What is wildlife crime?

Examples include:

  • Hare coursing
  • Using dogs to hunt wild mammals
  • Poisoning of animals, such as birds of prey
  • Disturbing or killing wild birds; or taking their eggs
  • Poaching of game, venison and fish
  • Disturbing, injuring or killing bats, and damaging or obstructing their roosts
  • Smuggling protected species and their parts (such as tortoises, rhino horn, ivory and caviar)
  • Illegally trading in endangered species
  • Taking protected plants from the countryside.

Dorset dog owners are being reminded of responsible dog ownership, including preventing dogs from chasing livestock and disturbing wildlife including ground nesting and overwintering birds. Please see the summary here from Dorset Dogs to highlight the important work they undertake.

You can read more about the work of Dorset Dogs on their website


People being cruel to wild animals

Examples include:

  • The illegal use of poisons, snares or explosives to kill or injure animals
  • Violence towards badgers, which includes being buried alive or being attacked by dogs.

In some special cases, killing or taking protected animals and plants is allowed, for example, when someone has a licence to do so.

Reporting wildlife Crime

If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action call 999 immediately and ask for the police. For all other non-urgent enquiries please contact Dorset Police here. For your own safety, do not approach suspects yourself or touch anything at the scene.

If possible, give information on: 

  • What is happening
  • The exact location (a map reference or local landmark can be useful)
  • The date and time of the incident
  • Who is involved (e.g. number of people, clothing worn, tools being carried, or any dogs)
  • The make, colour and registration number of any vehicle
  • If it is safe to do so take photos which may be used as evidence and remember to ask the police for an incident reference number.

Report Wildlife Crime

Dorset Police

Report Wildlife crime Anonymously


Legislation and enforcement powers 

Full summary can be found on wildlife trusts website

The Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

This is the primary mechanism for wildlife protection in Britain. This legislation covers four areas:

  1. Wildlife protection, including protection of wild birds, their eggs and nests, protection of other animal and protection of plants
  2. Nature Conservation, Countryside & National Parks
  3. Public Rights of Way
  4. Miscellaneous provisions 

Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 (C&RoW Act)

The protection of SSSIs (Site of Special Scientific Interest), already established in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, is strengthened in this legislation. The Act also allows for prosecution of third parties that damage or destroy a SSSI. Schedule 9 in the Govt’s C&RoW Act summary details the powers.


Full summary can be found at Legislation.gov.uk

The principal purpose of the Hunting Act is to criminalise certain forms of hunting of wild mammals with dogs, but it is wider than that and includes specific offences relating to hare coursing.