy to confirm that Elaine is now well enough to return to work, on a part-time basis currently. As a result of this, and other resources that have been committed to wild birds policy recently, my workload has started to decline sufficiently to allow me to start looking at this review again. Indeed, I met with the Welsh Government last week to discuss the issue, and to confirm that we will be aiming to take coordinated action to consult on proposals. I am also in the process of speaking to my counter-parts in Scotland and Northern Ireland about their plans.

 

I am on leave next week, but when I return I plan to update our timetable, and hopefully let you know when we plan to issue a consultation. So, things are finally moving again.

 

In the meantime, I am aware that there continues to be some confusion about how the current regime works, including the steps taken by NE to allow individual licences to trade birds to be issued without requirement for documentary evidence. It is certainly a complex area, and it took me many weeks to get my head around the regime, during which time I produced a table which describes the current legislative and administrative requirements for trading birds. However, this was produced for my own use and is not comprehensive or suitable for release in its current state. More importantly, issuing a statement explaining how the current regime works just before we launch a consultation on how it should be changed is likely only to create confusion amongst traders who are not currently as involved in this process as yourself and others copied.
Therefore I do not propose to issue a statement or any guidance on this subject until such time as we are ready to consult – as an explanation of the current regime will be featured in our consultation paper. I am sorry if this unsatisfactory.

 

There has been a lot of correspondence from the BBC, IOA and others, many of which ask the same/similar questions repeatedly. Matt Heydon has responded to many of these, for which I am very grateful to him. However, such correspondence does distract us from the task at hand, so it would be helpful if it could be kept to a minimum as far as possible.

 

For info, I have attached one of the most recent of these emails, between Matt, Ian Clark and myself, in which Matt answers a lot of these questions (the chain is lengthy!). I’d encourage you and others to read this.  

Best wishes,

 

Ash”

 

Comment; 

 

(the lengthy chain)! Only gives replies to a few of the questions and suggestions put forward by the BBC, IOA and SACS – it is condensed below for guidance.

 

Interim Measures

 

Please note the present interim measure only covers  “European Species” imported from E.U. states. DEFRA and N.E. have declined to issue a full and clear statement to date, but the following responses from N.E. to questions asked, may be found useful.

 

I do not intend to sell the birds


You do not need a licence to possess a legally aquired cap[tive bred bird, nor do you need one to breed from it.


The key activities that are controlled are trading (selling or exchanging etc), advertising or transporting for the purposes of sale, and showing for the purposes of competition. This applies to captive bred birds, whether they are sourced from within the UK or from other European Member States.

 

I may wish to sell the birds which Licence is required

 

It depends on the species of bird. If the bird is a Schedule 3 Part 1 species (which is captive bred and rung in
accordance with SI1982/1220 i.e. with rings supplied by the authorised UK suppliers) then you do not need a licence to sell such birds. If, however, the bird is not rung in accordance with SI1982/1220, then you need a licence to sell the bird. You can either rely on licence GL-18 (if they have close rings fitted and you have documentary evidence of captive breeding), or you can apply for an individual licence – WML-A20

 

As an interim measure we are not (routinely) requiring documentary evidence in support of individual applications, but we do require birds to be fitted with an appropriate closed ring.

 

Please note that this is a temporary measure and that all applications are considered on their merits and the circumstances of a particular case may warrant a different approach.

 

We also recommend that breeders keep records of the birds they breed.

 

Is there a list of Non-Schedule 3 species covered by the Wildlife & Countryside Act.

 

There is no such list, nor can we produce one. Whether or not a bird is British is not relevant to the application of
legal controls on bird sales. The legislation protects all wild birds, and “wild birds” in this context means “any bird of a species which is ordinarily resident in or is a visitor to the European territory of any member State in a wild state but does not include poultry or, except in sections 5 and 16, any game bird” (this is the definition given in section 27 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended).

 

In essence, this means that all wild birds found in Europe are protected, even if they are not normally found in the UK, as well as well established exotic species (such as the ring-necked parakeet and Canada goose). The non-Schedule 3 approach applies to any bird species occurring in a wild state in Europe that is not listed on Schedule 3 Part I. There are too many Non Schedule 3 species to be listed.

 

If a European species is not listed on Schedule 3 Part 1, and none of these are, then a licence is required to sell
this species - you can either rely on General licence GL18 or you can apply for an individual licence – WML-A20

 

We shall endeavour to keep you informed of any further important updates.

 


Ringing Regulation Review and Trading of Birds from E.U Member States,


 

A Recent Statement from DEFRA.

 

27.March 2013


 

We are currently continuing to explore options to address the issues raised by stakeholders regarding both
ring sizes and trading birds imported from other Member States. We are making good progress on this work, and I hope we will be able to share our proposed solution with you and other industry representatives shortly – probably by late Spring/ early Summer. We will then undertake a round of informal engagement with yourself, the IOA etc, before finalising proposals over the Summer and delivering them in Autumn/Winter 2013.

 

It is therefore highly unlikely that we will be able to make any changes to SI 1982/1220 (‘the Ringing
Regulations’) by August 2013, when you are ordering rings for use in 2014. I understand that this may leave you with some uncertainty for now. We will of course make every effort to ensure that we are sensitive to the potential impacts that any changes we make to ringing requirements might have on businesses like yours and shall try to minimise these, where possible and appropriate.

Kind regards

 

Ash

 

Mr Ashley G Smith Wild Birds Policy Officer

 

Recently a Meeting at the House of Commons


with John Randall MP


 

Bob Partridge B.B.C, Chris Smith N.C.A and Alan Robinson I.O.A attended a meeting with John Randall MP at the House of Commons amongst other things two main issues were raised:

 

1. Ringing Regulation Review and Trading of Birds from E.U Member States,        

 

2. A Recent Statement from DEFRA. (see above)

 

3. Reinstatement of Lesser Redpoll to schedule 3
                                                

This meeting proved very constructive and we await further developments.

 

Problems ringing northern birds



General opinion, and advice given by B Partridge, particularly in regard to Northern birds was that if members had difficulty in ringing any bird they should use the next size up, keep a full record of why and when etc but that if they wanted to sell it they would need an exemption licence from Natural E who would need the ring number etc. on application form. WML-A20   

 

Click Link

 

 

Licence to sell unrung birds


 

It would appear that Natural England have had a change of direction, although in the past we were informed
that unrung Birds ( Birds not rung with an official closed ring) could not be sold under licence but could be passed on only as a gift.

 

Recently Natural England Granted a Licence WLF 026837 for an unrung bird to be sold namely a colour variant
Northern Bullfinch, Pyrrhula Pyrrhula without documentary evidence of captive breeding.

 

It would appear that providing documentary evidence of captive breeding is supplied on the application form
along with other necessary detail, a licence can also be granted for a normal coloured unrung bird.

 


REDPOLLS


A joint announcement by the B.B.C., I.O.A. and N.C.A. 

 

According to a statement by Natural England on their website dated May 2011. Due to taxonomic review by
British Ornithological Union in 2001, the Lesser Redpoll formally termed (Carduelis flammea caberet) has in effect by default been removed from Schedule 3. Part 1. where Redpoll is listed as Carduelis flammea, which covered all Redpolls with the exception of species Carduelis hornemanni “Arctic Redpoll”.

 

Discussions with D.E.F.R.A. and N.E. to resolve the issue have to date not reached a satisfactory conclusion.

 

With the show and sale season fast approaching and after some discussion with the B.O.U. in regards to
ancestry of captive bred stocks of Redpoll, the B.B.C., I.O.A. and N.C.A. issue the following advice to keepers, breeders, sellers, exhibitors and show promoters.

 

Due to their mixed race ancestry captive bred Redpolls shall for the present be referred to as Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea).

 

The term Lesser to be deleted from nomenclature.  Small captive bred version to be referred to as Common
Redpoll, large version as Mealy Redpoll.

 

Should you believe you have any captive bred pure caberet (which is highly unlikely) or Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) that you wish to sell or show you will need to abide by regulations of


 

GL18 and GL14. Please see Natural England Website at: www.naturalengland.org.uk

 

British Bird Council @ 2015