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Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

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5 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild birds.E+W

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

(a)sets in position any of the following articles, being an article which is of such a nature and is so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming into contact therewith, that is to say, any springe, trap, gin, snare, hook and line, any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening or any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance;

(b)uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird any such article as aforesaid, whether or not of such a nature and so placed as aforesaid, or any net, baited board, bird-lime or substance of a like nature to bird-lime;

(c)uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird—

(i)any bow or crossbow;

(ii)any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm;

(iii)any automatic or semi-automatic weapon;

(iv)any shot-gun of which the barrel has an internal diameter at the muzzle of more than one and three-quarter inches;

(v)any device for illuminating a target or any sighting device for night shooting;

(vi)any form of artificial lighting or any mirror or other dazzling device;

(vii)any gas or smoke not falling within paragraphs (a) and (b); or

(viii)any chemical wetting agent;

(d)uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird, any sound recording or any live bird or other animal whatever which is tethered, or which is secured by means of braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured; F2 . . .

(e)uses any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the purpose of killing or taking that bird, [F3 ; or

(f)knowingly causes or permits to be done an act which is mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this subsection and which is not lawful under subsection (5),]

he shall be guilty of an offenceF4. . . .

(2)Subject to subsection (3), the Secretary of State may by order, either generally or in relation to any kind of wild bird specified in the order, amend subsection (1) by adding any method of killing or taking wild birds or by omitting any such method which is mentioned in that subsection.

(3)The power conferred by subsection (2) shall not be exerciseable, except for the purpose of complying with an international obligation, in relation to any method of killing or taking wild birds which involves the use of a firearm.

(4)In any proceedings under subsection (1)(a) it shall be a defence to show that the article was set in position for the purpose of killing or taking, in the interests of public health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries or nature conservation, any wild animals which could be lawfully killed or taken by those means and that he took all reasonable precautions to prevent injury thereby to wild birds.

F5 [( 4A )In any proceedings under subsection (1)(f) relating to an act which is mentioned in subsection (1)(a) it shall be a defence to show that the article was set in position for the purpose of killing or taking, in the interests of public health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries or nature conservation, any wild animals which could be lawfully killed or taken by those means and that he took or caused to be taken all reasonable precautions to prevent injury thereby to wild birds.]

(5)Nothing in subsection (1) shall make unlawful—

(a)the use of a cage-trap or net by an authorised person for the purpose of taking a bird included in Part II of Schedule 2;

(b)the use of nets for the purpose of taking wild duck in a duck decoy which is shown to have been in use immediately before the passing of the M1Protection of Birds Act 1954; or

(c)the use of a cage-trap or net for the purpose of taking any game bird if it is shown that the taking of the bird is solely for the purpose of breeding;

but nothing in this subsection shall make lawful the use of any net for taking birds in flight or the use for taking birds on the ground of any net which is projected or propelled otherwise than by hand.

Extent Information

E1This version of this provision extends to England and Wales only; a separate version has been created for Scotland only

Textual Amendments

F2Word "or" in s. 5(1)(d) omitted (25.9.1991) by virtue of Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991 (c. 39, SIF 4:5), ss. 1(2), 3(3).

F3Word "or" and s. 5(1)(f) inserted (25.9.1991) by Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991 (c. 39, SIF 4:5), ss. 1(3), 3(3).

F4Words in s. 5(1) repealed (30.1.2001 for E.W. and 26.3.2002 for S.) by 2000 c. 37, ss. 102, 103(2), Sch. 16 Pt. IV (with Sch. 12 para. 10(6)) and by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 7), ss. 86, 89(2)(d), Sch. 5

Marginal Citations

5 Prohibition of certain methods of killing or taking wild birds.S

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

(a)sets in position any of the following articles, being an article which is of such a nature and is so placed as to be [F6likely] to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming into contact therewith, that is to say, any springe, trap, gin, snare, hook and line, any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening or any poisonous, poisoned or stupefying substance;

(b)uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird any such article as aforesaid, whether or not of such a nature and so placed as aforesaid, or any net, baited board, bird-lime or substance of a like nature to bird-lime;

(c)uses for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird—

(i)any bow or crossbow;

(ii)any explosive other than ammunition for a firearm;

(iii)any automatic or semi-automatic weapon;

(iv)any shot-gun of which the barrel has an internal diameter at the muzzle of more than one and three-quarter inches;

(v)any device for illuminating a target or any sighting device for night shooting;

(vi)any form of artificial lighting or any mirror or other dazzling device;

(vii)any gas or smoke not falling within paragraphs (a) and (b); or

(viii)any chemical wetting agent;

(d)uses as a decoy, for the purpose of killing or taking any wild bird, any sound recording or any live bird or other animal whatever which is tethered, or which is secured by means of braces or other similar appliances, or which is blind, maimed or injured; F2 . . .

(e)uses any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the purpose of killing or taking that bird, [F3 ; or

(f)knowingly causes or permits to be done an act which is mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this subsection and which is not lawful under subsection (5),]

he shall be guilty of an offenceF4. . . .

(2)Subject to subsection (3), the Secretary of State may by order, either generally or in relation to any kind of wild bird specified in the order, amend subsection (1) by adding any method of killing or taking wild birds or by omitting any such method which is mentioned in that subsection.

(3)The power conferred by subsection (2) shall not be exerciseable, except for the purpose of complying with an international obligation, in relation to any method of killing or taking wild birds which involves the use of a firearm.

(4)In any proceedings under subsection (1)(a) it shall be a defence to show that the article was set in position for the purpose of killing or taking, in the interests of public health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries or nature conservation, any wild animals which could be lawfully killed or taken by those means and that he took all reasonable precautions to prevent injury thereby to wild birds.

F5 [( 4A )In any proceedings under subsection (1)(f) relating to an act which is mentioned in subsection (1)(a) it shall be a defence to show that the article was set in position for the purpose of killing or taking, in the interests of public health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries or nature conservation, any wild animals which could be lawfully killed or taken by those means and that he took or caused to be taken all reasonable precautions to prevent injury thereby to wild birds.]

(5)Nothing in subsection (1) shall make unlawful—

(a)F7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(b)F7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(c)the use of a cage-trap or net for the purpose of taking any [F8grouse, mallard, partridge or pheasant included in Part I of Schedule 2] if it is shown that the taking of the bird is solely for the purpose of breeding;

but nothing in this subsection shall make lawful the use of any net for taking birds in flight or the use for taking birds on the ground of any net which is projected or propelled otherwise than by hand.

Extent Information

E2This version of this provision extends to Scotland only; a separate version has been created for England and Wales only

Textual Amendments

F2Word "or" in s. 5(1)(d) omitted (25.9.1991) by virtue of Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991 (c. 39, SIF 4:5), ss. 1(2), 3(3).

F3Word "or" and s. 5(1)(f) inserted (25.9.1991) by Wildlife and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991 (c. 39, SIF 4:5), ss. 1(3), 3(3).

F4Words in s. 5(1) repealed (30.1.2001 for E.W. and 26.3.2002 for S.) by 2000 c. 37, ss. 102, 103(2), Sch. 16 Pt. IV (with Sch. 12 para. 10(6)) and by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 7), ss. 86, 89(2)(d), Sch. 5

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