A Wildlife Crime is any action which contravenes legislation governing the protection of wild animals and plants
In the UK this includes:
- Killing, injuring or taking wild birds
- Persecuting or harming ANY species of Bird of Prey - through poisoning, trapping, shooting, or the disturbance of any nest and/or theft of any chicks
- Taking, possessing, destroying or trading in wild birds eggs Damaging or disturbing the occupied nest of any wild bird Illegal trapping or snaring of wild animals
- Hunting ANY mammal with more than two dogs
- Hare Coursing - chasing and/or killing hares with dogs
- Badger persecution - including baiting, snaring, shooting and disturbance of setts
- Killing, injuring, taking or disturbing ANY species of wild bat or damaging or destroying a roost whether occupied or not
- Freshwater pearl mussel poaching - they are completely protected and it is an offence even to lift them off the river bed
- Disturbing or harming cetaceans - dolphins, porpoises, whales Stealing wild plants
Wildlife Crime does not include:
- Incidents involving domestic animals
- Wild animals that have been involved in road traffic collisions
If you come across a wildlife crime scene, for example a dead bird or object that may be related to a wildlife crime, every piece of information is, or might be, important. It needs to be recorded properly and accurately for the authorities to have a chance of prosecuting an offender.
Before you do anything, it is very important NOT TO:
- disturb the scene by walking around unnecessarily - small pieces of evidence (cigarette ends, footprints, the marks left by a spade etc) may be lost or trampled into the mud or grass.
- move any items at the scene - the exception being if they are likely to disappear before the police arrive when we can collect them as evidence.
- touch any dead birds or animals. They may be poisoned baits or victims of poisoning. Many poisons (eg Carbofuran) are extremely dangerous to you as well as wildlife in even very small amounts and can be absorbed through the skin.
- approach anyone you suspect of committing a crime - they may be violent and/or aggressive.
- do anything illegal - leave crime to the criminals!
Once you are sure that it is safe to do so:
Make a note of the date and time and take photographs or video of the scene using a mobile phone or camera. Or make as accurate a sketch as possible.
If photographing an object try to use a coin or a notebook for scale - providing it won't disturb the crime scene.
Note the location as accurately as possible, preferably using a grid reference. If the crime is in an urban area note the address or any other recognizable description of the location
If in the countryside take wide angle photographs of any landmarks (a tree, a distinctive fence line, a hill) that might help officers relocate the crime scene. Imagine you were trying to find the same site again - what information might you need?
If possible try to cover any items, say with vegetation, to make them safe - don't disturb the crime scene though!
Don't mark the site, for example with a white plastic bag. This may alert the offender that someone has found the site
Reporting a wildlife crime (or even a suspected wildlife crime) is important for two reasons:
- If the event is still happening, it may enable the criminals to be caught 'in the act', meaning a higher chance of prosecution
- If the event is over, a report can still help to build up a more accurate picture of what might be happening in a specific location or across the country as a whole.
If the crime or suspected crime is still taking place
- Call 999 immediately and ask for the Police. When you are connected to the Police, ask to speak to a Wildlife Crime Officer and make sure you get an Incident Report Number.
- Don't approach suspects yourself as they may react violently.
If the crime or suspected crime is no longer taking place
- Do not call 999 as this is an emergency number only.
- If you would like to call the Police, please use the national non-emergency number 101, or call your local police station.
- If you would prefer to get advice before calling the Police, you can contact the following:
- Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
- RSPB 01767 680 551
- RSPCA 0300 1234 999
- Scottish SPCA 0300 0999 999
- League Against Cruel Sports
Wildlife Crimewatch 01483 361 108