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.

Rural & Wildlife Newsletter


Wildlife Information

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    Suffolk is lucky enough to be home to 5 of the 6 UK deer species.

    Wild deer are protected by law but due to their increasing population, they are managed to protect crops and for the welfare of the deer themselves.

    This should be carried out in a humane way, with the Deer Act 1991 setting out legal requirements to allow this to happen.

    Deer culling can only be carried out during daylight hours, with a deer legal calibre firearm, the target species has to be within its lawful shooting season and with the landowner’s permission. Of course, with any legislation there are exemptions and more information can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/54/contents

    We do have incidents of deer poaching in Suffolk, this can be people shooting deer at night or individuals that use dogs to chase down and kill deer in an extremely inhumane way. If you witness deer poaching and it is currently happening, or you believe it is, please dial 999 straight away, giving as much information as you can without putting yourself at risk. If you have information you would like to pass to police that is non-urgent, please call 101 or send an email to [email protected]

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    All wild birds, their eggs, nests and chicks, are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

    The act makes it an offence to:

    • Intentionally kill, injure or take any wild bird.
    • Intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built.
    • Intentionally take or destroy the egg of any wild bird.
    • Have in one’s possession or control any wild bird, dead or alive, or any part of a wild bird, which has been taken in contravention of the Act or the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
    • Have in one’s possession or control any egg or part of an egg, which has been taken in contravention of the Act or the Protection of Birds Act 1954.
    • Use traps or similar items to kill, injure or take wild birds.
    • Have in one’s possession or control any bird of a species occurring on Schedule 4 of the Act unless registered, and in most cases ringed, in accordance with the secretary of State’s regulations.
    • Intentionally or recklessly disturb any wild bird listed on Schedule 1 while it is nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, or disturb the dependent young of such a bird.

    Every year we receive reports that farmers, neighbours, contractors are cutting hedges in nesting season. This is not an offence if they have not breached any of the above legislation.

    For more detailed information, please visit:


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    There are 17 species of bats in the UK and their population is in decline.

    All bat species, their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law – they’re European protected species.

    You may be able to get a licence from Natural England if you cannot avoid disturbing them or damaging their habitats, or if you want to survey or conserve them.

    What you must not do:

    • Deliberately capture, injure or kill bats
    • Damage or destroy a breeding or resting place
    • Obstruct access to their resting or sheltering places
    • Possess, sell, control or transport live or dead bats, or parts of them
    • Intentionally or recklessly disturb a bat while it’s in a structure or place of shelter or protection

    If you are found guilty of any of these offences, you could be imprisoned for up to 6 months and / or receive an unlimited fine.

    For further information please visit:


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    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.

    What you must not do:

    • intentionally capture, kill or injure a badger
    • damage, destroy or block access to their setts
    • disturb badgers in setts
    • treat a badger cruelly
    • deliberately send or intentionally allow a dog into a sett
    • bait or dig for badgers
    • have or sell a badger, or offer a live badger for sale
    • have or possess a dead badger or parts of a badger (if you got it illegally)
    • mark or attach a marking device to a badger

    If you are found guilty of any of these offences, you could be imprisoned for up to 6 months and / or receive an unlimited fine.

    For more information, please visit:


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    Hare coursing
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    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 from around August to April.

    The Hunting Act 2004 made hare coursing illegal and anyone convicted of the offence can receive an unlimited fine and 6 months in prison. There are other pieces of legislation that cover hare coursing, such as the Game Act 1831 and Night Poaching Act 1828.

    Offenders, usually 3-4 with sight hounds will line out in a field with the dogs on leads and walk across in search of hares. If a hare breaks cover the dog is slipped (released from a slip lead) and encouraged to chase the hare. Traditionally the idea was to see which dog could make the hare make more turns, although nowadays it is more often than not, about which dog manages to catch and kill the hare quickest. Sometimes the pursuit is filmed and live streamed back to gambling rings as far away as China. Offenders will generally use at least two vehicles, mainly high powered 4x4’s such as Mercedes ML’s and Subaru Foresters, which they will take onto the fields. They will try to evade capture at all costs, often driving at police and the general public, showing no regard to anyone else.

    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.

    If you witness hare coursing, please dial 999 straight away and give as much detail as possible, without putting yourself at risk.

    For more information on the latest legislation, please visit:


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    The Hunting Act 2004 was introduced on 18th February 2005 and made it illegal to hunt wild mammals with dogs. There are however exemptions to this, with the main one we see used in Suffolk being the “falconry exemption”. This permits hunts to flush wild mammals, namely foxes, from cover and to use a suitable bird of prey to capture and dispatch the fox.

    Trail hunting is also used in Suffolk. Usually, a fox based substance is used on a piece of cloth and dragged across a determined route prior to the hounds and horses setting off on the trail.

    Hunting still remains a very divisive subject and we see a strong contingent of hunt saboteurs and monitors attend hunts in the county, which often leads to confrontation and offences from both sides.

    If you witness any ongoing offences at a hunt, please call 999 immediately.

    For further in-depth information, please visit https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/hunting-act-2004#:

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    Fish poaching seems to be on the rise in Suffolk and whilst on the face of it, it can appear to be a low level crime, it can and does have an impact on peoples livelihoods. Offenders will either use nets, where large amounts of fish can be cleared out of rivers and lakes in an indiscriminate way, or by line fishing where the offenders can be more specific. Either way, it is still theft if it occurs on a club water and should you witness it happening, please call 999 or 101 / online report if it has previously happened. If you would like to give some information about suspected poaching, please email the Rural & Wildlife Policing Team (RAWPT) – [email protected]

    Op Traverse

    Operation Traverse is the current operation targeting fish poaching and any illegal fishing. The team regularly conducts joint patrols with the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust to check rod licences and any illegal activity.