The purpose of section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (‘the Act’) is to prevent the release into the wild of certain plants and animals which may cause ecological, environmental, or socio-economic harm.
To achieve this section 14 prohibits the introduction into the wild of any animal of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in, and is not a regular visitor to, Great Britain in a wild state, or any species of animal or plant listed in Schedule 9 to the Act. In the main, Schedule 9 lists non-native species that are already established in the wild, but which continue to pose a conservation threat to native biodiversity and habitats, such that further releases should be regulated. The Schedule also includes some native species (e.g. the barn owl) in order to provide a level of control to ensure that releases, in particular re-introduction programmes, are carried out in an appropriate manner and biodiversity is properly safeguarded.
This document represents the views of Defra and the Welsh Assembly Government on the meaning of key elements that make up the offences in section 14; it does not, therefore, represent a definitive interpretation of the law. Nor is it necessarily exhaustive as regards each issue but, nevertheless, it is intended as guidance for enforcement agencies, licensing authorities and other interested parties in England and Wales.