Module C5. Legislation and birds of prey (UK)

Disclaimer: No part of this document shall be construed as providing legal advice. It is the individual responsibility of anyone who keeps Birds of Prey to ensure their personal compliance with any legislation in force in the jurisdiction in which they keep the Bird/s of Prey

Please read these notes carefully!

  1. This is the lesson and assessment module for ‘C5. Legislation and birds of prey’.
  2. It covers the main legislation as it applied to bird of prey keepers in the UK.
  3. You can study this module on its own, or as part of a larger course – your Raptor Awards Instructor will advise you about this.
  4. The notes and references are here to help you understand the various legislation that you must adhere to when keeping birds of prey in the UK, but you must also work with your Instructor to be sure you cover the whole topic.
  5. The lesson ‘quiz’ at the bottom of this page will help you demonstrate that you have the correct knowledge to keep a bird of prey and remain within the law. 
  6. This assessment of your knowledge (lesson quiz) will help provide evidence that you are ready to receive your Certificate from Raptor Awards

Why do I need to know about the law?

There are many laws and regulations in the UK that could affect those wishing to keep birds of prey.  These range from planning laws, legislation about noise and smell, animal welfare legislation and many more.

This short guide is intended to draw your attention to those Acts of Parliament and other regulations that are most likely to apply in respect of the welfare aspects of keeping birds of prey.

This information is only a guide and it is most important that any keeper takes responsibility for keeping their knowledge up to date, and to apply that knowledge intelligently.  The welfare of any birds of prey in your care is a legal responsibility and severe penalties have been incurred in the past for breaches affecting their welfare.

What is the relevant legislation for bird of prey keepers in the United Kingdom?

The main legislation to consider are:

  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • The Animal Welfare Act 2006

If you are keeping birds of prey for a commercial purpose that involves travelling from place to place, then you also need to know about:

  • The Live Transport by Road: Welfare Regulations

If you keep birds of prey that is open to the public for more than 7 days in any 12 consecutive months then you will also need to understand the requirements of:

  • Zoo Licensing Act 1981

If you also fly free, undertake pest control operations, provide static or flying displays, educational visits or rehabilitation then further legislation will apply to you.  Raptor Awards can provide additional higher level training for bird of prey professionals which deals with this legislation in greater detail.

Sources of information:

You have a legal responsibility to maintain your personal level of knowledge and understanding about legislation and how it might apply to you.    These sources of information can be considered as trusted sources:

  • Animal and Plant Health Agency
  • Natural England
  • Scottish Natural Heritage

Keeping up to date:

The trusted sources noted above will not contact you if te law changes so how can you keep your knowledge up to date?

  1. Join a falconry club such as the British Falconers’ Club or other large and well respected club
  2. Read specialist magazines devoted to falconry and birds of prey
  3. Engage online with authoritative forums (but be careful as most contributors are ordinary citizens with no special knowledge – use forums to keep you aware of what’s changing and then find out for yourself from one of the trusted sources noted above)
  4. Go on a proper course before getting a bird of prey or working as a keeper and then attend refresher courses of CPD (Continuing professional development) courses whenever you can



This worksheet may help you keep your notes in good order – CLICK





Back to: Keeping Birds of Prey