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Wild animals


Answer

Organised pest control will keep the numbers of foxes down. There are many exemptions to the ban on fox hunting, primarily to protect damage to livestock, game and wild birds, growing timber, fisheries and other property. These exemptions allow the shooting of wild mammals (not just foxes) if certain conditions defined in the Hunting Act 2004 have been met.

Please see the links in Related Information for further information. There is also a link to the RSPCA website as they provide guidance on how to deal with any foxes in your area and how to deter their presence.


Answer

There are strict regulations with regards to bat conservation that you need to be aware of prior to starting any project of this nature. In England, Natural England can grant what is known as a European Protected Species (EPS) Licence, which may allow you to carry out the work subject to certain conditions. In Wales, the issuing authority is the Welsh Government (links can be found in 'Related Information').

In order to obtain the licence, you will need to gain the services of an Environmental Consultant who will help you to plan what will happen to the bats. Bats are a protected species and the licence will not be granted if there is no proposal included for re-homing the bats.

If work is carried out without consulting the above organisations, you may commit a criminal offence and could be liable for a large fine or a custodial sentence.

For more detailed advice on this subject please contact the Bat Conservation Trust, linked in related information.


Answer

As a European Protected Species (EPS ), there are strict regulations with regards to bat conservation that you need to be aware of prior to starting any project of this nature. In England, a government agency called Natural England offer advice on such matters and may arrange a visit your home to offer you the necessary help. Their advice may be to wait until the bats have left for the autumn to carry out your work, or to suggest the use of bat boxes to re-home the bats.

In Wales, the Welsh Government is responsible for monitoring any disturbance of bats and, like Natural England, they are able to grant a licence for work to be carried out in certain circumstances. You must not go ahead and carry out the work without first consulting the appropriate authority as you will be committing a criminal offence and could be liable for a large fine or custodial sentence.

For more detailed advice on this subject please contact the Bat Conservation Trust, linked in the related information section.


Answer

Care should be taken in buying animals or birds from adverts in the newspapers or online. Below are examples of steps that should be taken with respect to particular birds and animals.

Barn Owl - it is illegal to sell a barn owl that is not captive bred and close ringed. If you are thinking of buying a barn owl then it must be accompanied by an Article 10 certificate (issued by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) (DEFRA). The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) do not advocate the buying of owls as they do not make good domestic pets.

Bird of Prey - the same applies as with barn owls, the bird of prey must be ringed and accompanied by the Article 10 certificate. If the bird of prey is a Honey Buzzard, Golden Eagle, White Tailed Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Osprey, Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon or Merlin they must also be registered with DEFRA.

Tortoise – Depending on the species of tortoise you may again require an Article 10 certificate. If you are going to buy a tortoise make sure it is from a reputable breeder and a certificate (if required). Buying a tortoise is not as simple as it may appear as some are now endangered species. Please see the Tortoise Trust website in the related information, for further information on buying and caring for tortoises.


Answer

The RSPCA state that if the deer is uninjured it should be left alone and will more than likely wander back into an area of safety. If the deer is injured, then contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 who will be able to advise you.
However, in circumstances where it is likely that the animal or other road users will be placed in danger or injured, e.g. the deer is causing an obstruction on a busy main road, contact the police using 999 or the Highways agency who will deal with the situation.


Answer

Hare coursing is where dogs are trained and used to chase, catch and kill live hares. Hare coursing is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004. It is illegal to participate, attend, knowingly facilitate or permit land to be used for a hare coursing event.

If you believe hare coursing activity is happening on your land then you should contact your local police force using 101, if you suspect a crime is currently taking place then you should contact 999.

Please see the websites in Related Information for further details which include the Act and a glossary of poaching terms.


Answer

Badgers are a protected species, it is illegal to willfully kill, injure or take a badger, ill-treat a badger, dig for a badger, or to interfere with a badger sett. If you are convicted of one of these offences you could face up to six months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. It is also illegal to sell, offer for sale, possess, or to mark or attach a marking device to a badger, if convicted of one of these offences you could receive an unlimited fine.
There are certain situations where you may not commit an offence. Licenses to undertake some action may be issued by one of the following agencies;

• Natural England (in England); or
• Natural Resources Wales (in Wales)

See the website in Related Information for advice if there are signs that you have badgers in your garden.


Answer

Some animals are not included in the definition of 'animal' given in the legislation, so you are not required to report accidents with them to the police.

A dog (as well as a goat, horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep and pig) are animals covered within the remit of the legislation, therefore you are required by law to report any accident with these animals to the police.

However, if the animal you have hit is not listed above it may still be worth contacting the police to inform them of the incident. Additionally, the local authority will need to be contacted to remove the remains of the animal. Please see the website in related information to find your local authority..

Important: Badgers are specially protected and it is an offence to possess one, dead or alive, (without the proper authority), so if you kill one, leave it at the roadside. If you are concerned, as stated above, you can voluntarily contact the police.


Answer

All birds and their nests are protected to some degree under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. In most cases it is advisable, if possible, to leave the nest in situ until the nestlings have fledged. If the birds are in danger or there is a public health and safety, disease or damage issue you can discuss the situation with a Natural England Wildlife Adviser or Wildlife Licensing Unit on 0845 6014523 or email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk who can advise you on the best course of action.

If you are in Wales then you should contact the Welsh Government on 0300 062 2253 or email: natureconservation@wales.gsi.gov.uk. If the purpose of the disturbance is educational, conservational or scientific then the Countryside Council for Wales should be consulted on 0845 1306 229 or email: speciesprotection@ccw .gov.uk

It may be necessary to apply for a licence from one of the authorities above to move a nest. Disturbing a nesting site without a licence is an offence and can result in a fine or a custodial sentence.

Please note: it is not possible to issue licences to move birds' nests in relation to damage to property or to enable development/building works.

For more information in relation to obtaining a licence, please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

This sort of work should be avoided during the bird breeding/nesting season, which is generally between March and August, but can start earlier and extend beyond August depending on the species.
 
Such action is best carried out in the winter to maintain autumn food supplies for birds and other species of wildlife. Natural England Wildlife Advisers can provide specific advice.

For more information please see the websites in Related Information. 


Answer

It is an offence to disturb a barn owl while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young.

This species is one of the most common of all the birds specially protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and often nests within buildings where there is considerable potential for both casual and intentional disturbance. It is also a very popular bird with researchers and so there is significant demand for licences.

In England, a licence from Natural England to disturb barn owls is usually required by individuals visiting likely breeding sites in order to determine if breeding barn owls are present. The Welsh Government or the Countryside Council are responsible for issuing such licences in Wales. The only exception to the requirement for a licence is if observations are made from sufficient distance from the breeding site so as to avoid any risk that the birds will be disturbed. Entering buildings in order to check for the presence of barn owls is likely to result in disturbance and so should be licensed.

If buildings are visited in order to survey for other species, such as bats, then a barn owl licence would not be required (there is a separate licence required in relation to bats), unless information is available to suggest that barn owls are present and are likely to be disturbed during the survey visit. If this is the case then a licence should be obtained. For further information about wild birds and the law you should contact:

Natural England
Tel: 0845 6014523
Email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk

Natural Resources Wales 
Tel:  0300 065 3000
Email:  enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

For further information please see the links in Related Information.


Answer

A licence may be required. Bats are a European Protected Species (EPS) and, as such, it is an offence for anyone to injure or handle a bat, disturb a roosting bat or damage a resting or breeding place of a bat without a licence. You should contact the bat advice service for details and to find out the best time of year to carry out this kind of work and which chemicals are safe for bats:

Bat Conservation Trust Advice Line: 0845 1300 228

You may be able to get a licence to do an activity that would otherwise be illegal. 

Licences and further guidance can be obtained from the following authorities:

Natural England
Tel: 0845 6014523
email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk

Welsh Government
Tel: 0300 062 2253
email: natureconservation@wales.gsi.gov.uk

For more information and an application form for a licence, please see the Related Information.


Answer

Bats are a European Protected Species (EPS) and, as such, it is strongly advised that you contact the bat advice service before taking any action. It is an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by bats for shelter, whether they are present or not at that time.

Bat Conservation Trust Advice Line: 0845 1300 228

If it is necessary for bats to be excluded, licence application forms and advice should be obtained through the following authorities:

Natural England
Tel: 0845 6014523
Email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk

Welsh Government
Tel: 0300 062 2253
Email: natureconservation@wales.gsi.gov.uk

Application forms can be downloaded via the links in Related Information.


Answer

If bats are present you are likely to need a licence under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and to carry out mitigation to ensure that the bats retain their required habitat. Initially you will need to arrange a survey for bats with a competent consultant. The results of this survey should be made available to the local planning authority to aid them in making a decision on the planning application. Following discussion with your consultant, you should apply for a licence from Natural England if required before you can start work. For further advice you can contact the Wildlife Licensing Unit on 0845 6014523 or email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

Yes. Bats are a European Protected Species (EPS) and, as such, it is an offence to deliberately capture or kill bats, to deliberately disturb a bat or to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting site of any bat.

If it is necessary for any such activities to be undertaken, then the appropriate licence should be obtained through the following authorities:

Natural England
Tel: 0845 6014523
Email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk

Welsh Government
Tel: 0300 062 2253
Email: natureconservation@wales.gsi.gov.uk

For more information and to download a licence application form, please see the Related Information. A 'Management Guide' in relation to bats in churches is also available via the link provided.


Answer

Badgers and their setts are fully protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (as amended), whereby it is an offence to take, injure, kill or cruelly ill-treat a badger or interfere with badger setts. However, under this Act, Natural England may be able to issue licences to interfere with badger setts or, in rare instances, to kill or take badgers for the "purpose of preventing serious damage to land, crops, poultry of any other form of property", provided that it can be demonstrated that there are no practical alternatives that do not require a licence and that the proposed action is likely to alleviate the problem.

Where damage is not serious such as to flower borders or lawns, preventative measures will normally be advised, as licences are generally not issued in these circumstance. However, where there is a sett in a garden that is causing, or is likely to cause, serious damage, then licences can be issued to enable interference to the badger setts.

An application form can be downloaded using the link below:

http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/WML-A01_tcm6-9476.doc

You can contact the Wildlife Licensing Unit on 0845 6014523, or email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk; for further advice (please state your county or case number if your query relates to an existing case). When your application has been received a Natural England Wildlife Adviser will contact you and may arrange with you to undertake a site visit.

For more information, please see the Related Information.


Answer

Badgers often make latrines (faeces deposited in a small, dug out hole) to mark the boundaries of their territories. Although the risk of disease from badger faeces is considered to be low and of no greater risk than contact with the faeces of any other animal, it is advisable to remove or bury the faeces when they are laid in a garden, especially if the area is used by young children. If handling faeces, basic hygiene procedures, such as wearing rubber gloves and washing hands afterwards should be followed. There are no longer any approved chemical repellents to specifically deter badgers.

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

A badger entering an outbuilding is not uncommon and you should leave the door open to allow the badger to leave the building of its own accord. Other animals and people should be kept away during this time. If the badger is obviously injured or in distress, contact the RSPCA (see link in related information) who may be able to assist as may a local vet or badger group. It is unlikely that a badger will attack a human or a domestic animal, unless it feels threatened or trapped, but it should be remembered that injured or sick animals can behave abnormally.

You are advised not to approach or try to catch the badger. If the badger dies in the outbuilding, it is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to dispose of the body. If handling a badger carcase, at the very least you should wear gloves and wash your hands and any soiled clothes immediately afterwards. Please check with your local Council as to how the carcass can be legally disposed of.

Natural England may undertake to collect a carcase if there is strong evidence to suggest that the animal has been poisoned by pesticides; if you suspect this to be the case you should telephone the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800321600.

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

Dead animals found by the roadside are normally the result of road traffic accidents. If you do not wish to remove or dispose of the carcass yourself, your local Council (non-trunk roads) or the Highways Agency (Tel: 08457 50 40 30) (trunk roads such as main 'A' roads and motorways) may be able to offer assistance.

Natural England may undertake to collect a carcase if there is strong evidence to suggest that the animal has been poisoned by pesticides; if you suspect this to be the case you should telephone the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme on 0800 321600.

If you have any reason to believe that the badger was deliberately killed, then the matter should be reported to the Wildlife Crime Officer at your local police station.

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

Foxes can be a nuisance, especially in urban areas. Foxes only have limited protection under legislation, and they can be controlled without a licence, however only certain ways of doing this are permitted under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

It is illegal to kill them or attempt to do so, by using any kind of poison and this includes gassing compounds. Fox control generally requires expertise and experience.

You may wish to contact the Wildlife Licensing Unit on 08456014523 or email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk for further information (please state your county).

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

Lambs taken by foxes may have died of natural causes prior to being scavenged – it is worth trying to check this out before expending a lot of effort on control. There is a range of options to limit fox damage. Contact the Wildlife Licensing Unit on 020 8026 1089 or email: wildlife@naturalengland.org.uk and please state your county.

For more information please see the Related Information.


Answer

Fox hunting is illegal, it was banned by the Hunting Act 2004 in England and Wales and the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002.

There are exemptions in the Hunting Act to allow certain types of pest control, please see the link in 'related information' for details.

Hunts in England and Wales invented the activity of trail hunting after the hunting ban came into force. This is a non-lethal sport where the hunt follows a pre-laid trail rather than chasing a fox.

If you believe a hunt is using trail hunting as a cover for illegal hunting, this can be reported to your local police force. Some police forces also have an online wildlife crime reporting form.

If an illegal hunt happens on public land, you may wish to raise a formal complaint. Hunts may only use Forestry Commission or MOD land under a strict licence. Breaching that licence can mean the hunt are no longer allowed to use that land. Similarly, charitable bodies such as the National Trust, Woodland Trust or local charitable trusts or parish councils will take a dim view of law breaking on their land and may remove any 'sporting rights' they have given the hunt.


Answer

In general, wildlife crime is any action that contravenes current legislation governing the protection of the UK's wild animals and plants and includes:

  • Hare coursing.
  • Deer poaching.
  • Fish poaching.
  • Badger persecution – including baiting, snaring, shooting, and disturbance of setts.
  • Bat persecution.
  • Egg theft / collection.
  • Bird of Prey persecution – through poisoning, trapping, shooting, disturbance of nest and/or theft of chicks.
  • Trading in ivory, tortoises, rhino horn and other protected species covered by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) including caviar, Traditional Chinese Medicines, and orchids).
  • Non registration of certain birds and animals that require licensing through DEFRA / Animal Health if kept in captivity or sold.

Wildlife crime can be reported to your local police force via the 101 non-emergency number. Each police force has a dedicated wildlife officer / team, who investigates wildlife crime.

Please also see the websites in 'Related Information' for further information on this topic.

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