Wildlife crime

Wildlife crime includes the illegal disturbance, destruction and theft of animals and plants in both urban and rural environments.

Any illegal act involving birds, animals or plants including their habitats is a criminal offence. Landowners can be held vicariously liable for the acts and/or omissions of their employees.

In October 2020, Police Scotland launched a year-long focus on identifying and tackling wildlife crime. There are seven wildlife crime priorities in Scotland including:

  • Bat crime
  • Badger persecution
  • Raptor (birds of prey) persecution
  • CITES (Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species) issues
  • Freshwater pearl mussels persecution
  • Poaching
  • Cyber enabled wildlife crime

We regularly provide advice on the relevant statutory frameworks and, if required, undertake criminal prosecution defence work on behalf of landowners, sporting syndicates, estate factors, gamekeepers and estate employees. We have substantial experience of the firearms and shotgun certification process and have acted in many appeals against revocation.

Our team is vastly experienced in this area. Examples of our work include acting on behalf of a landowner in relation to allegations of wildlife crime and vicarious liability in the Scottish Borders and on behalf of a gamekeeper at Jedburgh Sheriff Court in relation to charges in respect of illegal poisons and breaches of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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