Wildlife crime | Suffolk Constabulary

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Wildlife crime

If you’re passionate about protecting the wildlife where you live, we need you to be our eyes and ears and report any suspicious activity to us.

If you have any information about wildlife crime or believe you have witnessed a crime taking place contact us on 101. If a crime is in progress, always dial 999.

If possible try to note down the following information:

  • date, time and location
  • descriptions of people you saw or vehicles they were driving
  • if there is anyone else in the area that witnessed the incident / individuals.

You can find further information on how you can help us tackle wildlife crime, and which animals are more commonly affected, below.

Deer

Wild deer are protected by law but due to the large number of vehicle collisions involving deer every year and the damage they cause to crops, land and fencing, their population is legally and humanely culled regularly.

Deer may be culled in season by authorised persons using the appropriate equipment during the day only. Muntjac are the only species of deer in the UK not to have a close season and may be culled all year round.

Deer poaching is a crime that is usually committed during the night and poachers often trespass on private land to get to the deer.

Birds

All wild birds, their eggs, nests and chicks, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The term 'wild bird' effectively applies to all native birds other than game birds.

It is an offence to recklessly or intentionally disturb a rare species at or near its active nest or its dependent young. The act also makes it an offence to:

  • intentionally take an egg of a wild bird
  • possess a wild bird's egg taken after the implementation of the 1982 Act
  • intentionally and recklessly disturb a rare species at or near a nest with eggs or young
  • have items capable of being used to commit offences.

Bats

The declining population of bats is protected by law and anyone convicted of offences could be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned for up to six months.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all 17 species of bats and their roosts in England, Scotland and Wales.

It is illegal to kill, injure, harass or disturb bats or damage their roosting place, whether this is deliberate, reckless or even done through a lack of awareness. It is also an offence to possess, sell or advertise a bat or any part of a bat.

Badgers

It is estimated that 10,000 badgers are killed every year through badger baiting.

Fully protected by law, badgers are one of shyest creatures in our countryside. They live in social groups in underground setts where they sleep during the day, only emerging in the evening.

Badgers and their setts are fully protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. You can be sent to prison and fined for:

  • taking a badger
  • killing a badger
  • injuring a badger
  • interfering with a badger sett.

Badger baiting is extremely cruel and the badgers suffer severe injuries before they are killed. The dogs used for baiting are often badly injured.

Badgers are also victims of other forms of illegal persecution including snaring, poisoning as well as instances of disturbance, damage and destruction of setts.

Hares

Hare coursing is a banned blood sport and is an illegal activity, yet it unfortunately remains common in Suffolk. It is the pursuit of hares using hounds and usually takes place toward the end of August or start of September.

The Hunting Act 2004 made hare coursing illegal and anyone convicted of the offence can be fined up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court.

The most obvious sign is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path. There will usually be estate cars, four wheel drives or vans.

Violent confrontations can occur when participants are approached by landowners or their employees and this means that rural communities can feel very intimidated by hare coursers in their area.