Pine Marten and Polecat Licensing
The pine marten and polecat are carnivores which receive different levels of protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). We can grant licences for certain activities that are otherwise illegal
Any survey work you had planned as part of a species licence application should only be undertaken where absolutely necessary following the latest social distancing guidelines from the government.
- Check the latest guidance provided by environmental businesses such as the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB or the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).
- As it may not be possible to update your surveys this season, this year we will extend this and accept surveys from the last three years.
- You should complete your survey at the first available and appropriate opportunity once restrictions are lifted.
If you have further question you can contact our species team via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pine martens are extremely rare in Wales. There are a few recent records from Carmarthenshire and Snowdonia, but the only specimen to be found in the last 40 years was a road casualty in mid-Wales in 2012.
The pine marten has a creamy coloured throat and a chocolate brown coat. It is an agile climber and needs suitable cavities in trees to raise its young. Pine martens eat small mammals, birds, beetles, nuts and berries. They rely on wooded and often rocky locations which tend to be remote from human populations.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) gives full protection to pine martens under Schedule 5. It is also listed on Schedule 6, which prohibits certain methods of capture and killing.
For Schedule 5 species, the following are offences:
- Intentional taking, killing or injuring
- Intentionally / recklessly damaging or destroying its place of shelter / protection
- Intentionally / recklessly disturbing it whilst occupying its place of shelter / protection
- Intentionally / recklessly obstructing access to its place of shelter / protection
- Sale, or offering / exposing for sale
The polecat had almost disappeared from Wales by 1900 because of persecution, but has made an impressive recovery since then. It has now spread throughout Wales again, although it remains somewhat elusive.
Polecats have distinct ‘bandit’ markings around their eyes and a brindled brown coat. They are adept hunters, able to catch rabbits in their burrows and even to swim. They are found in a variety of habitats including sand dunes, farmland, woodland and marshes.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) lists the polecat on Schedule 6. This prohibits certain methods of killing or taking animals, which are specified in Section 11. These include using the following:
- Any trap or snare, electrical device or poisonous / stupefying substances,
- Any net,
- Any automatic or semi-automatic weapon,
- Any device for illuminating a target / sighting device,
- Any dazzling device,
- Any gas or smoke,
- Any sound recording as a decoy,
- Any mechanically propelled vehicle
If you are setting traps to catch pest species, or under a licence from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), we advise you to read the following guidance notes: ‘Incidental trapping of Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 animals’ and ‘’Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 Relevant Sections’.
If you wish to carry out surveys / research that would involve offences under this legislation, you must apply for a licence from NRW.
NRW issues licences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act for specific purposes, so you can undertake certain activities without breaking the law. We can grant licences for the following purposes:
- Scientific and educational
- Ringing or marking
- Conserving wild animals or wild plants, or introducing them to particular areas
- Protecting any zoological or botanical collection
- Public health or public safety
- Preventing the spread of disease
- Preventing serious damage to crops, property, fisheries etc
We cannot issue licences for the purposes of development under this legislation.
If you need a licence from NRW, see ‘General information on applying for a licence from NRW’, ‘Schedule 5 and 6 application form’.