Wild Animals

Deer Act 1991

The Deer Act 1991 makes it an offence to:

enter land in search or pursuit of any deer with the intention to take, kill or injure any deer without the landowner’s or occupier’s permission; kill deer (except farmed deer) during the closed season prescribed for the appropriate sex and species; kill deer between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise; use snares, traps, net or poison to take or kill deer; use arrows or any missile containing poison, stupefying drug or muscle relaxant to kill a deer; use a motor vehicle from which to shoot or project any missile at deer or to drive or kill deer, unless with the authority of the landowner of any enclosed land; sell deer meat unless a licence has been granted for the person to deal in game that has been acquired legally; remove a carcass without the landowner’s permission. The killing of farmed deer is allowed for farming purposes as is the use of certain weapons, any trap or net for the purpose of preventing suffering of an injured or diseased animal.

The killing of wild deer is allowed, subject to certain conditions, if the landowner has reasonable grounds to believe the deer of that species has caused serious damage to crops, growing timber or property on their cultivated land, pasture or enclosed woodland

Badgers Act 1991

The Badgers Act 1991 amended the original Badgers Act 1973 by providing protection (subject to certain exceptions) for badger setts. The original Act related to protection for the animals themselves but not their setts. This resulted in various anomalies and in many cases failed to provide adequate protection for the animals. The Badgers Act 1991 helped rectify this by making it an offence to intentionally damage or destroy a sett

Protection of Badgers Act 1992

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 consolidates the Badgers Act 1973, the Badgers Act 1991 and The Badgers (Further Protection) Act 1991. Under the legislation it is an offence to:

kill or injure a badger, except under licence;
sell, offer for sale or possess any dead badger or parts of a badger, unless it has not been killed in a way that is contrary to the law;
cruelly ill treat any badger;
use certain prohibited firearms;
dig for a badger;
damage/destroy a badger sett or access to it or disturb a badger in it;
use a dog to enter a badger sett;
tag or mark any badger except under licence

The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996

The Act makes it an offence to mutilate, kick, beat, impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drown, drag or asphyxiate any wild mammal with the intention to cause it unnecessary suffering. The maximum penalties under the Act are a level 5 fine (currently £5000) or a six month imprisonment.

The Act allows the courts to confiscate any equipment used in the offence and can order its disposal or destruction. The Act does allow exceptions in the areas of mercy killing if there is no reasonable chance of recovery.

Countryside and Right of Way Act 2000

Dolphins, otters and barn owls are among the wildlife in England and Wales which were given greater protection under this new law. It makes it an offence for the first time to recklessly disturb a “Schedule 1 bird” whilst building a nest or when it is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young. It also now makes it an offence to recklessly disturb a “Schedule 5 animal” or destroy any structure or place used for protection or shelter.

For example, it an offence intentionally or recklessly to damage a hedge, building or tree where a “Schedule 1 bird” is nesting or where any “Schedule 5 animal” is taking shelter.

Disturbing a whale, dolphin, porpoise or basking shark is illegal under the Act – for example making it against the law for jet skiers to chase and harass dolphins when they surface off the coast of England and Wales. People who dump non-native species such as green iguanas, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs or red-eared terrapins in the wild can also be arrested and prosecuted under the Act.