Home Property Pest or protected? Removing animals from your property could land you £5,000 fine

Pest or protected? Removing animals from your property could land you £5,000 fine

9th Jul 24 4:49 pm

Homeowners have been warned they could be jailed and given an unlimited fine for removing protected animals from their property.

Experts from Quotezone.co.uk have warned homeowners of the animals which are legally protected in the UK.

There are a multitude of laws and legislation protecting native animals nesting and living in buildings and homes.

The protection of wild animals is covered under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it a criminal offence to kill, injure or disturb certain animals, or destroy a habitat while it is being built or used.

The person responsible for a breach of the act involving a single animal or habitat could be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine and up to six months imprisonment.

For an offence involving a barn owl, which could include disturbing the bird, its nest or an egg, perpetrators could be fined up to £5,000. They could also be handed a punishment of up to six months imprisonment, per bird, nest or egg.

Animals covered by the Act include badgers, beetles, dormice, frogs, grasshoppers, squirrels, toads and crickets.

Bats and their habitats are also legally protected, by both international and domestic legislation.

Deliberately injuring or killing a bat, intentionally or recklessly disturbing them, damaging or destroying a roost, and intentionally or recklessly obstructing access to a bat roost could be treated as a criminal offence.

The Bat Conservation Trust say bat related offences are arrestable, and anyone found committing an offence could be charged £5,000 and be imprisoned for six months.  Anyone who suspects they may have a bat roost should contact the trust for advice.

Homeowners should contact Wildlife Management and Licensing at Natural England for advice on dealing with birds and animals on their property.

Tiffany Mealiff, home insurance expert at Quotezone.co.uk said: “Damage to your property caused by animals can be tricky to get compensation for, insurance providers have their own stipulations and they vary depending on the animal in question.

“Incidents are normally classed as either preventable or unexpected, so regular house maintenance is essential to make sure any issues that are avoidable, are taken care of.

“If the wild animal is classed as a pest or rodent, such as a squirrel, fox or rat, then normally the damage is seen as preventable and unlikely to be covered.

“Wild animal claims per year are small in number, they normally fall under accidental damage or unexpected incident, such as birds falling down the chimney.

“Wild animal accidents such as this are likely covered by standard home insurance – if the homeowner has opted for accidental damage to be included, note it isn’t normally added automatically.

“There are major fines and penalties at stake if you endanger protected UK wildlife.  This means the presence of a protected species can quickly become a problem for homeowners.

“Removing protected species from a property could cause them harm, even if entirely unintentional – always call in the professionals to ensure you are following the legal guidelines and check your insurance covers accidental damage.”

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