Nationally Protected Species: Animals other than Birds

Animals other than Birds

England and Wales

Animals other than birds receiving protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act are listed in Schedule 5 of the Act. The level of protection is variable. For those species with full protection it is an offence to:

  • Intentionally kill, injure or take such a species
  • Possess or control any live or dead specimen, or anything derived from such a species
  • Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection
  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb such a species while it is occupying any structure or place used for shelter or protection
  • Trade in such a species

Species fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales include:

  • The water vole
  • Lesser silver water beetle
  • Marsh fritillary
  • Southern damselfly

Some species are offered partial protection only, for example, from killing, injury and selling (e.g. slow worm), some from selling only (e.g. common toad), and others from capture (e.g. white clawed crayfish). However, many of these species require consideration over and above their legal protection, as a result of planning policy.

The Act also provides protection to any dolphin or whale and basking shark from intentional or reckless disturbance. Separately, badgers are the subject of another important piece of UK legislation that can affect planning and development – the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. This makes it an offence to wilfully kill, injure, take or ill-treat a badger and to interfere with a sett (including damage, disturbance and obstruction).


As for birds, the protection for certain animals in Scotland is also provided by the Wildlife and Countryside Act but subject to slightly different amendments from those in England and Wales. Principal among the amendments which apply only in Scotland are the addition of the ‘reckless’ offence in relation to killing, injury, etc. and the addition of a harassment offence in relation to dolphins, whales and basking shark. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 also applies in Scotland.

Northern Ireland:

The protection given to certain animals in Northern Ireland is provided by The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended. It contains much the same offences as those in the Wildlife and Countryside Act, except there is an additional offence of damaging or destroying anything which conceals or protects a place of shelter used by an animal listed on Schedule 5 of the Order. As for birds, the protection for other animals was also amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 to create ‘reckless’ offences for all types of offences relating to the animal species listed on Schedule 5 of the Order. Species on Schedule 5 include badger, common lizard, pine marten, smooth newt and red squirrel. European protected species are not included on Schedule 5 of the Order; the protection for these is provided by The Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995, as amended.


In Ireland, the protection for animals other than birds is provided by the Wildlife Act 1976. The law prohibits hunting (with exceptions), injury, and wilfully interfering with or destroying the breeding place or resting place of any animal listed on the Fifth Schedule of the Act. The law includes a specific defence for those constructing a road or carrying out any other building and construction work, meaning that the unintentional killing, injury, etc of these animals are not offences if they occur as a result of such activity. The Fifth Schedule includes badger, hedgehog, hares, red squirrel and natterjack toad. The list of protected animals in Ireland is considerably shorter than that of Britain.

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