The following is current policy:-

As a known taxidermist or dealer (by known it is meant as :- practicing; regularly trade as; trade in now and then;) your requirements are more precise. Once you have sold an item, you have shown your intent and the powers that be can then say "as you have sold already, you are now a trader". If this is the case, then there are certain criteria that must be observed and definitions of the law can take on a new angle - the most important being possession. The easiest way of explaining these criteria is to take the reader through each step from finding a specimen to selling it using a protected species as an example. Before we do that however, let us start by describing the type of business you are involved in:

There are two types of taxidermist:-

  1. a) One who handles specimens solely for and on behalf of their client, where no sale or trade is entered into but a charge is made for the work involved. (Commissions)
  2. b) One who handles specimens speculatively and sells or makes a commercial gain at a later date.

Taxidermist (a) (solely dealing with commissions) does not and will not require licenses. (He or she is not selling anything). - It is the client’s specimen and the taxidermist is charging a commission fee for the work undertaken.

Taxidermist (b) will require licenses as he or she is receiving specimens (speculatively) and selling them at a later date. - A sale or trade will be entered in to at some time and the specimens you are holding are being "kept for sale".

Most modern taxidermists are a mixture of both with one or other priority.

The laws of possession then enter a "grey" area. - and can be looked upon as similar to say the drug laws, where the odd specimen can be held for own use but if you are a known trader anything that you hold is deemed as potentially for sale. So as a Taxidermist/Dealer everything in your possession must be accounted for and if applicable a licence obtained. To set up as a Taxidermist or Dealer the following is best practice:-

(1) A Log Book. - Either a ledger type book or preferably an A4 sheet for each specimen in a ring binder;  2) A supply of Licence application forms (FED 1012 - available on the APHA website); 3) A supply of blank card type tags (available at stationary stores) to attach to each specimen; 4) A supply of printed labels for specimen details (proof of legality) which can be attached to base or case:

On receiving or finding your first dead specimen (eg. Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) the first thing is to convince yourself that the specimen died legally. ie. was not shot, trapped, poisoned etc - (this is a must for any protected species) - a good and most common example would be a road casualty. Your Log book/sheet should then be completed with:- Name/address of donor (yourself if you found it),; Cause of death; date of death; nearest town/vicinity of where found (if road casualty); Age (aprox if known); Sex (if known);
- or you may receive a specimen from a breeder or falconer etc, in which case details of captivity ie. Ring number, hatch date, micro-chip number and any parental details are needed as well as details of the breeder/Falconers Art 10 licence if they SOLD that particular bird to you*.
- You may also have received a specimen from another taxidermist - in which case give details of his/her log number and if t's an Annex A species and sold to you, details of the taxidermist Art 10 licence to sell that specimen.
- Also if imported give details of any import documents.

The next step is to allot your own unique reference number to that and each specimen.

NOTE: Specimens that have been GIFTED to you by either a member of the public or a breeder.falconer etc - if possible get a gifting letter from that person. This is in the best interest of both parties, confirming that the finder/breeder/falcon did not charge you for the specimen (if they did then they would require a Art 10 licence to sell the dead specimen) and also that you did not pay for the specimen (This is also an offence to PURCHASE a specimen knowing it required an Art 10 from the seller)

* NOTE: for Annex "A" specimens received from a Falconer or breeder. A popular misconception when buying a carcase - for example a Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) - from a falconer is that the breeder’s permit (it is an Article 10) allows the falconer to sell the dead bird. THIS IS NOT THE CASE - the breeder’s certificate only covers the LIVE bird and is void once the bird dies. To sell the carcase the Falconer or breeder must apply for an article 10 licence to sell the DEAD bird. A tag is then fitted to the specimen (giving your log No.) confirming that this is the specimen relating to that log entry/sheet. The tag must stay with the specimen at all times, even when mounted and or displayed. If required, a licence to sell (or keep for sale), must now be obtained (check with APHA - or the CITES database on if your species requires a licence) - If the species is listed Annex "A" and requires a licence, then you must fill in a licence application form. (Form & Guidance is given on the APHA Website.

(If the species is solely listed under The WCA General Licence, no application is necessary).

The WCA General Licence WML GL17 (as from 01/01/2011) (previously WML GL22 formerly WLF 100096) and others - allow you and everybody in the land to handle and sell dead wild birds (those listed on the WCA) providing you can prove - or satisfy any questions asked - that the specimen was legally obtained, hence the log book/sheet above. You must also advise Natural England of any sales made in any calendar year (prior to 31st December). Although this licence covers all birds listed WCA when it comes to Birds of Prey/Owls etc you also require the Article 10 permit as described with our Tawny Owl above.

Once you have prepared the specimen and are ready to sell it, your licence should be with you (it takes 3 to 4 weeks to process an application). Do not sell or advertise for sale before you have the licence (Article 10 for species covered by EC Regulations). With each sale (whatever type of licence is necessary - General Licence; Schedule 5 or Article 10) the criteria is always the same, and that is:-

"proof of legality must accompany any sale". This means you must give the buyer full details of acquisition. This is either done via a label on the case/base or in some cases even a covering letter/certificate. Log No.; Cause of death; Date of acquisition; age; sex; and licence number must be given. If, in the case of a Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) you have applied for an Article 10 Transaction Licence, there is no legal requirement for you to pass that licence on to the buyer (in fact you MUST return the licence to APHA as soon as you sell the specimen) . You MUST however give the buyer the licence number (the one in the top right hand corner). If, on the other hand you have applied for an Article 10 Specimen Specific Licence, (specimen fitted with micr0-chip in brain cavity) you MUST pass that licence on to the buyer (it will allow him or her to on sell without further applications)

As stated, once you have sold the specimen you must advise APHA or Natural England that you have done so. If, in the case of a Tawny Owl (Annex "A" species with Article 10 licence) - soon after the sale when you return the licence. In the case of species covered by the WLCA general licence - by the end of that trading year (31st December). When sending in your returns for WLCA species remember to include all those U.K. species sold under Article 10 (they are still covered by the WLCA as well).

Trading in Annex "B" (EC Regs) specimens. - if a species is listed on EC Regs Annex B or C, it means that a specimen can be traded within the EU free of licence/restriction. (you may be asked where you acquired the specimen and if imported from outside the EU you may be asked to provide Import documents). Many taxidermists receive such species from breeders/zoos etc. Such species as foreign birds - Parrots; Owls etc are so listed as well as the African Lion (Panthera leo). These species may well be common in captivity and often traders forget or do not bother to get full details (they tend to think as it does not need a licence, what's the point). The point can be quite important. CITES and therefore EC Regs have a habit of moving species around the listings. What is listed Annex B today could well be upgraded to Annex A tomorrow. A case in point is the African Lion - at present this is listed CITES Apx 11 and EC Regs Annex B. At the last CITES Conference an attempt was made to upgrade the Lion to CITES Apx 1 which would mean it moving to EC Regs Annex A. This time it was unsuccessful - but future attempts may well succeed. Therefore you have a Annex B specimen in your freezer which overnight becomes Annex A. Suddenly you need to acquire a licence and to get that you will need to provide full details of birth; death and the last time it went to the loo.

The other problem with Annex B and C species is when you sell outside of the EU. A common Parrot species may not require a licence to sell within the EU but will require Export licence's when trading for example with Australia or anywhere else outside the EU. To raise an Export licence you will need to produce full details of that specimen. So best policy is to treat all protected species the same and get full acquisition details.

Some traders sell items through retail outlets or Auction Houses, who work on a sale or return basis. The Auction House or retail outlet is therefore:-

Acting as agents. Providing you are acting solely as an agent (you are selling an item on behalf of a client) and ownership remains the clients, you as an agent can trade that item under the owners licence. (However, do make sure the owner has the licence in place).

Trading in protected mammals/others. - NON CITES (ENGLAND Only)

Certain species of Mammal, Reptile, Amphibians; Insects etc are covered by the WCA under Schedule 5. These species will require a Schedule 5 sales licence (whatever their age - even an antique). This is acquired by writing to Natural England. Certain species such as Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and Pine Marten (Martes martes) as from 01/01/2008 are covered by a General Licence (WML GL19). Other species of Mammals still requiring individual licenses under this Act include: Dolphins, Porpoises & Wales along with reptiles such as Sand Lizard; Smooth Snake; Natterjack Toad & Gt. Crested Newt plus some insects.

In Scotland, Wales & Nthn Ireland, different licensing laws may exist - so it is worth contacting the appropriate authority (see Advice page)

Habitats Regs

All UK Bats; Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius); Otter (Lutra lutra) & Scottish Wild Cat (Felis silvestris) are also covered by The Habitats Regulation and will require a possession licence if originating after 1994. Sales of specimens acquired after 1994 will usually be allowed only for Educational/Scientific purposes and a licence will be required. Specimens originally acquired (died) prior to this date no longer require a licence under The WCA. Otter & Scot. Wild Cat will however still require an Article 10 if after 1947. - Again Scotland, Wales & Nthn Ireland have their own regulations.

Certainly in Scotland, an individual licence will be required for those species listed Habitats and WCA - Inc. Red Squirrel and Pine Marten - and Scotland has no Class Licence system - so taxidermists north of the border need to liaise with SNH.

NOTE:  Natural England, after a recent public consultation plan to issue new General licenses/Class Licenses covering taxidermy in 2016. Watch these pages for further developments.



Disclamer: This company or individual cannot accept any responsibility for information given that is either misinterpreted by the author or the recipient and which is based either on experience gained or a matter of law where the precedence is yet to be decided by a court of law. Any information or guidence given is purely an opinion, therefore it is recommended that accredited legal advise is sought where appropriate.

© 2016 Taxidermy Law