A1 A2 A3 A4
E-law - Wildlife and Nature - Seal

Protected species (national)

The main provision for the protection of species in Great Britain is Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended. Amongst other things, the Act makes it a criminal offence to:

  • intentionally kill, injure or take a wild bird or animal;
  • be in possession of any wild bird or animal or anything derived from them;
  • sell or offer for sale wild birds or their eggs;
  • intentionally or recklessly damage or destroy a nest, or place of shelter or rest for wild animals
  • intentionally pick, uproot or destroy wild plants.

The offence is subject to exceptions and defences. These are set out in the Act.

The measures apply to the birds & animals listed in Schedule 5 to the Act, and to the plants in Schedule 8. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee reviews both Schedules every five years and recommends appropriate changes to the relevant Ministers. In Northern Ireland the equivalent provisions are provided by the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 as amended.

It is also an offence to introduce new species into the wild or release species listed in Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 as amended.

More information about wildlife offences is available here.

There is also specific and separate legislation relating to deer, seals and badgers as well as generic laws such as the Sea Fisheries (Wildlife Conservation) Act 1992 and the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.

Note that the pages on European Protection of Nature and Wildlife and International Protection of Nature and Wildlife refer to additional national legislation that gives effect to European and International laws concerning wildlife protection.

UKELA is not responsible for the content of external internet sites