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Wildlife crime

Wildlife crime can and does occur anywhere where animals can go - this includes rural and urban areas. 

As a semi-rural county, we receive reports about poaching of deer and other animals, raptor persecution, offences against badgers and the hunting of animals including foxes. 

Wildlife crime takes many forms, from people shooting at birds with air guns in the local park to the more organised crimes of badger baiting and the trade in endangered species.

It can be difficult to prevent and investigate, as it quite often takes place out of sight of the public eye, but when a report is made officers from the Rural Operation Support Team take on the investigation of the crime. They also work with the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime.

Wildlife laws

We work with other police forces and partner agencies to tackle: 

Animal welfare issues are led by the RSPCA and they can be contacted on their 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 or visit their website.

Protected species of animals

It is an offence to kill or injure any wild animal listed in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, such as bats and water voles, both of which are found in Hertfordshire.

It is also an offence intentionally or recklessly to damage or obstruct any place used for their shelter or protection.  Offenders may be arrested and the courts have the power to impose a sentence of 6 months' imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both, for each animal.

All British wild mammals are protected from deliberate acts of cruelty under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996.  This means that it is an offence to: mutilate, kick, beat, nail or otherwise impale, stab, burn, stone, crush, drown, drag or asphyxiate any wild mammal with intent to cause unnecessary suffering.

Wild plants

A wild plant is any plant which is or was growing wild and is of a kind which ordinarily grows in Great Britain in a wild state. Plants include algae, lichens, fungi, mosses, liverworts and vascular or flowering plants.

Apart from being good to look at they are an essential part of the environment. They provide food and shelter and without them insects, birds and other animals would be unable to survive.

It is an offence to intentionally uproot any wild plant without the permission of the owner of the land on which the plant is growing. Uprooting is defined as 'digging up or otherwise removing the plant from the land on which it is actually growing'.

In the case of some rare species, it is also an offence to pick the plants, or to sell them.


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