Wildlife crime

The policing of wildlife crime is a specialist subject. North Yorkshire Police has appointed Wildlife Crime Officers (WCOs) who, along with their normal duties, volunteer to investigate wildlife offences.

Wildlife crime

WCOs are specially trained in investigating crimes against wildlife. They will either assist other police officers or take the lead role in the investigation of the more intricate cases, and can also offer training and advice to colleagues.

WCOs are dedicated police officers who have a personal interest in wildlife and wildlife crime. Not only do they investigate crimes but they are often seen giving talks to local schools and providing advice to the public alongside other organisations at the Great Yorkshire Show and other countryside events.


  • PC 1014 Bateson
  • PC 1405 Crossley

Hambleton and Richmondshire

  • PC 391 Wilbor
  • PC 1895 Davies
  • PC 1835 Mayes
  • PC 558 Sutcliffe


  • PC 1237 Jones
  • PC 820 Hickson

Scarborough and Ryedale

  • PC 931 Walmsley
  • PC 1923 Owen
  • PC 19 Marsden
  • PC 595 Bilton


  • PC 1238 Ward


  • PC 418 Green
  • PC 1564 Sutton
  • PC 1371 Atkins

Wildlife crime is committed when an offence under certain Acts of Parliament has been breached. Offences often involve cruelty and the unlawful killing of wild mammals and birds, some of which are protected species. Wildlife is the native fauna and flora of a region. It includes all non-domesticated animals, wild plants and other organisms. The domestication of wild animals and plant species for human benefit has occurred over many hundreds of years, and can have a major impact on the environment, both positive and negative.

There are numerous Acts of Parliament that provide protection for wildlife in England and Wales. Some of the legislation that provides this protection is listed below but this is not exhaustive.

North Yorkshire Police is responsible for enforcing the above legislation within North Yorkshire and the City of York. The Acts of Parliament outline a range of offences that can be committed. The police force will enforce the law when offences under legislation are perpetrated and in particular those offences in relation to:

  • Unlawful trapping/snaring of wild animals
  • Unlawful hunting of wild mammals
  • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild birds
  • Taking/possessing/destroying wild birds eggs/nest disturbance
  • Badger persecution
  • Killing, injuring, taking, disturbing etc. wild bats
  • Damaging protected sites
  • Unlawful poisoning of wildlife
  • Stealing wild plants
  • Unlawful hunting and poaching
  • Unlawful trade in endangered species
  • Disturbing cetaceans

The term 'wildlife crime' encompasses a very wide variety of offences. Find out more with the following in-depth guides.

Pages in this section

  • Working in partnership

    The enforcement of wildlife crime often involves and requires partnership with other agencies outside the police, including governmental and non-governmental bodies.

  • Hunting

    The Hunting Act 2004 creates a number of offences of hunting wild mammals with dogs, with some very closely defined exemptions.

  • Animal poisoning

    Lawful methods of pest control include the use of approved pesticides, provided they are used according the product instructions and placed lawfully.

  • Traps and snares

    Pest and predator control with traps, snares and cages is an essential part of farming and game management, and sometimes appropriate in the conservation of species at risk.

  • Poaching

    Poachers have scant regard for the countryside and none at all for wildlife and the farmer's land that they destroy.

  • Badgers

    Badgers have been the victim of unlawful persecution for many years and despite protective legislation they remain a target for criminals.

  • Bats

    Bats, their breeding sights and nesting places are protected by law.

  • Dangerous wild animals

    The keeping of some exotic animals as pets is strictly controlled when they are classified as dangerous.

  • Protection of wild birds

    Despite the fact that all wild birds are protected by law, birds are still persecuted and suffer cruel treatment.

  • Protection of plants

    All wild plants in England and Wales are offered some protection under the law.