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History of Animal Protection Laws

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  • 1822: Richard Martin's Act to Prevent the Cruel and Improper Treatment of Cattle was passed, making this the first Parliamentary legislation for animal welfare in the world.
  • 1835: The Protection of Animals Act made bull, bear and badger baiting, as well as cock and dog fighting illegal. However, the legislation only covered cruelty to domestic and captive animals, not wild ones.
  • 1876: The Cruelty to Animals Act was passed - but still no progress for wild animals.
  • 1911: The Protection of Animals Act was passed establishing the concept of "causing unnecessary suffering". However, this once again excluded protection for wild animals.
  • 1921: Some progress was made when it became illegal to hunt animals which do not have a "reasonable means of escape" - again covering animals regarded as captive only.
  • 1973: The "Look Out For the Badger" campaign was successful in securing the Protection of Badgers Act but, due to pressure from fox-hunters, landowners were still authorised to kill badgers.
  • 1981: Stronger legislation for badgers with the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. The facility for landowners to kill badgers is removed and penalty fines are increased.
  • 1985: The Wildlife and Countryside Act was amended to remove a loophole that those caught attacking badger setts were committing an offence unless they could prove otherwise. This is very unusual in English law as usually it is the prosecution that has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed.
  • 1991: Success in 1991 with the passing of the Badger Sett (Protection) Act.
  • 1996: The Wild Mammals (Protection) Act is passed, finally achieving basic protection for all wild mammals, although hunting remained legitimate. Also in 1996 the League joined forces with the RSPCA and IFAW to form a new "supergroup" - CPHA (The Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals).
  • 2002: Hunting is banned in Scotland!! In February the Scottish Parliament outlawed hunting with dogs. The Countryside Alliance later took this decision to court but it was thrown out. The judge dismissed the petition as incompetent, ruling that the Protection of Wild mammals (Scotland) Act does not contravene the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHB). Specifically, Lord Nimmo Smith ruled that the Act does not interfere with the private lives of the petitioners (under article 8), that there were no infringements of the ECHR relating to the control of their possessions (under Article 1 of the First Protocol of the Convention) and that it does not discriminate against the petitioners (under Article 14). However, the hunters announced they plan to appeal against the court's decision.

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About Wildlife Consultants
Laws protect badgers from being harmed and their homes damaged. Whilst permits can be issued to allow such badgers to be moved, you need to have professional research done to see where the badgers are and what they need. In commercial property development, finance and logistics can be very important. Also, if an insurance company is paying for re-building work, they may want to be certain that the commercial risks are understood too. Wildlife Consultants are usually highly experienced at dealing with such legal and commercial issues and should be able to help mitigate the risks. Wildlife consultants help deal with protected species, making sure that developers understand the law AND the needs of any animals. Local Badger Groups may also conduct badger surveys, and we run our own email-based Ask An Expert service.

RSPB Spotlight on Badgers book
James Lowen explores the lives of badgers and their communal living, feeding habits and threats to their conservation. Click here to buy:
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