Eurasian magpie adult perched on a branch, Stow Maries, Essex

Legal magpie control methods

Legal control methods involve trapping or shooting.

Larsen traps

Larsen trap, a type of cage trap, is designed to catch birds alive and unharmed. It can be baited with food, or with a live decoy magpie, provided all welfare regulations are met. In Scotland, a cage trap must have an identifying tag obtainable from the police Wildlife Crime Officer.

If you suspect that a trap has been set illegally to catch birds of prey, please report this to your local WCO. Gun laws prevent shooting of magpies close to public roads and houses.

We are not opposed to legal, site-specific control of magpies, nor to the legal use of Larsen or other cage traps, as long as the general licence conditions are strictly adhered to.

Magpie perched on a headstone in York Cemetery

Illegal magpie control

We do oppose illegal magpie control, including poisoning, which has a high risk of accidentally poisoning other birds, including rare birds of prey.

Many people wish to control magpies in gardens because they take eggs and chicks of other birds. Since research indicates that magpies do not pose a conservation problem to garden birds, the use of general licence in this context is at best debatable.

It must be remembered that if challenged, anyone killing magpies in their garden may have to prove to a court of law that they had acted lawfully. This may be difficult given the lack of scientific evidence that magpies affect the conservation of garden bird species.