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Unlimited fines or jail proposed for those who destroy wildlife

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TOUGH new laws would see those who kill protected wild animals and birds or destroy their habitats face unlimited fines or up to two years in prison, if approved by the States.

A Marsh Harrier. Picture: Mick Dryden (29198428)

Environment Minister John Young has lodged a proposition requesting Members to pass the draft Wildlife (Jersey) Law, which would create new offences designed to safeguard the natural environment, as well as the ability to designate ‘special areas of protection’ in the Island.

The law would make it an offence to:

  • Interfere with the nests and dens of certain wild birds and animals, which are ‘relied upon for breeding success’.
  • Disrupt breeding sites and resting places, including hibernation sites, of protected creatures.
  • Deliberately disturb designated wild birds and animals, regardless of whether they are near a nest or den.

For certain offences, such as killing a protected wild bird or animal, including by poisoning, or destroying a nest or breeding ground an unlimited fine would be an option for punishment, as well as a jail sentence.

The minster would also be able to temporarily or permanently designate certain ‘Areas of Special Protection’ for birds, plants and animals, under which access or certain activities would be prohibited.

The laws would also ban the ‘deliberate’ or ‘reckless’ release of invasive species into Jersey’s natural environment.

And the minister would be allowed to appoint officers specifically to control non-native wildlife that is introduced to the Island and is a threat to indigenous species.

‘The draft Wildlife (Jersey) Law empowers the minister to appoint authorised officers to carry out functions in connection with the control of INN [invasive non-native] species,’ the minister’s report says.

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‘These include powers for the purposes of investigating whether INN species are present, as well as for seizure, recording and taking samples.

‘Authorised officers are empowered to enter into species-control agreements with the owner of premises on which an INN species is present, and to take action to enforce species-control orders in the event that an owner refuses to enter into or to comply with a species-control agreement.

‘Provision is made for an appeal to be made against a species-control order, and the minister and authorised officers are required to minimise the impact of species-control operations and to ensure that they are proportionate.’

The proposition is due to be debated on 3 November.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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