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DEFRA stalls on Class Licence plans

Mealy-redpoll-cock-by-JDEFRA’S LATEST DECISION to delay its proposal for a Class Licence (CL) for Northern British bird subspecies has left the hobby “in limbo”, says the British Bird Council (BBC).

In March, the proposal was branded “unacceptable” by the BBC and International Ornithological Association (IOA), who argued that a CL instead of a General Licence (GL) would affect plans to increase ring sizes in line with birds being bred in Europe.

Since 2008, the BBC and IOA have pleaded to DEFRA and Natural England (NE) for a change to the ring size of some native subspecies – Siberian goldfinches, Siberian bullfinches and mealy redpolls – which need larger rings. Current rings are too small and are causing deformities, which are becoming a welfare issue.

In their argument against the proposal, the BBC and IOA provided DEFRA and NE with photographic evidence of birds with deformed feet following the ringing of chicks in the nest.

But on August 10, BBC and IOA representatives received the following email from a NE spokesperson, who asked not to be named:

“As you will recall, we previously discussed with you the introduction of a CL to permit the sale of the Northern/Siberian subspecies of bullfinch and goldfinch, plus mealy redpoll.

“While this CL remains our aspiration, we have decided not to introduce it at the current time, but rather to give it further differconsideration.”

NE states that further evidence of the welfare issue “clearly showing the subspecies of bird affected and also the scale of the problem”, should be received.

In reaction to the email, BBC president Bob Partridge told Cage & Aviary Birds: “This leaves us in limbo; it is an aggravating situation for those involved.

“It is good news that this proposal has been held up, but we have already given NE that much information about the problems with these rings, and yet they still ask for more evidence.

“We are going round in circles and it is a total waste of NE’s money and our resources.”

Both the BBC and IOA are urging for all members who are having problems with putting small rings on these larger birds to get in touch (in writing only).

Mr Partridge added: “The BBC has moved forward in the hope that rather continue another season of cruelty with these birds, it will issue larger rings on request. Enough is enough, we will not cause mutilation to these birds. As the law stands, if issued with larger rings the birdkeeper must apply to DEFRA for an A20 licence in order to sell the birds on.”

● Send your written evidence and photographs to: The BBC, Hampstead House, Condover Road, West Heath, Birmingham B31 3QY.

Cage and Aviary Birds is Published by

KELSEY MEDIA,
Cudham Tithe Barn,
Cudham, Kent. TN16 3AG

Tel: +(044) 195 954 1444