Wildlife crime
Wildlife crime

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Wildlife crime
  • Wildlife offences
  • Defences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Offences against other wildlife
  • Offence of introducing a species
  • Sentences for wildlife offences

Wildlife offences

Offences in respect of damage to wildlife are provided for principally by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981) along with the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, the Deer Act 1991 , the Pests Act 1954, and the Poisons Act 1972.

Additionally there is EC and domestic legislation which has been passed in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna which is relevant to cross-border trading.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit is a strategic police unit that sits above force-level wildlife crime enforcement. Its functions are to co-ordinate enforcement activity in relation to cross-border and organised crime both nationally and internationally, to collate intelligence and to produce analytical assessments. The CPS prosecute these offences. Prosecutions must be brought within six months of the date of knowledge of the summary offences under WCA 1981.

Wildlife crime has no single clear definition but includes:

  1. disturbing or killing wild birds

  2. taking birds eggs

  3. poaching

  4. stealing wild plants

  5. badger persecution

  6. destroying bat roosts

  7. ill-treating wild animals

  8. trapping wildlife illegally

  9. poisoning wildlife illegally

  10. illegally importing, exporting or trading in endangered species

  11. use of endangered species or body parts in traditional medicines

It is an offence under WCA 1981, s 1 to kill, injure or take any wild bird or