Protection of species of wild animals

The legislation in the United Kingdom prohibits the killing, injuring, taking or selling of those wild animals listed on the appropriate Schedule. This legislation applies to land (including land covered by water) and to territorial waters. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place which such an animal uses for shelter, protection or breeding, except within a dwelling-house. In the case of bats this offence extends to dwelling houses, other than the living areas, and the advice of the appropriate statutory nature conservation agency should be sought prior to any such damage or obstruction, and the advice followed. In Great Britain, it is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb a dolphin, whale (cetacean) or basking shark.
 
It is not an offence to take a disabled protected animal for the purpose of tending it and returning it to the wild or to kill such an animal if there is no reasonable chance of recovery. It is a defence to show that an act was the result of an otherwise lawful action and could not reasonably have been avoided, except in relation to bats where, other than in the living area of a dwelling house, the advice of the appropriate statutory nature conservation agency needs to be sought.
 
Certain methods of killing or taking wild animals are prohibited. In Great Britain, it is an offence to use any self-locking snare, bow, crossbow, explosives or decoys for the purpose of causing bodily harm, killing or taking any wild animal. A person who sets a snare of a type which is otherwise legal but calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild animal coming into contact with it, must ensure that the snare is inspected at least once a day. In Scotland, it is also an offence to sell a self-locking snare, or to possess one without reasonable excuse.
 
It is also an offence to use any trap, snare, net, electrical device, poisoned or stupefying substance to intentionally harm, kill or take any wild animal listed under the appropriate Schedule, and it is prohibited for a person to kill or take any such animal listed using automatic or semi-automatic weapons, smoke, gas, artificial lights, mirrors, sound recordings or decoys, any mechanically propelled vehicles in immediate pursuit of a protected wild animal for the purpose of driving, killing or taking the animal.
 
Certain methods of killing, harming or taking of wild animals, which are prohibited in Great Britain, are also prohibited in Northern Ireland. Not only is the use of self-locking snares prohibited, their sale is also prohibited if the person knows it is for an unlawful act. Additions to the prohibited methods of killing, harming or taking animals in Northern Ireland are the use of any springe, gin, hook and line, metal bar, axe, hatchet, cudgel, hammer or muscle-relaxing agent.
 
In the United Kingdom, acts which are prohibited under the legislation can be authorised by a licence issued by the appropriate authority for the purpose of science, education, conservation and photography, or to preserve public health or safety, to prevent the spread of disease or to prevent serious damage to livestock, crops, growing timber, property or fisheries
 
In Great Britain, the appropriate Minister can add species of wild animals to and remove animals from the Schedules where the Secretary of State considers it is appropriate to do so. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee is required to advise the Secretary of State, every five years, whether any species of wild animals in Great Britain should be added to, or removed from the Schedule. In Northern Ireland the power to add or remove any species of animals to or from the relevant Schedule lies with the Department of the Environment, who must consult the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside before changes can be made.
 
In the United Kingdom, wild animals are also protected by European legislation, and there are additional species of animals which may not be taken or killed using certain methods, which are listed on the appropriate Schedule. Some of the species are similar to those which are protected by the UK legislation. However additional protection is provided for the Mountain Hare and several species of fish and seals.
 
The appropriate authority responsible for the granting of licenses in Great Britain, for the purpose of scientific, educational or conservation, for ringing or marking, the protection of zoological or botanical collections, or for photography is the appropriate statutory nature conservation agency, (Natural England (formally Natural England) in England, Scottish Natural Heritage in Scotland and the Countryside Council for Wales in Wales). The appropriate Minister is the responsible authority for licences relating to the sale of protected wild animals. The authority responsible for issuing licences to prevent serious damage to livestock, crops, growing timber or other property, or to fisheries, is the agriculture Minister. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Environment and the Environment and Heritage Service are responsible for the granting of all licences, in relation to wild animals.
 
Certain species of wild mammals are protected under their own legal provisions, including badgers, deer and seals. There is also a prohibition on whaling in all UK waters.
 
 
The legislative provisions in Great Britain for the protection of wild animals are contained primarily in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, Sections 9-12, the wild animals which are protected are listed in Schedules 5-7 of the Act and the provisions for the granting of licenses and enforcement are set out in Sections 16-27. In England and Wales, enforcement provisions were extended and some amendments for protection made by the Countryside Rights of Access Act 2000 Section 81 and Schedule 12.
 
In Scotland, enforcement provisions were extended and some amendments for protection made by Section 50 and Schedule 6 of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004. Specific legislation for protecting badgers is provided by the Badgers Act, 1992 (amended, for Scotland, by the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004), for wild deer in the Deer Act, 1963 (amended by the Deer Act, 1991), and for seals in the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. The close season for seals in (some areas of) Scotland was extended by the Conservation of Seals (Scotland) Order 2002.
 
In Northern Ireland, the legal provisions are set out in the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order, 1985 (amended 1995), Articles 10-13 and 16-29, and the protected wild animals are listed on Schedules 5-7. The protection of European animal species in Great Britain is covered by the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations, 1994, Part II, Regulations 38-41 and Schedules 2-3 and in Northern Ireland provisions for European species are laid down in the Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (NI) 1995, Part II, Regulations 33-36 and Schedules 2-3. Whaling in UK waters is prohibited by the Whaling Industry (Regulations) Act 1934, as amended by the Fishing Limits Act, 1981.
 

JNCC has collated information on conservation designations for UK taxa, and the list is available to download as a spreadsheet.