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Poaching is the illegal hunting of wild animals. It applies to the hunting of any wild animal but often deer, badger and fish are targeted.

Red Deer (copyright Amy Lewis)Hunting or fishing may be illegal because:

  • The game or fish is not in season.
  • The poacher does not possess a licence.
  • The hunter used an illegal weapon for that animal.
  • The animal or plant is on restricted land.
  • The right to hunt this animal is claimed by somebody.
  • The animal or fish is protected by law or has been listed as an endangered animal.

Often, other related offences occur whilst poaching such as trespassing.

Some legislation protects particular species such as badgers and deer, by making it an offence to cause them unnecessary suffering by certain acts.

Chub Fish (copyright Jack Perks)Poaching in its various forms is dealt with under several pieces of legislation, some of it old but still in use today.

Note: The criminal use of firearms in poaching and illegal hunting is also dealt with by the Firearms Act 1968 and, given the current climate of concern in relation to gun crime, is likely to attract armed response from the police and severe penalties from the courts.

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