The policing of wildlife crime is a specialist subject as such West Yorkshire Police have appointed Wildlife Crime Officers (WCOs) who, along with their normal duties, volunteer to investigate wildlife offences. They also attend at and investigate linked crime types such as rural crime, plant theft (heavy machinery) and Heritage crime which includes theft from religious and historic sites.
Our West Yorkshire Wildlife Crime Officers (WCO) recieve specialist training in the investigation of Wildlife Crime Offences and supported by wildlife trained Crime Scene Investigators and partner agencies such as the NFU (National Farmers Union) RSPB, RSPCA, Angling Agency, Envronment Agency, the Wildlife trust and many more.
Wildlife is the native fauna and flora of a region. It includes all non-domesticated animals, wild plants and other organisms. The domestication of wild animals and plant species for human benefit has occurred over many hundreds of years, and can have a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative.
There are many laws in the UK, which are designed to protect both plant and animal species. Whilst wildlife law is complicated, most UK species of wildlife are protected, to a greater or lesser extent, by law. Examples of wildlife crime include badger persecution, illegal trade in endangered species, bat persecution, killing birds of prey and poaching.
Wildlife crime is committed when an offence under certain Acts of Parliament has been breached. Offences often involve cruelty and the unlawful killing of wild mammals and birds, some of which are protected species.
There are numerous Acts of Parliament that provide protection for wildlife in England and Wales. Some of the legislation that provides this protection is listed below but this is not exhaustive.
- Animal Welfare Act 2006
- Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006
- Hunting Act 2004
- The Countryside and Rights of way Act 2000
- Wild Mammals (protection) Act 1996
- The Protection of Badgers Act 1992
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Regulations 1994
- Control of Trade in Endangered Species (enforcement) Regulations 1997
- Deer Act 1991
- Protection of Animals(Amendment) Act 1988
- The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976
- Conservation of Seals Act 1970
- Protection of Animals Act 1911
- Game Licences Act 1860
- Game Act 1831
West Yorkshire Police are responsible for enforcing the above legislation within West Yorkshire. The Acts of Parliament outline a range of offences that can be committed. The Police Force will enforce the law when offences under legislation occur and in particular those offences in relation to:
- Unlawful trapping/snaring of wild animals
- Unlawful hunting of wild mammals
- Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild birds
- Taking/possessing/destroying wild birds eggs/nest disturbance
- Badger persecution
- Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild bats
- Damaging protected sites
- Unlawful poisoning of wildlife
- Stealing wild plants
- Unlawful hunting and poaching
- Unlawful trade in endangered species
- Disturbing cetaceans
There are cross overs between Rural and Wildlife Crime as many different types of wildlife crime have an impact on the rural community. For example, the offence of poaching, which largely occurs in rural areas, impacts on the rural community and their livelihood as it often incorporates antisocial behaviour, damage of crops during the pursuit of quarry and criminal damage to property in order to gain access to land. However, wildlife crime doesn't just take place in rural areas as there are a large proportion of incidents that occur in cities and more urban parts of the county.
If you need any advice or support please feel free to contact us via the email below or on our facebook page.
Please do not report any incident or crime on either of these. All reports must be made via 101 or in case of an emergency 999
- West Yorkshire Wildlife Facebook Page
- UK National Wildlife Crime Unit
- The Badger Trust
- British Association for Shooting and Conservation
- The Bat Trust
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network
- National Wildlife Crime Unit
Please note that by accessing external links you will leave the West Yorkshire Police website. West Yorkshire Police are not responsible for the quality, accuracy or content of external websites.
Page last reviewed September 2022