Other animals and the law
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 are the main pieces of legislation that afford protection to animals.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act includes provision for the protection of certain wild animals as listed under Schedule 5 of the act, thereby prohibiting the intentional killing, injuring or taking, the possession and the trade in wild animals. In addition, places used for shelter and protection are safeguarded against intentional damage, destruction and obstruction.
There are also a number of European protected species afforded protection under the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations. This legislation makes it an offence to deliberately kill, capture, or disturb a European protected species, or to damage or destroy the breeding site or resting place of such an animal.
The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 provides protection for mammal species especially against acts of cruelty. An offence would be committed under this act if any person mutilates, kicks, beats, nails or otherwise impales, stabs, burns, stones, crushes, drowns, drags or asphyxiates any wild mammal with intent to inflict unnecessary suffering. There are a number of exceptions: killing of a seriously disabled animal as an act of mercy, killing of injured animals if quick and humane, authorised lawful killing e.g. for pest control purposes.
Other legislation that provides protection for wildlife, or specific groups of wildlife include:
- The Ground Game Act 1880.
- The Protection of Animals Act 1911.
- The Whaling Industry (Regulation) Act 1934.
- The Conservation of Seals Act 1970.
- The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
- The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.
- The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.
- The Deer Act 1991.
- The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.