The responsibility for the enforcement of the laws protecting
our wildlife rests with the police service. Wildlife crime takes
many forms, some of which involve extreme cruelty.
The main wildlife issues we are actively involved in
- Destruction of wildlife habitats
- Illegal trapping, shooting, snaring or
poisoning of birds or animals
- Badger digging/baiting
- Poaching of deer, game or fish
- Collecting wild birds' eggs
- Theft of wild plants
- Illegal international trade in
Cheshire Police sends officers on Wildlife Foundation courses to
train them to become Police Wildlife Crime
Officers. The officers who complete the course continue to
work as regular PCs, but are also specialists in their field who
can advise colleagues on wildlife policing.
As a matter of course, all calls received by Cheshire Police’s
call handlers on rural issues are passed directly to
the trained Police Wildlife Crime Officers.
Cheshire’s specialist wildlife officers also work in conjunction
with the National Wildlife Crime Unit to share
intelligence with other police forces and agencies. The NWCU
provides support for wildlife officers and investigations into
wildlife crime around the country.
If you suspect a crime has occurred:
- Do not disturb the scene by moving items or by
walking about unnecessarily.
- Do not touch dead animals or birds if you
suspect they may be poisoned baits or victims - most of the
substances used are extremely dangerous and you may put yourself at
- If possible, video or photograph the scene, or
make a rough sketch.
- Write down any vehicle registration
numbers - don't trust them to memory.
- Contact the police as soon as possible.
- Remember that some animals and birds can be
legally shot or controlled. Do not interfere with legally set traps
or snares or damage hides, high seats or shooting butts.
- Do not put yourself at risk: contact the police.
Cheshire Police investigate crimes involving badger
digging, illegal trapping,
snaring or poisoning. All badgers and their setts
are protected in law by the Protections of Badgers Act, 1992.
Anyone who takes, kills, or injures a badger or interferes with a
badger sett, can be jailed for six months or
fined up to £5,000.
Under The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 it is an
offence for a person to inflict
any unnecessary suffering on a wild animal by acts
including crushing, kicking and beating.
Police officers can deal with incidents relating to animal
cruelty. Although we often liaise with the RSPCA and RSPB, we can
prosecute for animal and bird offences.
Hunting remains a very emotive issue, but Cheshire Police treats
it no differently to other public order situations. Our priority is
always to minimise the impact of any disorder that does occur, and
to reassure the communities involved.
The continuation of hunt meetings is not illegal, unless the
Hunting Act 2004 is breached. A person commits an offence if they
hunt a wild mammal with a dog.
There are various activities that may appear to be hunting,
which are in fact not breaching the Hunting Act
2004. These include trail hunting, hound
exercising and flushing to guns. In addition, the hunting
of rabbits and rats is not illegal if it takes place on land owned
by the hunter or the hunters have the landowner’s permission.
It is not a police matter to determine what is or is not
hunting. This can only be determined in court. The role of the
police is to investigate alleged or apparent breaches of the
Hunting Act, to gather evidence, and to pass that evidence to the
appropriate authority to consider prosecution.
We encourage hunts to continue to inform the police of the
intended times, dates and venues of legal meetings. In addition, we
rely on members of the public to provide community
intelligence about meetings where disorder may occur or
where the Hunting Act may be breached.
All British birds, their nests and eggs are
protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, although
there are a number of 'pest species' that can be controlled under
certain conditions by authorised people. Offenders may be liable to
a fine of up to £5,000 for each bird involved or
up to six months imprisonment.
Certain rare animals, such as the water vole and otter, are also
protected by this Act. Bats and great
crested newt receive special protection under European
legislation. Offenders may be liable to a fine of up to
£5,000 for each animal involved or up to six
Apart from their aesthetic value, wild plants are an essential
part of the environment. They provide food and shelter and without
them, insects, birds and other animals would be unable to
All wild plants found in this country, are given protection
under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it
illegal to uproot them without permission of the
Illegal trade in endangered species
Endangered species, such as some parrots and
tortoises, are protected under The Control of
Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. They
can only be sold legally if the seller is in possession of a
licence issued by the Animal Health Agency. If you are considering
buying a tortoise or any other endangered animal, you should only
do so from a reputable breeder and you should ask
for a copy of the licence.