Wildlife crime is any act that contravenes current legislation governing the protection of wild animals and plants.
The main legislation dealing with the conservation (and protection) of wildlife is the Wildlife Acts, 1976, which has been amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2012 and all may be cited together as the” Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012″. The Wildlife Act, 1976 was further amended under the European Communities(Wildlife Act, 1976)(Amendment) Regulations, 1985 and various other Statutes.
The European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, which revoked the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997 and all amendments to those Regulations.
Other legislation governing the protection of wildlife includes the European Communities(Birds and Natural Habitats)(Restrictions on use of Poison Bait) Regulations 2010 , which restricts the use of poison bait, and the European Communities(Wildlife Act, 1976)(Amendment) Regulations 1986 , which allows Birds Directive Derogations.
The “Flora (Protection) Order1999” and the “Open Seasons Order” are among a number of Orders and Regulations which the Minister is empowered to make under various sections of the Wildlife Acts (Statutory Instruments)
DoE Frog licence is a blanket licence issued to schools for the taking of frog spawn under section 23 of the Wildlife Acts and is one of the many things that can be licensed to do under the Wildlife Acts, which would otherwise be prohibited.
Cutting Hedgerows is prohibited, with some exemptions, during the period beginning on the 1st March and ending on the 31st of August in any year under section 40 of the Wildlife Acts.
The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which is administered by the Dept of Agriculture and prohibits cruelty to all animals.
Links to these Acts and Legislation can be found on the
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) website
EU Directives are community legislation and member states are obliged to reflect their provisions in national legislation. The Birds Directive and Habitats Directive are mainly transposed into Irish law through the E.C. (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 and the Wildlife Acts.
The Whale Fisheries Act 1937 protects whale species and is administered by The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority protect our inland and sea fisheries. Legislation underpinned by 78/659/EEC (Fish Directive).
International Agreements such as the Bonn Convention, CITES Convention, Bern Convention, The World Heritage Convention, OSPAR Convention, Convention on Biological Diversity and Ramsar Convention when ratified by the Irish Government are usually implemented through current legislation. For instance, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is given effect in this State through the provisions of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
Northern Ireland situation
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) wildlife team are responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 and The Zoo Licensing Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003.
The Wildlife (Northern Ireland ) Order 1985 (as amended) is equivalent to Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in England and Wales and the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 in the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland’s local legislation was heavily amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (NI) Act 2011 (aka WANE) this requires that both pieces of legislation are read together, as an intergrated version is yet to be published.
Under the terms of this order The Department has the power to issue licences to permit otherwise prohibited actions to be taken to resolve problems where there is no other satisfactory solution.
The licensing system safeguards the conservation and welfare of wild animals but provides a way to allow action to be taken when necessary.
A basic introduction to Northern Ireland’s wildlife laws can be found in the publication;
Wildlife Law and You 2015