It can be difficult to know what is or isn’t a wildlife crime and when it’s right to involve us. Wildlife and animal crime takes many forms from hare coursing, trade in endangered species, persecution of protected species to livestock worrying. Find out what is a crime and what you can do about it.

What is wildlife crime?

Wildlife crime is any activity that goes against legislation protecting the UK's wild animals and plants. It can cause pain and suffering to animals, push species closer to extinction and can be linked to other serious crimes like firearms offences and organised crime.

Wildlife law is complicated and it can be hard to know whether something is a crime and whether, or when, to involve the police. 

What is a wildlife crime?

  • poaching
  • coursing
  • persecution of badgers, birds and bats
  • egg theft and collection
  • collection of or trade in protected species and animal products
  • not registering animals which require a licence
  • taking protected plants
  • use of poisons, snares or explosives to kill or injure animals
  • animal cruelty
  • hunting with dogs
  • introducing invasive species
  • killing or capturing, damaging or destroying the habitat of any protected animal 


Surrey Police will sometimes attend hunt events to maintain order and protect life and property. We'll do this without favouring any group. This may include:

  • the investigation of alleged offences under the Hunting Act 2004
  • the facilitation of an event or lawful protest

Hare coursing

Hare coursing is illegal. There are ways to spot a hare coursing event happening or about to happen. It will:

  • usually be after harvest time (late August or early September) when large tracts of land are crop-less
  • probably happen at dawn or dusk

You could see:

  • a group of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a farmland gateway, on a grass verge, track or bridle path
  • estate cars, four-wheel drives or vans containing evidence of dogs
  • a convoy with minders' vans front and rear

If you see hare coursing, please call 101. Do not approach anyone involved.

Report it

If you think a wildlife crime is being committed then contact us, either online or by calling 101. If a crime is happening or someone is in danger, call 999. 

We’d rather you contacted us and we investigate, than not hear from you. 

You can also report wildlife crime anonymously to Crimestoppers, by calling 0800 555 111.

Road traffic incidents involving animals

If you hit a dog, horse, cow, pig, goat, sheep or donkey (or a mule) then you must report that to us, whether the animal is killed or not.

If you hit a wild animal accidentally and you can't take it to a vet immediately or safely, you need to contact us on 101, as allowing a wild animal to suffer is an offence.

Hitting a wild animal deliberately is an offence under the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act.

If you hit and kill a wild animal, you must leave it safely by the roadside and notify the local council so they can remove the remains. Some wild animals are protected and it is an offence to possess one, dead or alive.

If you come across animals loose on the road and there’s a danger to traffic, call 999

Other crimes involving animals 

We work with the RSPCA to investigate animal cruelty. To report cruelty, neglect or abuse, you can go to the RSPCA's website or call them on 0300 1234 999 (lines open 24 hours a day).

Livestock worrying and theft are offences and must be reported to us. You can do that online or by calling 101.

Incidents involving dogs, either a dog that's out of control in a public place, a breed of dog that's been banned or dog fighting, must be reported to us, either online or by calling 101.