Wildlife Offences

There are several protection acts in place that are relevant in wildlife preservation. The Primary legislation which protects animals, habitats and plants in the UK is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The legislation protects the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats. 

Other legislation commonly used alongside the Wildlife and Countryside Act includes:

  • Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996
  • Protection of Badgers Act 1992
  • Deer Act 1992
  • Pest Act 1954
  • Poisons Act 197
  • Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 
  • Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 

Wildlife crime includes a variety of offences: poaching, killing or disturbing protected species, damaging animal breeding and resting places, illegally trading endangered species. Wildlife crimes like Badger-baiting and the illegal use of poisons and traps, cause animal suffering.

Wildlife crimes include:

  • Protection of Wild Plants: picking, uprooting or destroying any wild plant
  • Prohibited use of weapons, vehicles and decoys
  • Illegal trade in CITES species
  • Poaching (deer, fish & hare coursing)
  • Raptor persecution
  • Environmental damage
  • Heather and grass burning
  • Agricultural work that affects uncultivated land or semi-natural areas
  • Breaches of wildlife licences and notices
  • Prohibited Pesticide poisoning to animals
  • Protection of Wild Animals
(Including Birds, Bats, Badgers, and Deer: prohibited methods of killing or injuring any wild animal, destructing birds nest, collecting eggs, possession or control of any wild animal live or dead.)

Most police forces have designated wildlife crime officers (WCO). Most CPS areas have wildlife coordinators, who are responsible for wildlife cases. The NWCU is a police led multi-agency unit with a UK remit for wildlife crime. The Crown Prosecution Service partners with English Heritage and Natural England on the prevention, investigation and enforcement of wildlife crime.

A person attempting to commit an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 may face punishment for the full offence. Sentencing and prosecution varies depending on offence. A serious Crime Prevention Order can sometimes be applied under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is to prevent reoffending and breaches can result in immediate prison sentence. 

If you are facing charges or have been charged with a wildlife offence,  call  0113 284 5042 or alternatively email amber.walker@isonharrison.co.uk

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