Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c. 69)
1981 c. 69 - continued

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    An Act to repeal and re-enact with amendments the Protection of Birds Acts 1954 to 1967 and the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975; to prohibit certain methods of killing or taking wild animals; to amend the law relating to protection of certain mammals; to restrict the introduction of certain animals and plants; to amend the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976; to amend the law relating to nature conservation, the countryside and National Parks and to make provision with respect to the Countryside Commission; to amend the law relating to public rights of way; and for connected purposes.
  [30th October 1981]



    Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows: —
 
 
Part I
 
WILDLIFE
 
Protection of birds

Protection of wild birds, their nests and eggs.

        1.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally —
    (a)  kills, injures or takes any wild bird;  

    (b)  takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built; or

    (c)  compensation shall not be claimed in respect of any one holding both under such a lease and under the said subsection (1).

    (2) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person has in his possession or control—

    (a)  any live or dead wild bird or any part of, or anything derived from, such a bird; or ;  

    (b)  an egg of a wild bird or any part of such an egg, he shall be guilty of an offence.

    (3) A person shall not be guilty of an offence under subsection (2) if he shows that—

    (a) the bird or egg had not been killed or taken, or had been killed or taken otherwise than in contravention of the relevant provisions; or 

    (b) the bird, egg or other thing in his possession or control had been sold (whether to him or any other person) otherwise than in contravention of those provisions ;

and in this subsection "the relevant provisions" means the provisions of this Part and of orders made under it and, in the case of a bird or other thing falling within subsection (2)(a), the provisions of the Protection of Birds Acts 1954 to 1967 and of orders made under those Acts.

    (4) Any person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) or (2) in respect of—

    (a)  a bird included in Schedule 1 on any part of, or anything derived from, such a bird ;

    (b)  the nest of such a bird; or

    (c)  an egg of such a bird or any part of such an egg shall be liable to a special penalty.

    (5) Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally—

    (a)  disturbs any wild bird included in Schedule 1 while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or

    (b)  disturbs dependent young of such a bird, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a special penalty.

    (6) In this section "wild bird" does not include any bird which is shown to have been bred in captivity.

    (7) Any reference in this Part to any bird included in Schedule 1 is a reference to any bird included in Part I and, during the close season for the bird in question, any bird included in Part II of that Schedule.


Exceptions to s. 1.


        2.(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under section 1 by reason of the killing or taking of a bird included in Part I of Schedule 2 outside the close season for that bird, or the injuring of such a bird outside that season in the course of an attempt to kill it

    (2)  Subject to the provisions of this section, an authorised person shall not be guilty of an offence under section 1 by reason of—

    (a)  the killing or taking of a bird included in Part II of Schedule 2, or the injuring of such a bird in the course of an attempt to kill it;

    (b)  the taking, damaging or destruction of a nest of such a bird; or

    (c)  the taking or destruction of an egg of such a bird.

    (3) Subsections (1) and (2) shall not apply in Scotland on Sundays or on Christmas Day; and subsection (1) shall not apply on Sundays in any area of England and Wales which the Secretary of State may by order prescribe for the purposes of that subsection.

       (4)  In this section and section 1 "close season" means—

    (a)  in the case of capercaillie and (except in Scotland) woodcock, the period in any year commencing with 1st February and ending with 30th September;

    (b)  in the case of snipe, the period in any year commencing with 1st February and ending with 11th August;

    (c)  in the case of wild duck and wild geese in or over any area below high-water mark of ordinary spring tides, the period in any year commencing with 21st February and ending with 31st August;

    (d)  in any other case, subject to the provisions of this Part, the period in any year commencing with 1st February and ending with 31st August

       (5) The Secretary of State may by order made with respect to the whole or any specified part of Great Britain vary the close season for any wild bird specified in the order.

       (6) If it appears to the Secretary of State expedient that any wild birds included in Part II of Schedule 1 or Part I of Schedule 2 should be protected during any period outside the close season for those birds, he may by order made with respect to the whole or any specified part of Great Britain declare any period (which shall not in the case of any order exceed fourteen days) as a period of special protection for those birds ; and this section and section 1 shall have effect as if any period of special protection declared under this subsection for any birds formed part of the close season for those birds.

       (7) Before making an order under subsection (6) the Secretary of State shall consult a person appearing to him to be a representative of persons interested in the shooting of birds of the kind proposed to be protected by the order.


Areas of special protection.


        3.—(1) The Secretary of State may by order make provision with respect to any area specified in the order providing for all or any of the following matters, that is to say—

    (a)  that any person who, within that area or any part of it specified in the order, at any time or during any period so specified, intentionally—

       (i)   kills, injures or takes any wild bird or any wild bird so specified;
       (ii)   takes, damages or destroys the nest of such a bird while that nest is in use or being built;
       (iii)  takes or destroys an egg of such a bird;
       (iv)  disturbs such a bird while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or
       (v)   disturbs dependent young of such a bird, shall be guilty of an offence under this section;

    (b)  that any person who, except as may be provided in the order, enters into that area or any part of it specified in the order at any time or during any period so specified shall be guilty of an offence under this section;

    (c)  that where any offence under this Part, or any such offence under this Part as may be specified in the order, is committed within that area, the offender shall be liable to a special penalty.


    (2) An authorised person shall not by virtue of any such order be guilty of an offence by reason of—

    (a)  the killing or taking of a bird included in Part II of Schedule 2, or the injuring of such a bird in the course of an attempt to kill it;

    (b)  the taking, damaging or destruction of the nest of such a bird;

    (c)  the taking or destruction of an egg of such a bird; or

    (d)  the disturbance of such a bird or dependent young of such a bird.

       (3) The making of any order under this section with respect to any area shall not affect the exercise by any person of any right vested in him, whether as owner, lessee or occupier of any land in that area or by virtue of a licence or agreement

       (4) Before making any order under this section the Secretary of State shall give particulars of the intended order either by notice in writing to every owner and every occupier of any land included in the area with respect to which the order is to be made or, where the giving of such a notice is in his opinion impracticable, by advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the district in which that area is situated.

       (5) The Secretary of State shall not make an order under this section unless—

    (a)  all the owners and occupiers aforesaid have consented thereto;

    (b)  no objections thereto have been made by any of those owners or occupiers before the expiration of a period of three months from the date of the giving of the notice or the publication of the advertisement; or

    (c)  any such objections so made have been withdrawn.


Exceptions to ss. 1 and 3..


        4.—(1) Nothing in section 1 or in any order made under section 3 shall make unlawful—

    (a)  anything done in pursuance of a requirement by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or the Secretary of State under section 98 of the Agriculture Act 1947, or by the Secretary of State under section 39 of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 ;

    (b)  anything done under, or in pursuance of an order made under, section 21 or 22 of the Animal Health Act 1981 ; or

    (c)  except in the case of a wild bird included in Schedule 1 or the nest or egg of such a bird, anything done under, or in pursuance of an order made under, any other provision of the said Act of 1981.

    (2) Notwithstanding anything in the provisions of section 1 or any order made under section 3, a person shall not be guilty of an offence by reason of—   

    (a)  the taking of any wild bird if he shows that the bird had been disabled otherwise than by his unlawful act and was taken solely for the purpose of tending it and releasing it when no longer disabled ;

    (b)  the killing of any wild bird if he shows that the bird had been so seriously disabled otherwise than by his unlawful act that there was no reasonable chance of its recovering; or

    (c)  any act made unlawful by those provisions if he shows that the act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided.

    (3) Notwithstanding anything in the provisions of section 1 or any order made under section 3, an authorised person shall not be guilty of an offence by reason of the killing or injuring of any wild bird, other than a bird included in Schedule 1, if he shows that his action was necessary for the purpose of—

     (a)  preserving public health or public or air safety;
     (b)  preventing the spread of disease; or
     (c)  preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, or fisheries.
 
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