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Possession and sale of protected species

Possession and sale of European Protected Species (EPS) and UK protected species is illegal. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) can grant licences for appropriate purposes. General licences cover museums and taxidermists

During recent decades, successive UK governments have passed several Acts of Parliament to protect wildlife and their habitats. In addition, we have signed up to several European Directives and other international agreements, showing our global responsibility to protect Welsh wildlife. The legislation allows licences to be granted for specific purposes, so that people can avoid breaking the law. This page cannot cover all aspects of the law, but is an introduction to show how you can avoid committing an offence.

It is not illegal for you to possess a disabled protected species temporarily, in order to tend it and later on release it, as long as the injury was not caused by your own unlawful act.

European Legislation

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) makes it illegal:

  • To be in possession of, or to control
  • To transport
  • To sell or exchange, or
  • To offer for sale or exchange, any live or dead EPS which has been taken from the wild, or any derivative

Another international agreement is the Implementation in the Community of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES aims to regulate international trade in species which are endangered, or which may become endangered if over exploited. It lists species in three Appendices, according to the level of protection they need.

UK Legislation

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) makes it illegal to possess:

  • Any live or dead wild bird, or derivative
  • An egg of a wild bird or any part of an egg
  • Any live or dead animal listed on Schedule 5, or derivative
  • Any live or dead wild plant listed on Schedule 8, or derivative

There are similar offences relating to sale, offering or exposing for sale for Schedule 5 animals and Schedule 8 plants.

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 makes it illegal to possess or have under one’s control a dead badger, or any derivative. It is also an offence to have a live badger in one’s possession or under one’s control.

Powers to grant licences

NRW can grant possession licences under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended), the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and Protection of Badgers Act 1992. We grant these for specific purposes only, see European Protected Species Licensing and UK Protected Species Licensing for more information. The application form is attached below: ‘Possession – application for a licence’. To apply for a licence to sell or exchange a protected species, see ‘Sale or exchange application form’.

There are two general licences covering possession. One is only for full members of the Guild of Taxidermists: see ‘Taxidermy General Licence for Possession’. The other is for museums, educational establishments and a few other organisations listed on the licence: see ‘Museums General Licence for Possession’.

The Deer Act 1991 puts restrictions on methods of killing and taking deer. Sale of venison is licensed under the Game Act 1831 and the Game Licences Act 1860, and is not dealt with by NRW.

Related document downloads

Possession application for a Licence Possession of Annex IV Species of the Habitats Directive WORD [1.5 MB]

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