Wildlife Crime Ireland aims:

  • Basic information on wildlife crime
  • PAW Ireland involvement
  • Advice on Recognising & Recording a wildlife crime
  • Contact details for Reporting a wildlife crime

What is Wildlife Crime?

Wildlife crime is any act that contravenes current legislation governing the protection of wild animals and plants.

Any person who hunts kills takes or is in possession of a protected wild animal, wild bird or a specimen of protected wild flora otherwise than under and in accordance with a licence shall be guilty of an offence.



Restrictions on Cutting Hedgerows

Under the terms of the Wildlife Act, roadside hedge-cutting to destroy vegetation is NOT permitted on uncultivated land between the 1st of March and the 31st of August each year. 

It prohibits;

  • Cutting
  • Grubbing (Grubbing or clearing denotes the removal of trees, shrubs, and stumps)
  • Burning
  • Destruction of vegetation

The law aims to protect and maintain wildlife diversity by establishing areas where birds, in particular, can thrive during nesting season.

There are exceptions to the legislation such as works undertaken in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry, for public health and safety reasons – including road safety – the destruction of noxious weeds and the development of sites for building works.


Recent Prosecutions

€6,000 fine for a man who damaged nests and eggs of five different bird species

Brian O’Reilly, of Clonagh, Hollywood, pleaded guilty at Carlow District Court to five offences under the Wildlife Acts.

The offences took place on lands at Ballickmoyler, Co Laois between May 8-11, 2020.

The summonses involved the destruction of 54 mature hardwood trees and 1,200 metres of hedgerow vegetation; two related to the wilful destruction of nests and eggs of protected wild birds; and one related to procuring and paying others to participate in the violations.

As he described the damage to the hedgerows and the hardwood trees to Judge Griffin, district conservation officer Kieran Buckley of the NPWS, the investigating officer, stated that the sheer scale of the damage effectively killed off the local farmland ecosystem.

Twelve hundred linear meters of hedgerow vegetation had been completely destroyed, along with 54 mature hardwood trees. Nests of five hedgerow bird species had their eggs smashed or abandoned by their parents as a result of the damage.

He described this outcome to the judge as a significant blow for local farmland birds, notably when the state had declared a biodiversity crisis.


Free baby birds in bird nest portrait photo, public domain animal CC0 image.


Who is PAW Ireland?

PAW Ireland brings together statutory agencies, non-statutory agencies and interested parties with the common goal of combating wildlife crime through publicity, education and campaigning.

PAW Ireland objectives – to;

  • Raise awareness of wildlife legislation and the impacts of wildlife crime;
  • Provide a forum to facilitate the exchange of information & expertise on wildlife enforcement;
  • Help and advise on wildlife crime and regulatory issues;
  • Raise the profile of wildlife crime within the judiciary & statutory agencies;
  • Promote the use of forensic technologies to combat wildlife crime;
  • Make sure wildlife crime is tackled effectively


Find out more about PAW

PAW Ireland