Taxidermy Law in the UK
In the UK, all animals are protected by some law and some that are rare or endangered, have additional protection. However, everyone has a 'general licence' to keep most birds and animals as long as they were obtained legally.
Nevertheless, the law in the UK keeps changing. The governing bodies add new laws and constantly change these, some retrospectively, so it is very complex. I have listed some basic information and how to get some help below, but you need to check with the following authorities to be 100% sure of any issue:
I am glad people do enquire as to the origin of the items used in our trade. Our world has a big problem with the destruction of wildlife and its habitat. We all need to look after this planet if we want future generations to enjoy the diversity we are currently privileged to.
The vast majority of the items I get in are killed by the British public (albeit indirectly and this may make you think):
- The Independent reported in 1994 that "a minimum of 30 million birds are killed on Britain's roads every year. Depending on the assumptions made in the statistical analysis, the death rate could be even higher: 70 million a year is not impossible."
- The Mail Online reported that 275 million animals are killed by domestic cats each year.
- The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) estimated in 2004 that there are 100 million bird strikes each year, of which a third are fatal, ie. one in three die. See Eartheasy's ideas on how to help stop this.
- NBC News reported in 2011 that "tens of millions of flamingos, storks, pelicans and other migratory birds are being killed across the world when they fly into power lines, according to a new study".
- Mail Online reported in 2013 that hundreds of sea birds are killed by oil and chemical pollution.
- World Animal Protection reported on illegal (and legal) fishing threatening wildlife.
- Many are trapped/killed by discarded refuse (I even had a Little Owl killed by a golf ball). See this shocking Youtube video on how Plastic Kills.
- Thousands displaced/killed due to new housing development - Local Extinction.
- Thousands killed by pesticides - eat organic; it's not just yourself that will benefit.
- Considerable number killed by radiation from transmitter masts - one client working at a station found about thirty goldfinches which was probably the whole flock.
The above gives you a good idea of some of the causes of death. There are more items dying of natural causes or (killed by man as above) each day than all taxidermists in the UK could ever do.
The only way a good taxidermist can work is to have a great love and respect for the beauty of the world's creatures. Many taxidermists, myself included where possible, help charities supporting wildlife. If you are concerned about wildlife, look after the planet and its habitat. The natural environment and wildlife will do what it does best and look after itself.
You & The Law
The laws concerning the purchase or possession of natural history specimens can be a little confusing. Should you come across a protected dead wild creature (ie. everything except game birds shot in season and certain pest species) and wish to have it preserved, you must consider how the subject met its death.
Once you are satisfied that the cause of death was not illegal, make a note of all circumstances surrounding the death then contact your taxidermist. If you are unable to ascertain the cause, the information you have can help your taxidermist to decide if your specimen can be mounted.
The taxidermist must have this information to hand if it is requested by an authorised person.
Purchasing Birds & Mammals
It would be unwise to purchase modern taxidermy that has no label or marker referring to the taxidermist and their record number. If you purchase an unmarked specimen you will have no way of proving that it was acquired legally.
Certain British species are protected because of their rarity and these must have a permit to be sold. Endangered foreign species are covered by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and need permits. As the status of any specimen and legislation can change in the future, it is wise to keep a record of any item in your possession.
I hold stocks of both frozen and ready mounted specimens, and must be able to provide full information for each specimen. All my items carry full data/licence and will comply with current legislation.
Any person bringing me an item will need to complete a log sheet. Like any respectable taxidermist, our log books are always available to the authorities to inspect.
Taxidermists can download my log sheet in Word format for free and amend to suit. This was shown to the RSPB and the DETR in about 2004 and meets with their approval as a standard log sheet:
In the UK, any taxidermist wishing to sell a protected item must be registered with DEFRA and/or APHA, and obtain an Article 10 Licence (A10) to sell any item falling into the current perimeters of the law for that specimen.
If you wish to sell an item of taxidermy, you may need to apply for an A10 for the item. The above log sheet contains the typical amount of information required (namely, the specimen's origin) to make the application.
If the item is obviously an antique, it may be exempt from some of the legislation, but it is advisable that you check.
When a protected item requiring an A10 is sold, I give a copy of the A10 with the specimen to the buyer and return the original A10 to APHA.
If you are wanting to take an item out of the UK, you must check with the laws in your own country that you can import the item. Typically, they will want to see a copy of any Article 10 Licence.
An export licence may also be needed at this end, but I can sort that out.
For more information on taxidermy law and import/export laws, see Taxidermy Law.
A label needs to be fixed to any protected item sold in the UK.