Wildlife licence (Northern Ireland)

Apply for this licence

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Contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for a wildlife licence if you want to carry out a ‘prohibited activity’ in relation to wild birds or animals.

‘Prohibited activity’ includes:

  • intentionally killing, injuring or taking wild birds or animals
  • disturbing birds or animals in their nest or home
  • taking, damaging or destroying a nest or home while it’s in use
  • having any wild bird or protected wild animal in your possession

When you don’t need a licence

You don’t need a licence to kill or take the following birds or eggs, if they’re a serious threat to agriculture or fisheries, or public health or safety:

  • wild and wood pigeons
  • crows and rooks
  • great and lesser black backed gulls
  • herring gulls
  • magpies and jackdaws
  • house sparrows and starlings


You can only get a licence for:

  • scientific or educational purposes
  • photography
  • disease prevention or public health and safety reasons
  • ringing and marking eggs, birds and animals, or examining their rings or marks
  • conservation
  • protecting a zoological collection or a collection of wild birds
  • falconry or bird breeding
  • public exhibitions or competitions
  • selling dead wild birds and animals (taxidermy)
  • prevention of damage to agriculture and fisheries

The licence will say what birds or animals it covers, and where and when you can carry out the activity. It will say how long it lasts.

You might have to send reports on your activity to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. If so, the licence will tell you what reports you must send.

How to apply

Contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

You may have to pay a fee - this can be different from council to council.

You may also have to provide other documents, for example:

  • written agreement from the landowner
  • details of your experience, eg past photographic work

You must give details of any previous convictions for wildlife offences.

Fines and penalties

If you carry out a prohibited activity without a licence, you can be fined up to £5,000 or imprisoned for up to 6 months.

Any vehicle, bird, animal, nest or egg in your possession, and any vehicle, weapon or anything else you used to commit the offence can be taken away.