Wildlife crime

Wildlife crime

European badger (Meles meles) cub staring, Summer, Dorset, United Kingdom - Bertie Gregory/2020VISION

What is wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime can take many forms and it can be difficult to know what constitutes a crime. They can range from organised crimes (such as the trade in endangered species) to people shooting at birds with air guns. We have listed examples of wildlife crime below; if you believe you may have witnessed any of these, please share this information to assist in bringing offenders to justice. It is also important to note that wildlife crime does not include crimes involving domestic animals nor wild animals involved in road traffic accidents.

Red Squirrel looking down on a little yellow telephone booth; image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Red Squirrel on telephone booth; image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Important numbers

 

If you witness a wildlife crime taking place, call 999

 

For non-emergency cases, call 101 or you can report online here.

 

To report an incident anonymously, call Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111

 

For wildlife crimes already committed, pollution, damage/destruction of bat roosts, fish poaching, damage to protected sites, or suspected illegal tree felling, called Natural Resources Wales (NRW): 0300 065 3000

It is important not to put yourself at risk; never get into a face-to-face confrontation.

If you can safely gather evidence, this will help with subsequent investigations. Make detailed notes of WHERE - WHAT - WHO - WHEN, including descriptions of the individuals involved, car registrations, equipment being used, etc.; if you can, take plenty of photographs or even video. Then leave the area as soon as you can and report it.

When reporting to the police, you will be given an incident number. If the crime you witnessed took place on one of our nature reserves, please report to the authorities first and then let us know about the incident by emailing: info@montwt.co.uk or calling 01938 555654.

Badger Meles meles Portrait of an adult badger in evening light Derbyshire, UK copyright Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Badger © Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION

Badgers

Despite being protected under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992, Badgers still suffer persecution from those using dogs to dig them from their setts. If you are aware or suspicious that an active sett has been disturbed, please report it. Signs to look for are recently moved earth, human/dog footprints, blood or fur around the sett or objects blocking the entrances to the sett.

Brown Hare copyriught Donald Sutherland

Donald Sutherland

Poaching /coursing

Hare coursing is one of the most common examples of illegal poaching, with dogs used to flush out hares. Signs to look out for if you suspect individuals of deer, hare or badger poaching, are a group of vehicles parked at night in a rural area (by a gateway to a farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track), which may show evidence of dogs inside. Other indications are suspicious looking road kill or the discovery of bait, traps and snares.

It's not just game that are covered under this. Fishing without a license in private fisheries or rivers is also a poaching offence.

Fox head & shoulder portrait copyright Elliot Smith

Fox (Vulpes vulpes) © Elliot Smith

Hunting with dogs

As a result of the Hunting Act 2004, it is now illegal to hunt for a wild mammal with a dog, unless the hunting is exempt. The hunting of rats and rabbits is also illegal unless it is carried out by the landowner or with his written permission.

Some activities which may appear to be hunting, but are not in breach of the Act, include trail hunting, hound exercising and flushing to guns.

Brown Long-eared Bat copyright Tom Marshall

Brown Long-eared Bat © Tom Marshall

Bats

All bats, their breeding sites and resting places are protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Other species covered by the same legislation include Otter, Hazel Dormouse and Great Crested Newt; often known collectively as 'European Protected Species'.

You must contact Natural Resources Wales for a licence if you need to disturb a bat roost. More information on bats and their protection can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website.

Hedgehog half curled into a ball copyright Amy Lewis

Hedgehog © Amy Lewis

Animal cruelty

All British wild mammals are protected from deliberate acts of cruelty under The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996. Police will often liaise with the RSPCA and RSPB to aid prosecution of animal and bird offences.

Lethal control is only permitted under a general license and it is advisable to check with DEFRA for advice on dealing with 'pest' species.

Blackbird nest with eggs copyright Lizzie Wilberforce

Blackbird nest © Lizzie Wilberforce

Nesting birds

All British birds, their nests and eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, however some 'pest species' can be controlled under certain conditions by authorised people, such as crows or pigeons.

It is illegal to disturb birds during nesting season or to take wild eggs from a nest, for sale or as part of private collections.

Buzzard soaring against a blue sky copyright David Hopley

Buzzard © David Hopley

Raptor persecution

Birds of prey can be targeted due to the perception that they are pests, interfering with crops, farm animals and the breeding of game. They're often targeted and killed illegally with traps, poison or by shooting.

It is an offence for any person to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild birds, however not all traps are illegal so it can be difficult to tell if you find one. Interference with legally set traps or snares is an offence, so do not touch them.

Hedgerow covered in may blossom, running next to a track copyright Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Hedgerow covered in blossom © Chris Gomersall/2020VISION

Hedgerows

The Hedgerow Regulations 1997 make provision for the protection of important hedgerows. Landowners/managers must request permission from their local authority before removing a hedgerow. If you suspect a hedgerow is being removed illegally in Powys, it should be reported to Powys County Council.