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Hunting and poaching

What is poaching?

Poaching is the illegal hunting of wild animals.  It applies to the hunting of any wild animal but often deer, badger and fish are targeted.

Hunting or fishing may be illegal because:

  • The game or fish is not in season.
  • The poacher does not possess a licence.
  • The hunter used an illegal weapon for that animal.
  • The animal or plant is on restricted land.
  • The right to hunt this animal is claimed by somebody.
  • The means used are illegal.
  • The animal or fish is protected by law or has been listed as an endangered animal.

Often, other related offences occur whilst poaching such as trespassing.

Some legislation protects particular species such as badgers and deer, by making it an offence to cause them unnecessary suffering by certain acts.

Fox hunting

Most hunts comply with the law but if you become aware of hunts that pursue live animals you should report this to the police.

It is an offence for a person to hunt with a dog unless exempt.  The exemptions are very closely defined.

The Hunting Act 2004 states that a person will be hunting a wild mammal with a dog if he engages alone or participates with others in the pursuit of a wild mammal, and a dog is employed in that pursuit, whether or not in their direct control.

Endangered species and conservation

In the UK legislation gives protection to wildlife and important habitats and sites.

Crimes against protected species include:

  • killing or taking them from the wild
  • collecting their eggs or skins for personal collections,
  • trading in them and taxidermy offences.
  • people destroying nests and breeding sites, bat roosts and other protected habitats can also be considered offences.

Contact the Police, Natural England, your local wildlife trust if you think an offence has been or is about to be committed.

Report it

If you see or suspect illegal hunting or poaching is taking place, please report it to us. Call us on 101 or report it online.  Call 999 in an emergency.

It may help us if you can answer any of the questions when reporting wildlife crime:

  • Are the suspect/s alone or in a group?
  • Are they trespassing?
  • Do they have equipment with them?
  • Do they have dogs or firearms with them?
  • Where are they going?
  • Where have they been?
  • What do they look like?
  • Have they any vehicles?
  • What are the number plates and vehicle models?
  • Can you safely get a photograph?

More help and support

Badger Trust

Bat Conservation Trust

British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Countryside Alliance

National Wildlife Crime Unit

Raptor Rescue

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

03 Apr 17 11:39 AM

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