Possession of wild bird eggs: Establishing the grounds for an offence

Closed 9 Dec 2014

Opened 14 Oct 2014


Possessing and taking wild birds’ eggs is an offence. However, until 2004, if a person charged with possessing wild birds’ eggs could show that the egg(s) had not been taken in contravention of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 they had a defence; known as the ‘Pre-1981 Defence’.

In 2004, to comply with the EU Wild Birds Directive, Defra and the Welsh Government amended the definition of "wild bird” in the 1981 Act.

This amendment also narrowed the defence to the possession of a wild bird egg offence, by requiring an individual to show that any egg in their possession had been taken from the wild before the Protection of Birds Act came into force in1954. This change was not fully consulted on and we are now seeking to rectify this by holding a public consultation on whether to revert back to the “Pre – 1981 Defence or maintain the “Pre-1954 Defence (introduced in 2004).


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  • Wildlife crime