Inside Protect the Wild: why did we create Protectors of the Wild?

Many organisations – from wildlife charities to the police – ask us to ‘report wildlife crime’ when we see it taking place. The idea is that all of us can become ‘eyes in the field’, watching for crime or illegal persecution and helping stop it.

It’s a simple and potentially very empowering concept. The problem is putting it into practice. While we might have a rough idea, few of us really know what a wildlife crime is. Laws are often extremely complex and can be different across the UK. Exemptions and loopholes abound, and major legislation can change. On top of everything else, the information we need can be very difficult to find – and online searching often takes us to shooting or hunting websites.

We wanted to change that. So in 2023 we started to develop ‘Protectors of the Wild’. We envisaged a unique resource which would put all the information we needed in one, animal-friendly place. ‘Protectors’ would give us all the confidence we need to Recognise, Record, and ultimately Report wildlife crime and wildlife persecution.

What began by asking and answering one question – ‘What is a wildlife crime’ – led us to ask literally hundreds more.


Hundreds of questions

Over the months we’ve been writing ‘Protectors of the Wild’ we’ve essentially tried to imagine being in the field, finding ourselves in an unfamiliar situation and wanting to know, for example, precisely what UK law really says about hunting with hounds, using firearms, or destroying bird nests. What legal protection do foxes, deer, badgers, bats, and birds of prey actually have? What does the Hunting Act 2004, the Animal Welfare Act 2006, or the CRoW Act 2000 say? How would I tell if the snare or cage trap I’ve just found is being used within the law or not?

We’ve also looked at practical issues like the use of drones and mobile phones, the laws on driving quad bikes, what harassment or assault is, and what rights someone has if they’re arrested.

We’ve written forty pages now, grouped under ten headings. Each page contains a brief overview followed by FAQs – over 400 of them so far, with more being added every week!



A ‘first stop’ before seeking legal advice

Protectors of the Wild has been a massive but hugely enjoyable undertaking. We should stress here that we’re not legal professionals – think of ‘Protectors of the Wild’ as a ‘first stop’ before seeking legal advice – but we are sure that this is the most comprehensive and accurate resource of its kind on the internet. In fact, we were delighted to say that when ‘Protectors’ first went online a renowned investigator described it in a tweet as “an amazing legal resource and probably the best anywhere”.

We want to make sure ‘Protectors of the Wild’ stays that way. We are always updating and improving our information, filling gaps where they are pointed out, and listening to feedback.

As an organisation everything we do is aimed at ‘Empowering people to protect British wildlife’. We are confident that ‘Protectors of the Wild’ does exactly that, and its impact will be felt for many years to come.