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Wildlife Licence Northern Ireland (NIEA)

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) issue wildlife licences in Northern Ireland. This guide explains the process for getting a wildlife licence in Northern Ireland.

NIEA WILDLIFE LICENCE: You need legal authorisation to kill or disturb wild animals and birds in Northern Ireland. The Natural England wildlife licence follows a different process in England.

Contact NIEA for a wildlife licence to carry out a ‘prohibited activity‘ in Northern Ireland. NIR prohibited activities include:

  • The intentional killing, injuring, or taking of wild birds or animals.
  • Disturbing animals in their home or birds in their nest.
  • Removing, destroying, or damaging a home or a nest while it is in use.
  • Being in possession of any protected wild animal or wild bird.

Some Northern Ireland wildlife and biodiversity laws mean you do not need a permit. You can kill or take birds or eggs in this list if they are a serious threat to agriculture, fisheries, safety, or public health:

  • Crows, rooks, herring gulls, great and lesser black backed gulls.
  • House sparrows, starlings, magpies, jackdaws, and wild or wood pigeons.

Northern Ireland Wildlife Licence Restrictions

The licence states which birds or animals it covers. It also shows where and when you can carry out the activity without prohibition.

Wildlife Licence Northern Ireland (NIEA)Even though it says how long it lasts you can only get a NIR wildlife licence for:

  • Conservation
  • Disease prevention or public health and safety reasons
  • Falconry or bird breeding
  • Photography
  • Prevention of damage to agriculture and fisheries
  • Protecting a zoological collection or a collection of wild birds
  • Public exhibitions or competitions
  • Ringing and marking eggs, birds and animals:
    • Includes examining their rings or marks
  • Scientific or educational purposes
  • Selling dead wild birds and animals (taxidermy)

Note: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency often ask for reports on your activity. In this case the wildlife licence tells you which reports to send in.

How to Apply for NIEA Wildlife Licence

The first step is contacting the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Depending on which council handles your application there may be a fee. In some cases they will ask you to provide other documents which may include:

  • A written agreement from the landowner.
  • Details of your past experience in the field (e.g. previous conservation or photographic work).

Note: Northern Ireland environmental laws require notification of any previous convictions for wildlife offences.

Prohibited Activity Fines and Penalties

It is against the law to carry out a prohibited activity without an official licence. Doing so can result in a fine up to £5,000 or a prison sentence for up to 6 months. It can also result in the confiscation of:

  • Any vehicle, bird, animal, nest or egg in your possession.
  • Any vehicle, weapon or anything else you used to commit the offence.

Application of NIEA Wildlife Licence

The wildlife team of NIEA are responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) (NI) Order 1995 and aspects of Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations (NI) 1995 (as amended).

The Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 (as amended) is equivalent to Part I of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 in England and Wales and the Wildlife Act 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 in the Republic of Ireland.

This order gives NIEA the power to issue licences to permit otherwise prohibited action to be taken to resolve problems where there is no other satisfactory solution.

The licensing system safeguards the conservation and welfare of wild animals but provides a way to allow action to be taken when necessary. Click to complete the online application for a wildlife licence from Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Apply for Wildlife Licence Northern Ireland