The current United Kingdom law regulating wildlife is spread over a collection of Acts dating back to 1831. The original purpose of much of the law was to govern activities such as hunting and fishing, including poaching. Over the years it has expanded to conserve certain species, ensure the welfare of wildlife and protect local biodiversity from invasive species.
The result is a legal landscape that is out of date, confused and often contradictory (e.g. the hunting, management and welfare of pheasants is governed by four separate statutes), older legislation is out of step with modern requirements, and the principal modern Act – the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – has been amended to such a degree that it is difficult for any non-specialists to use.
The proposals in the consultation aim to simplify the existing complex framework, placing wildlife law into a single statute. The new regime would reduce the current dependency on criminal law, by allowing an appropriate mix of regulatory measures such as guidance, advice and a varied and flexible system of civil sanctions – such as fines and bans.
Consultation on the draft regulations is open until 30 November 2012.
A copy of the consultation paper can be found at http://bit.ly/YowfHu