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Animal Species

Volume 406: debated on Wednesday 4 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list for each animal species to which they apply the nature of the legal requirements upon the driver of a vehicle which kills one of the species; and if she will make a statement. [115712]

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. It is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird (Section 1). Under Section 5(1)(e) it is an offence to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the propose of killing or taking that bird.Certain species of animals, listed on Schedule 5, are also protected by the 1981 Act. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal included on Schedule 5, unless it can shown that it had not been killed or taken in contravention of the provision of the 1981 Act.Sections 4(2)(c) for birds and 10(3)(c) for animals provides a possible defence for the driver who may kill or injure a bird or Schedule 5 animal; because a person "shall not be guilty of an offence by reason of any act made unlawful if he shows that the act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided".Certain other animals listed on Schedule 6 of the 1981 Act may only be killed or taken by certain methods. It is an offence under Section 9(2)(e) of the 1981 Act to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a Schedule 6 animal.

Under Section 1(2) of the 1981 Act it is an offence to possess any wild bird unless it can be shown that it was killed or taken not in contravention of the Act. A similar defence exists for Schedule 5 animals.

Penalties for offences committed under Part I of the 1981 Act are a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence.

In addition the Deer Act 1991 makes it an offence in Section 4(4) for any person to (a) discharge any firearm, or project any missile, from any mechanically propelled vehicle at any deer, or (b) use any mechanically propelled vehicle for the purpose of driving deer.

It is also an offence under section 170(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 not to report an accident which occurs owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on the road by which damage is caused to an animal other than an animal in or on that motor vehicle or a trailer drawn by that motor vehicle.

("Animal" means horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog).

The maximum penalty is £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence, with between 5–10 penalty points on a licence or a disqualification.