Defra Secretary Michael Gove has promised to ‘reflect’ on the possibility of introducing a predator control option to any future English agri-environment scheme.
Mr Gove made the remarks when giving evidence to a House of Lords committee last week.
Asked whether Natural England would be able to support predator and pest control to maintain biodiversity in future, as its Scottish counterpart does, the Defra Secretary said: “I would have to reflect on that.
“I would not want to set any hares running at this stage. One of the things about predator and pest control is there can be fixed caps in this debate whom it is wise not to antagonise, but let me give consideration to this, because there is a lot that happens in Scotland which I admire, some things I do not.”
In Scotland, predator control is accepted as an important part of conservation and wildlife management, and Scottish farmers are able to make use of a ‘predator control’ option under the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.
The option supports predator control on permanent grassland or rough grazing to benefit ground-nesting birds such as black grouse and waders.
It can be used to deal with crows – carrion crows, hooded crows, jays and magpies – as well as foxes, stoats, weasels and mink which prey on birds.
Farmers Guardian asked the RSPB if it would support such an option in England.
A spokesman said: “The debate around the future of environment land management schemes is extremely dynamic at the moment and it would be wrong to commit to something at such an early stage in the debate without considering all the possible options.
“We look forward to taking part in the public consultation on this topic and working together with others to create an environment that works better for people and wildlife.”
Current agri-environment schemes in England have already been shown to double farmland bird numbers.
Gove to ‘reflect’ on introducing support for predator control in new agri-env scheme: t.co/J5MwyXSBxj What do you think? Good idea?— Abi Kay (@FGAbiKay)