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Bird licences - preserving public health and safety

People and wildlife, including birds, usually co-exist happily but sometimes the presence of nesting birds in close proximity to people can result in problems.

If wild birds are posing a threat to public health or safety, and if there is no satisfactory alternative, then it may be possible to get a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage to permit certain actions that might otherwise constitute an offence.    Our information document Public health and safety: issues with nesting birds  PDF document - gives lots of advice including:

  • What is a public health and safety issue;
  • How to apply for a licence; 
  • What is a satisfactory alternative.

For some situations where birds pose a risk to public health and safety general licences are available.   General licences cover situations that are regarded as relatively commonplace and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact. General licences avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances but are still subject to strict conditions, and abuse of them or failure to comply with the conditions could constitute an offence.

Gull Management Plan

If the presence of gulls is causing or expected to cause a public health or safety issue it is critical to address this at the earliest possible opportunity to minimise the risks posed.   Failing to do this not only increases the risk but also means that it is unlikely to provide a longer-term solution to problems.    A gull management plan  Word document will set out a coordinated programme of actions which will be carried out to address any public health and safety problems that the gulls are causing.

Where the situation is not covered by a general licence it is possible for individuals to apply for a licence using this form:

Licence application form to take or kill wild birds, their nests or eggs  Word document

Bird licences - air safety

Birds may pose a risk to air safety. A general licence is available to permit actions against certain species in order to protect air safety.   For bird species not listed on the general licence individuals may apply for a licence using this form:

 Licence application form to take or kill birds to preserve air safety  Word document

Licence returns

It is a condition of each licence that a return is submitted. Please refer to your licence for the relevant return information required and send to clearly stating your name and licence number in the subject.

Renewals and amendments

If you hold a licence which you wish to renew or you wish to amend your licence you can:

  • telephone 01463 725364 (please make sure you have your licence number to hand); or
  • email putting your licence number in the subject.

For further information or advice please contact or telephone 01463 725364.