Wildlife legislation has evolved in the UK to promote the conservation of certain species. It generally prevents the deliberate killing, injuring or taking of a protected wild animal, and puts in place provisions for protected animals to be taken, for specific purposes, and/or at specific times. Although there have been Acts protecting some game species, the first main piece of conservation legislation in the UK was the Protection of Wild Birds Act 1954, revised in 1967. Over time, it became apparent that other species required protection and the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975 came into being. It was then felt that these pieces of legislation should be consolidated into one new piece of legislation, and so the Wildlife and Countryside Act was born in 1981. European legislation has also been an important driver of domestic legislation; the Conservation of Wild Birds (Birds Directive) (79/409/EEC) and the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c) Directive 1992 (Habitats Directive) (92/43/EEC) are relevant and have been enacted in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.
There is some legislation that deals primarily with welfare of wild animals as opposed to conservation and these are detailed below. There are no specific licences required for wildlife rehabilitation, but there are some licensing issues related to keeping and releasing of rehabilitated wildlife of which all rehabilitators should be aware.
This page provides a summary of the legislation that is pertinent to wildlife rehabilitation. It is recommended that you should refer back to original legislation for clarification, and the subsequent amendments. The BWRC would recommend the following website: http://www.statutelaw.gov.uk/ and although we would state that the legislation listed may not always be up-to-date, this website does display each act with the relevant amendments, as and when they appear.