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What is a Wildlife Crime?

Brown Hare (c) D Waters

Wildlife crime can take many forms and it can be difficult to know what constitutes a crime. These range from organised crimes, such as the trade in endangered species, to people shooting at birds with air guns.

Below are examples of wildlife crime and if you believe you may have witnessed any of these, please share this information to assist in bringing offenders to justice.

If there is a wildlife crime taking place, call 999 or for a non-emergency call 101. If you would like to give information regarding a crime anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Badger Persecution

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.


Bat persecution

All bats, their breeding sites and resting places are specially protected by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. If bats are roosting in roof spaces it is unlawful to disturb or move them. Natural England can provide advice on bat mitigation licences if you need to disturb a bat roost. 


Illegible trade in CITES species

The illegal wildlife trade immediately brings to mind exotic species and it's true that the most commonly traded items are elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts and live animals such as primates and reptiles. However, wildlife from the UK is in demand abroad, including wild-taken birds that can be sold overseas.

If you see an CITES protected plant or animal species, live or in parts, for sale either online or in person, please do report it. 

Freshwater pearl mussels

This is an endangered species found only in rivers in Scotland and parts of England. It is an offence to kill, take or injure these mussels, or to intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a place which mussels use for shelter or protection.


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.  


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wildlife_crime_id_guide_2.pdf102.23 KB
wildlife_crime_related_acts_and_directives_2.pdf34.43 KB
useful_contacts_for_wildlife_crime_advice_2.pdf328.05 KB