Start now on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) website
You need a wildlife licence if you want to keep, breed or exhibit birds of prey in Northern Ireland.
You must apply for:
- a ‘BPL’ licence if you want to possess a bird of prey
- a ‘BPH’ licence if you want to possess a bird of prey for falconry or captive breeding purposes
- a ‘BPC’ licence if you want to breed birds of prey in captivity
- a ‘BPD’ licence if you want to exhibit birds of prey
How to apply
Apply online on the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) website.
You must provide details of any convictions for wildlife offences on your application form.
If applying for a BPH or BPL licence you must either provide details of membership of a relevant organisation, eg a falconry club, or the names of 2 referees who will vouch for your ability to handle birds of prey.
Fees and charges
Fees depend on the type of licence.
Your licence will say how long it’s valid for and any conditions you must comply with.
A BPL licence must be held for every bird that you keep and each bird must be fitted with a closed or tie ring fitted by a wildlife inspector.
NIEA may inspect premises for suitability to keep birds before granting a licence. This is a pre-condition of BPH and BPC licences. Only in exceptional circumstances will a licence be issued for premises other than your home address.
BPH licences are granted in 2 grades, trainee and general. The grade you’re given will depend on various factors, including:
- your age
- your experience of handling birds of prey
- the species of birds that you’ve handled
Trainee licence holders can only keep common buzzards or kestrels.
If you’re a trainee, your licence will usually be reviewed after 2 years, and may be upgraded to a general licence following a demonstration of your handling expertise to an NIEA wildlife inspector.
Fines and penalties
If you fail to comply with any conditions of your licence you may be fined and have your licence revoked.
You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months if you keep, breed or exhibit birds of prey without a licence.