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Wildlife crime

We must protect wildlife in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.  Wildlife crime is one of the pressures facing our biodiversity.  Crimes against wildlife include:

  • the illegal trade in endangered species, which can pose a health risk to domestic livestock and to the public through the introduction of disease
  • damage to protected habitats and native species
  • cruelty to animals

The case for government action

Protecting wildlife contributes towards the EU target to halt the loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services, and to restore them as far as possible, by 2020.

Effective enforcement of that protection is crucial.  Government’s actions to reduce wildlife crime helps to:

Latest news

Key facts and figures

The current situation and background

Primary responsibility for enforcing wildlife law rests with the Police Service.  The UK Border Agency is responsible for import and export controls on endangered species. Defra supports enforcement through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime and also contributes funding to the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, who carry out annual strategic assessments of the criminality affecting UK wildlife and tackle serious wildlife crime including through coordinating multi Force, multi agency operations.

To find out how to help in the fight against wildlife crime see:

Relevant legislation and regulations

Many different pieces of legislation conserve or protect wildlife, principally by setting out offences, enforcement powers and penalties.  The main provisions are:

  • the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997, which regulate the commercial use of certain rare and vulnerable species in the UK;
  • the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which protect certain rare and vulnerable animal and plant species listed for protection in Europe;
  • the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which protects wild bird species requiring protection in Europe and rare or vulnerable native species of animals and plants not protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010;
  • the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which protects wild animals from unnecessary suffering when under the control of man;
    • the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996, which protects wild mammals from intentional cruelty.
    • the Protection of Badgers Act 1992

Key publications and documents

  • Details of conventions, Directives and implementing domestic legislation can be found on the JNCC website.
  • Other domestic legislation that protects wildlife – Natural England

Page last modified: 22 February 2011

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