Birds and Trees
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the primary legislation which protects animals (including birds), plants, and certain habitats in the UK.
Definition of a Wild Bird
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, a wild bird is defined as any bird of a species that is resident in or is a visitor to the European Territory.
Game birds are not included in this definition (except for limited parts of the Act). They are covered by the Game Acts, which fully protect them during the close season.
All birds, their nests and eggs are protected by law and therefore it is an offence, with certain exceptions, to:
- Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird
- Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use or being built
- Intentionally take or destroy the egg of any wild bird
- Have in one's possession or control any wild bird, dead or alive, or any part of a wild bird, which has been taken in contravention of the Act or the Protection of Birds Act 1954
- Have in one's possession or control any egg or part of an egg which has been taken in contravention of the Act or the Protection of Birds Act 1954
- Use traps or similar items to kill, injure or take wild birds
- Have in one's possession or control any bird of a species occurring on Schedule 4 of the Act unless registered in accordance with the Secretary of State's regulations
- Intentionally or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird
The maximum penalty that can be imposed for an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, in respect of a single bird, nest or egg, is a fine of up to £5,000, and/or six months imprisonment.
For specific advice with respect to The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 please consult the Act itself, which is available from www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3614.