New UK legislation regarding WC European animals

caleb

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Following European Courts of Justice judgements against the UK, ruling that the UK interpretation of the Habitats & Species directive was incorrect, a new law is being introduced as of 21st August 2007.

It's known that WC animals of some Annex IV species (e.g. T. marmoratus) have been imported into the UK from Europe in recent years, and they have become fully legal once in the UK. This law changes that- anyone keeping these animals will now have to apply for a licence. This makes UK law closer to that in the rest of Europe.

The law is The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007 No. 1843) ( http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20071843.htm ), and relates to amphibian keeping as I've summarised below.

SUMMARY

This makes it a criminal offence to possess or trade in wild-caught animals of the species listed in Annex IV of the EC Habitats & Species Directive. Penalties are up to 6 months in prison and/or a fine of up to £5000.

Specimens 'lawfully taken from the wild' are exempt from this offence. This applies to specimens taken outside the EC, taken before the Habitat & Species Directive came into effect on 10 June 1994, or taken from a member state before it became an EC member state. They must also have been taken legally according to the law of the state concerned.

I am unsure if F1 CB animals are covered by this, as the offence applies to 'anything derived from such an animal'- it could be argued that this applies to F1 offspring. F2+ animals are exempt by definition.

For both these exemptions, the onus is on the person accused of an offence to prove that their animals were 'lawfully taken' or captive bred.

Anyone currently keeping animals covered by these regulations will have to apply to Natural England for a licence to continue keeping them. DEFRA have stated that there will be a three month grace period after the regulations come into force, to give people time to apply for licences.

The amphibian species concerned are (from the latest amendment of Annex IV, at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:363:0368:01:EN:HTML )

CAUDATA
Chioglossa lusitanica
Euproctus asper
Euproctus montanus
Euproctus platycephalus
Mertensiella luschani (Salamandra luschani)
Salamandra atra
Salamandra aurorae
Salamandra lanzai
Salamandrina terdigitata
Triturus carnifex (Triturus cristatus carnifex)
Triturus cristatus (Triturus cristatus cristatus)
Triturus italicus
Triturus karelinii (Triturus cristatus karelinii)
Triturus marmoratus
Triturus montandoni
Triturus vulgaris ampelensis
Proteus anguinus
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) ambrosii
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) flavus
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) genei
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) imperialis
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) strinatii (Hydromantes (Speleomantes) italicus)
Hydromantes (Speleomantes) supramontes

ANURA
Alytes cisternasii
Alytes muletensis
Alytes obstetricans
Bombina bombina
Bombina variegata
Discoglossus galganoi (including Discoglossus "jeanneae")
Discoglossus montalentii
Discoglossus pictus
Discoglossus sardus
Rana arvalis
Rana dalmatina
Rana graeca
Rana iberica
Rana italica
Rana latastei
Rana lessonae
Pelobates cultripes
Pelobates fuscus
Pelobates syriacus
Bufo calamita
Bufo viridis
Hyla arborea
Hyla meridionalis
Hyla sarda

COMMENT

I suspect the listing of T. marmoratus may include T. pygmaeus, as the two were considered the same species at the time of listing.

T. dobrogicus is not listed, despite being an Annex II species (which requires member states to designate 'Special Areas of Conservation' for the species).
 
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Mark

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Thank you for highlighting this.

So, how does one prove an animal is captive bred? What if you don’t know who the breeder is because they were purchased through a trader? When I sell a cb animal listed above what do I need to provide?
 

rigsby

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just what i was thinking Mark as i have a few on that list. Ive contacted Jim foster at naturai England and await his reply..
 

caleb

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So, how does one prove an animal is captive bred? What if you don’t know who the breeder is because they were purchased through a trader? When I sell a cb animal listed above what do I need to provide?

DEFRA have provided some supplementary information here:
http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/ewd/habitats-qa2.htm

They suggest 'documentary evidence' as an example of what should be used to prove captive bred status, and that if a case is brought to prosecution, that 'the accused need only show the lawful origin of the specimen on the balance of probabilities, rather than to the prosecution’s standard of beyond reasonable doubt'.

In practice, for a prosecution to be brought, the police would have to suspect that the law had been broken, and would have to convince the CPS that the prosecution would be likely to succeed. If you have 'documentary evidence' to show to the police that your animals are captive bred, or lawfully acquired, then it's extremely unlikely that you'd be prosecuted.

My suggestion would be that anyone keeping Annex IV species should keep records of the origin of their animals, in as much detail as possible. Anything that could identify the individual animals might help, too.

I'd also recommend, if you're selling Annex IV animals, that you state in your advert that they're exempt from the Regulations, and give the reason why.

Anyone buying Annex IV species would be wise to get as much information from the seller as they can, in writing if possible, about the origin of their animals- this is good practice, anyway.
 

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I've very pleased by this. I know it will make life difficult for many honest keepers for a while, and I sympathise. However there are several British individuals who engage in illegal collection. I have corresponded with one that used to travel to France and Spain to collect animals for sale back in the UK (get the ferry on a Friday and drive back on Sunday). They would take "orders" before going that weekend. I very much want to name him but I personally have no proof (and stupidly never kept the relevant correspondance in which this person was bending over backwards to get me to "order" some Triturus marmoratus from him, and then explained exactly what he would do to fill said "order").

I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Caleb Leeke for posting this here - you are a gentleman.
 
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