Protection of Birds Act 1954

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1954 c. 30


Protection of Birds Act , 1954

(2 & 3 Eliz. 2) CHAPTER 30

An Act to amend the law relating to the protection of birds.

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Protection of wild birds, their nests and eggs.

1 Protection of wild birds, their nests and eggs.

1. If, save as permitted by or under this Act, any person wilfully—

a ) kills, injures or takes, or attempts to kill, injure or take any wild bird; or
b ) takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use; or
c ) takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird

or if any person has in his possession or control any wild bird recently killed or taken which is not shown to have been killed or taken otherwise than in contravention of this Act or any order made thereunder, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and, if that offence is committed in respect of a bird included in the First Schedule to this Act or in respect of the nest or egg of such a bird, shall be liable to a special penalty.

S-2 Exceptions to s. 1 with respect to certain wild birds, nests and eggs.

2 Exceptions to s. 1 with respect to certain wild birds, nests and eggs.

(1) Except in Scotland on Sundays and on Christmas Day or in a prescribed area on Sundays, an authorised person shall not be guilty of an offence under section one of this Act by reason of the killing or taking of, or an attempt to kill or take, a wild bird included in the Second Schedule to this Act, or by reason of the injuring of such a bird in the course of an attempt to kill it.

(2) Except in Scotland on Sundays and on Christmas Day or in a prescribed area on Sundays, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under section one of this Act by reason of the killing or taking of, or an attempt to kill or take, a wild bird included in the Third Schedule to this Act outside the close season for that bird, or by reason of the injuring of such a bird outside that season in the course of an attempt to kill it.

(3) Except in Scotland on Sundays and on Christmas Day, an authorised person shall not be guilty of an offence under section one of this Act by reason of the taking, damaging or destruction of a nest if that nest is in use by a wild bird included in the Second Schedule to this Act, or by reason of the taking of an egg of a wild duck, wild goose or swan if it is shown that the egg was taken for the purpose of causing it to be hatched.

(4) Except in Scotland on Sundays and on Christmas Day, a person shall not be guilty of an offence under section one of this Act—

(a ) by reason of the taking or destruction of an egg of a wild bird included in the Second Schedule to this Act or of any other common wild bird which the Secretary of State may by order made with respect to the whole or any specified part of Great Britain prescribe for the purposes of this paragraph; or

(b ) by reason of the taking for the purpose of human consumption or of use as food for poultry, ornamental ducks, ornamental geese or swans, otherwise than from any area which the Secretary of State may by order specify for the purposes of this paragraph, of an egg of a black-headed gull or common gull; or

(c ) by reason of the taking or destruction of an egg of a lapwing before the fifteenth day of April in any year.

(5) In subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the expression ‘prescribed area’ means any administrative area in England or Wales which the Secretary of State may by order prescribe for the purposes of those subsections respectively.

(6) In subsection (2) of this section, the expression ‘close season’ means—

(a ) in the case of capercaillie and (except in Scotland) woodcock, the period in any year commencing with the first day of February and ending with the thirtieth day of September;

(b ) in the case of snipe, the period in any year commencing with the first day of February and ending with the eleventh day of August;

(c ) in the case of wild duck and wild geese in or over any area below high water mark of ordinary spring tides, the period in any year commencing with the twenty-first day of February and ending with the thirty-first day of August;

(d ) in any other case, subject to the provisions of section nine of this Act, the period in any year commencing with the first day of February and ending with the thirty-first day of August:

Provided that the Secretary of State may by order made with respect to the whole or any specified part of Great Britain vary the close season for any wild bird specified in the order, so, however, that no such order shall prescribe a close season for any bird in any area commencing on a date later or ending on a date earlier than that which would have been applicable in the case of that bird in that area if this proviso had not been passed.

S-3 Power to establish bird sanctuaries.

3 Power to establish bird sanctuaries.

(1) With a view to the creation of bird sanctuaries, the Secretary of State may by order make provision with respect to any area specified in the order providing for all or any of the following matters, that is to say—

(a ) that any person who, within that area, at any time wilfully kills, injures or takes, or attempts to kill, injure or take, any wild bird shall be guilty of an offence against this Act;

(b ) that any person who, within that area, wilfully takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird shall be guilty of an offence against this Act;

(c ) that any person who, save as may be provided in the order, enters into that area during any period specified in the order shall be guilty of an offence against this Act;

(d ) that where any offence against this Act, or any such offence against this Act as may be specified in the order, is committed within that area, the offender shall be liable to a special penalty:

Provided that an authorised person shall not by virtue of any such order be guilty of an offence—

(i) by reason of the killing or taking of, or an attempt to kill or take, a wild bird included in the Second Schedule to this Act, or by reason of the injuring of such a bird in the course of an attempt to kill it; or

(ii) by reason of the taking or destruction of an egg of such a bird; or

(iii) by reason of the taking of an egg of a wild duck, wild goose or swan if it is shown that the egg was taken for the purpose of causing it to be hatched; or

(iv) by reason of the baking or destruction of an egg of a lapwing before the fifteenth day of April in any year;

and the making of an order under this section with respect to any area shall not affect the exercise by any person of any right vested in him, whether as owner, lessee or occupier of any land in that area or by virtue of a licence or agreement.

(2) Before making any order under this section the Secretary of State shall consult with any local authority within whose area the area with respect to which the order is to be made or any part thereof is situated and shall give particulars of the intended order either by notice in writing to every owner and every occupier of any land included in the area with respect to which the order is to be made or, where the giving of such notice is in his opinion impracticable, by advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the district in which that area is situated, and he shall not make the order unless either—

(a ) all the owners and occupiers aforesaid have consented thereto; or

(b ) at the expiration of a period of three months from the date of the giving of the notice or the publication of the advertisement, none of those owners or occupiers has objected thereto.

(3) So much of any order made by the Secretary of State under the Wild Birds Protection Acts, 1880 to 1939, and in force immediately before the commencement of this Act as prohibits the taking or killing in any particular area of all wild birds or the taking or destruction in any particular area of the eggs of all wild birds shall be deemed to be an order duly made under this section, and subject to the provisions of this Act any person who contravenes that prohibition shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

S-4 General exceptions.

4 General exceptions.

(1) Nothing in section one or in any order made under section three of this Act shall make unlawful—

(a ) anything done in pursuance of a requirement by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries under section ninety-eight of the Agriculture Act, 1947, or by the Secretary of State under section thirty-nine of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act, 1948;

(b ) except in the case of a wild bird included in the First Schedule to this Act or the nest or egg of such a bird, anything done by virtue of any power conferred on the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries by or under the Diseases of Animals Act, 1950;

(c ) the taking of, or an attempt to take, any wild bird if the bird is taken or to be taken solely for the purpose of ringing or marking, or examining any ring or mark on, that or some other bird and then releasing it;

(d ) the killing, injuring or taking of, or an attempt to kill or take, any wild bird for the purposes of an experiment duly authorised under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876.

(2) Notwithstanding any of the provisions of section one or of any order made under section three of this Act, a person shall not be found guilty of an offence against this Act—

(a ) by reason of the killing or injuring of, or an attempt to kill, a wild bird other than a bird included in the First Schedule to this Act if he satisfies the court before whom he is charged that his action was necessary for the purpose of preventing serious damage to crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber or any other form...

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