Wildlife crime
Produced in partnership with Jeremy Phillips QC and Charles Forrest of Francis Taylor Building
Wildlife crime

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with Jeremy Phillips QC and Charles Forrest of Francis Taylor Building provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Wildlife crime
  • Wildlife offences
  • Offences against wild birds
  • Offences against protected wild animals
  • Offences against protected wild plants
  • Offence of introducing a species
  • Attempts to commit an offence
  • 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 EU and domestic legislation which has been passed in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna and which is relevant to the cross-border trading of wild animals and plants. See Practice Notes: Species Protection and Illegal wildlife trade.

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.

Summary prosecutions must be brought within six months of the date of knowledge of the offences and in any event no later than two years after their commission. See Practice Note: Commencing criminal proceedings—applying for the issue of a summons—Time limits for summary only offences.

‘Wildlife crime’ has no clear single 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