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Bird licences - taxidermy, sale and possession of specimens

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 bans the possession of wild birds (dead or alive), or parts of wild birds or their eggs. However, a person is not guilty of this offence if they can show that the specimen had not been killed or taken illegally (for example, if the item had been taken before the Protection of Birds Act 1954).   Licences are therefore not necessary for someone to possess pre-1954 eggs or stuffed and mounted birds for example, but it would be your responsibility to demonstrate that the items had been taken legally should the police ask you.

It is illegal to sell or offer or advertise for sale any dead wild bird or egg except for certain species listed in Schedule 3 of the 1981 Act (and then only if certain criteria are met). Importantly, General licences 12/2015 and 13/2015  permit some trade in dead birds so long as you can satisfy their conditions. For other situations, we may be able to issue you an individual licence for possession of wild bird specimens for certain reasons like education, taxidermy or for sale.

If you wish to seek such a licence, or for further information or advice, please contact licensing@snh.gov.uk or telephone 01463 725364.