Wildlife licensing

A wildlife licence is required if you want to disturb or remove protected wildlife or damage protected resting places in Northern Ireland.

When do I need a licence?

Licenses to disturb protected animals are issued for a strict list of reasons and available:

  • to prevent damage to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, property or archaeology
  • to protect public health and safety (including air safety)
  • to carry out maintenance and development of land
  • for science, education and conservation
  • to prevent disease among species
  • to keep or release non-native species
  • to sell, own, exhibit or transport protected species

The activities you can get a licence for vary from species to species

You could be fined up to £5000 per offence and get up to six months in prison if you don't have a licence.

Please also note it is your responsibility to return your licence reports and renew your licence, this doesn't happen automatically.

Wildlife licence application forms

These licenses require an application to be submitted. There is no fee for these licenses.

Check that your activity is not covered by our General Licences below.  Licences for all other activities not involving European Protected Species (EPS) are applied for on the form for a standard wildlife licence.  Work on bats or otters maybe applied for on the EPS forms below.

European Protected Species licenses

Bats

Otters

General licences

General licences permit authorised persons to carry out actions that would otherwise be illegal. They cover certain types of activity relating to birds, such as preserving public health or air safety, and preventing the spread of disease. General licences cover situations that are regarded as relatively commonplace and where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact.

General licences avoid the need for people to apply for individual licences for these specific circumstances.  General licences are still subject to strict conditions, and abuse of them or failure to comply with the conditions could constitute an offence.

General licence are issued annually. You can download the licences below or obtain a hard copy from the NIEA wildlife team.

All general licences are subject to certain conditions of use. If you plan to act under the authority of a general licence, you must:

  • be eligible to do so (see conditions of each licence)
  • comply with the terms of the relevant licence and therefore the law

These licences do not give any right of access or right to take action to otherwise unauthorised persons. You should read a copy of the relevant licence in addition to the information below before undertaking any action

General licences downloads

Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of preserving public health or public safety

Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of preventing the spread of disease and preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber and fisheries

Kill or take certain birds, including the taking, damaging or destruction of their eggs, or the disturbance of such a bird or the young of such a bird for the purpose of conserving wild birds

Mallard eggs licences

This licence, granted under Article (18)(2)(b) permits an authorised person to take first clutch mallard eggs and to have, in their possession, such eggs and any birds hatched from such eggs.

This licence, granted under Article (18)(2)(b) permits any person to have in their possession mallard eggs for incubation or live mallard ducks for release in the wild.

General licenses are issued annually and permit 'authorised persons' to carry out actions that would otherwise be illegal. They cover certain types of activity relating to birds such as preserving public health or air safety and preventing the spread of disease.

General licenses cover situations where there is unlikely to be any great conservation impact. However, these are still subject to strict conditions and abuse of them or failure to comply with the conditions could constitute an offence.

Additional information for certain wildlife licenses

Birds of Prey:  Under the terms of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 it is necessary for any person wishing to keep a bird of prey which is ordinarily resident in, or is a visitor to, the European territory of any member state to be in possession of a licence issued by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

To apply for a licence to hold birds of prey, use the standard application form.

Cormorants:  For the Purpose of Preventing Serious Damage to Fisheries: a licence to shoot cormorants, information for those owner/operators requiring licences to protect their inland fishing interests.

To apply for a licence to shoot cormorants, use the standard application form.

Photography:  Guidance for those wishing to undertake photography of protected birds and animals. The welfare of the subject being photographed must always take precedence over the desire or need to obtain a photograph.

To apply for a licence to undertake photography of protected species, use the standard application form.

Apply online

You can also Apply online for a wildlife licence.

Back to top