Wildlife and Biodiversity FAQs
Can I bring my exotic pet onto the Island or take it overseas?
The movement of rare or endangered species is controlled internationally through CITES (the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and in the Isle of Man through the Endangered Species Act. Animals from some countries may have to pass through quarantine in the UK before entering the Island.
In order to move species (or their products) restricted under this Act, a permit must be obtained from the Department, even if a specimen was captive-bred. This includes movements between the Island and the UK. You may also need a permit from the other jurisdiction involved. In addition, the Wild Animals Act restricts the importation of scheduled animals (mainly potentially dangerous species). If you intend to move listed species across international borders or are unsure whether a species is listed, contact this Department or another appropriate CITES Management Authority for advice.
Can I remove bird nests from my house?
Late spring is a popular time for home improvements, as the weather improves. Before beginning work or booking a contractor, make sure that there are no birds nesting that would be disturbed. Species to look out for include house martins with mud cups under the eaves, swallows on beams in barns, swifts, starlings and sparrows in the edge of the roof and barn owls in larger roof spaces. If sticks have been piled up in a chimney, it is probably a jackdaw nest. Nesting birds are protected under the Wildlife Act 1990. The nests are protected whilst in use. Some bird species are also listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Act, and should not be disturbed at the nest.
If you do have birds nesting there, an adjustment of the timing of works may avoid effects on the birds during the critical breeding period. Planning ahead can avoid many problems. Also consider leaving places where birds can nest in future, whilst securing the integrity of the building's structure. If disturbance is likely, don't risk committing an offence: get advice from DEFA biodiversity officers. Old nests that are no longer being used can be removed. Note, however, that some species raise more than one clutch so the fledging of chicks may not mean that the nest is no longer in use. In this case, look out for continued activity at the nest by the parent birds.
I have found bats in the roof of my house. Can I remove them?
Having bats in your house rarely presents any problem to the occupier. You must not take any action apart from removing bats from the 'living space' of a dwelling house or taking debilitated bats into care, without first seeking advice from the Department and allowing a reasonable time for a response.
It is generally an offence to handle or kill healthy bats, or to disturb roosting bats. The roosts themselves are also protected, whether or not bats are in residence at the time. The bats must be considered when planning any work that might affect the bats or the roost and access to it. If you are having work done on your house or other buildings and find bats, stop work immediately and seek advice from the biodiversity officers in the Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate.
I suffer from gull attacks. Can I take action?
During the summer the Department receives reports of attacks by gulls. Living close to the sea, this is to be expected. It is very unusual for any injury to result, although they will pounce on the head if approached too closely. Wear a hat or hold an umbrella to protect yourself. Where there is a continuing health or safety issue, an application can be made to the Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate for actions not covered by the general licence. Biodiversity officers can advise on the use of the licence.
The situation can sometimes be avoided by stopping the feeding of gulls close by, which encourages them to remain in the area. Also, gulls can be discouraged from nesting by making it difficult for them to find a flat ledge to settle on, for instance by putting sloping surfaces on ledges or tying wires between chimney pots. Consider how you can adapt the problem area in your specific situation. Products are available that deter birds from perching on buildings. These include spiked bars and sticky paints. Pest control companies can advise on up to date products.
The gulls only attack in an attempt to protect their chicks from humans approaching too closely. As the chicks grow they also become mobile and may wander from the nest a short distance, where the parents will continue to look after them. This is the time when most problems occur. If you can avoid the nest area for the 6 weeks when the chicks are in the nest, they will then disperse and the problem will cease. Then consider whether the site can be adapted to deter nesting next year. In rare cases, further action may be necessary for public safety. A Wildlife Act General Licence for public health or public safety allows for this (see the protected species/birds page) but you are advised to notify the Department of your intention to use this licence. Officers can then advise on the actions provided for under the current licence.
I have orchids on my land. If they are destroyed, am I liable to prosecution?
All wild orchids are protected under the Wildlife Act 1990 (Schedule 7). It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly pick, uproot or destroy any wild orchid or other Schedule 7 plant. Plants are sometimes lost accidentally during otherwise lawful activities. This is taken into account by the defence that an act was 'an incidental result of a lawful action and could not reasonably have been avoided'. However, landowners can benefit from having these plants, not only by the enjoyment of having such beautiful flowers and the satisfaction of protecting the biodoversity on their land, but also by entering into a management agreement with the Department.