Animal Welfare Act 2006

The Animal Welfare Act does not cover wild animals living in the wild, but under Section 2 of the Act, any animal that is under the temporary control of man, is a protected animal:

  Animal Welfare Act, 2006, Section 2, “Protected Animal”

  An animal is a “protected animal” for the purposes of this Act if -

  (a) it is of a kind which is commonly domesticated in the British Islands,

  (b) it is under the control of man whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or

  (c) it is not living in a wild state.

Therefore, any wild animal taken in for the purposes of rehabilitation becomes a protected animal, and as such, deserves a duty of care as defined in Section 9 of the Act. This duty of care defines an animal’s needs as:

  • its need for a suitable environment
  • its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
  • any other need of that animal

More details of how this legislation affects wildlife rehabilitators can be found in a booklet produced by the RSPCA, which is available to download from their website: