Log in Register

Log in


MUTE SWAN (Cygnus olor) The Mute Swan is protected by the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and sold under the General Licence to sell dead birds WML GL17. As from January last year an extra condition was introduced (although this inclusion was not publicised) that to sell a Mute Swan (or part thereof) needed the permission of the Royal Swan Marker. Under the Royal prerogative the Crown has the right to claim ownership of all Mute Swans in the UK that are unmarked and swimming in open waters (dead or alive or part thereof). It is an archaic law dating back to the 12th or 13th century. This new condition which will appear on the new 2018 General licence covers all sales; hire; barter but NOT Possession. We are advised the Royal Swan Marker will grant permission only for educational & scientific purposes and as it stands at the moment will only allow commissions (that is if an educational establishment brings a dead Swan to you for preparation then you are allowed (subject to permission) to mount the bird for that establishment and can charge a fee for your work. It does not allow you sell a Swan from stock. As the General licence including the condition re Mute Swans was first issued in January 2017 we have a duty to abide by the ruling for now. We are still in talks with Natural England and will include the Royal Swan Marker in any further decisions made. It is interesting to note that SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) have just informed us that they intend to issue the new 2018 General Licenses but we note they have not included any such condition on Mute Swans – neither have the Welsh Government. Now either this is an omission on their part or more probably that they were not consulted. Therefore, unless it is amended the situation with Mute Swan in Scotland & Wales is unchanged. We will advise as soon as this is confirmed. This and other questions have been fired off at Natural England and we await their answers. They have promised to deal with them on their return from the festive holidays. The conditions set by Natural England are as follows:- “In liaison with RSM and Defra Legal we are now able to clarify the situation regarding mute swan, and have just made the following amendments to WML-GL17: Condition 3. “Before using this General Licence for mute swans, the licence user must first seek permission from Her Majesty’s Swan Marker (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) (see Information and Advice note d).” Information and Advice note d states “Under the Royal Prerogative the Crown has the right to claim ownership of all mute swans in the United Kingdom that are unmarked and swimming in open waters; this applies to dead as well as live birds and to any parts thereof. Permission may be granted via The Queen's Swan Marker for a dead mute swan or mute swan parts to be used for educational purposes; however, under the terms of such a permission it/they may not be sold for profit but an educational establishment or museum may be permitted to pay a taxidermist for their work. Furthermore, any appropriate documentation should be retained as evidence of the existence and terms of any permission”. The revised version (attached for information) will be published on Gov.uk on 1 January 2018, and is the version to which your members will need to comply. Basically a licence is not required to possess mute swan or mute swan parts but you do need to be able to prove it was taken lawfully (i.e. found dead), and a record stating that info should be kept with the specimen(s). The species may be sold under GL17 only in accordance with the licence conditions. The Crown’s decision to only permit the sale of mute swans (and any parts or derivatives thereof) for the purposes of education, i.e. sold to an educational establishment school/museum etc, is the prerogative of the Crown and we are advised that the Crown will not give permission for sale of mute swans (and any parts or derivatives thereof) for any other purpose. There is no specific definition for “appropriate documentation”. Any permission is between the applicant and the Crown, via HM Swan Marker. Whatever form the permission from RSM takes, such permission should be kept with the documentation that demonstrates that they have been legally acquired and, if relevant, sold. In terms of antique/pre 1947 specimens - this is not relevant to sale of dead birds. So, under the conditions set by the new General Licence the sale (Hire or exchange) of Mute Swan is prohibited until we can hopefully negotiate a change. The species should therefore be treated in a similar way as if it was listed WCA Schedule 5.