§ Mr. Farr
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what conditions were contained in the licences which were issued to farmers in Bedfordshire this year to enable them to conduct trials of stupefying baits to control wood-pigeons; and to what extent these conditions were observed;
(2) what subsidiary instructions were given to farmers in Bedfordshire this year who were conducting trials of stupefying bait, other than those instructions contained in the licences; and to what extent these subsidiary instructions were complied with.
§ Mr. John Mackie
The licences issued to the Bedfordshire farmers who took part in the trials were subject to the following conditions1.
- (a) The stupefying bait to be used shall be supplied by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and no bait other than that supplied by the said Ministry shall be used.
- (b) The proportion of alpha-chloralose in the bait used shall be 2 per cent. by weight.2. Stupefying bait shall be laid only by the licensee, or by persons acting on his behalf and subject to his supervision or under his control.3. Not more than 24 hours after the laying of any stupefying bait under the authority of this licence, the licensee shall in writing, give notice of such laying to the Divisional Executive Officer of the said Ministry in whose area the laying has been done. The notice shall state the name of the Parish and include details of the O.S. numbers of the fields concerned and the quantity and type of bait laid.439W4.
- (a) At least once on each of the four days immediately following the day on which stupefying bait has been laid, every site at which bait has been laid shall be visited during daylight hours by or on behalf of the licensee.
- (b) On each such visit a search shall be made at every site for birds affected by the stupefying bait, and all affected birds found shall be picked up.
- (c) Any affected birds, other than wood-pigeons and birds included in the Schedule to this licence which are taken incidentally in the course of the operation, shall be kept in baskets or cages until they recover, and then released. Wood-pigeons shall be killed quickly and humanely and their carcases disposed of by burial or incineration. Birds listed in the Schedule shall be killed and disposed of as aforesaid, or released.5. Before laying stupefying bait on any land the licensee shall obtain the approval of the land owner (if other than the licensee) and of any person having shooting rights over the land.6. The licensee shall, immediately after the conclusion of the last of the operations carried out under the authority of this licence, return to the appropriate Divisional Executive Officer all unused stupefying bait.7. The licensee shall not later than 196 make such written returns to the appropriate Divisional Executive Officer as may be required by the said Ministry giving details of all operations carried out under the authority of this licence.8. The Minister reserves the right to prohibit, by written notice to the licensee, the laying of stupefying bait at any site.
Before the trials, all the participants attended a briefing, and a leaflet explaining the correct method of laying the bait accompanied each licence. No subsidiary instructions were issued, but additional guidance was given as the need arose. Two farmers did not notify that they had laid the bait, four failed to notify within 24 hours and one farmer transferred bait to another licence-holder. In all other respects the conditions were observed. There were minor departures from the guidance given, but they neither interfered with the trials nor created an increased risk to other wild life.