Avian influenza

The UK is in the midst of the largest outbreak of highly pathogenic avian Influenza and there is countrywide prevention zone in place. There are rules which all captive bird keepers must adhere to in order to prevent further spread of the disease and protect captive birds from catching it.

The latest Government guidance and details of how to report suspected cases or deceased birds can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Please do not touch or pick up dead or visibly sick wild birds. Avian Influenza is a zoonotic disease which means humans can contract it if they come into direct contact with an infected bird.

If you find a dead bird on public land in Maidstone, please report it to us so we can remove it.

Injured or unwell wildlife

If you find an injured or ill animal, you should contact a wildlife rescue charity for advice or assistance. Try not to handle the animal too much and always put your safety first, especially if tending to an animal at the roadside.

There are several wildlife rescue charities in the region:

Kent Wildlife Rescue Service

106 Victoria Street
ME12 1YF

Folly Wildlife Rescue

The Broadwater Forest Wildlife Hospital
Fairview Lane
Tunbridge Wells

The Fox Project

The Lodge
Kings Toll Road
Tunbridge Wells


Baby birds

If you find a nestling that has fallen from its nest or a fledgling who is grounded, please follow the RSPCA’s advice.

Wildlife crime

Wildlife crime is any action which breaks current legislation governing the protection of the UK’s wild animals and plants.

It can cover:

  • illegal trapping of wild animals
  • intentionally injuring or maiming wildlife
  • hare coursing, fish, and deer poaching
  • hunting of wild mammals
  • illegal badger persecution including baiting, shooting, snaring, lamping, poisoning and the interference of badger setts
  • bat persecution
  • bird of prey persecution through poisoning, trapping, shooting, disturbance of nest and/or theft of chicks, egg theft/collection
  • the trade in ivory, tortoises, and other protected species covered by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) including caviar, traditional Chinese medicines, and orchids, and the non-registration of certain birds and animals that require licensing through DEFRA/Animal and Plant Health Agency if kept in captivity or sold

Wildlife crime does not include incidents involving domestic animals such as dogs (other than dogs being used to hunt mammals), cats, rabbits, budgies, etc. These should be reported under the guidance on our animal welfare page. It also does not include wild animals that have been involved in road traffic accidents because these matters are handled under our advice for injured wildlife.

Wildlife crime is usually investigated by the police and forces usually have an appointed wildlife crime officer. You can report wildlife crime to Kent Police.

On 1st September 2022 the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Wildlife and Rural Crime Strategy for 2022-2025 was launched.

The priorities are:

  • badger persecution
  • bat persecution
  • CITES issues
  • freshwater pear mussel (FWPM)
  • poaching
  • raptor persecution
  • cyber enabled wildlife crime

Further information can be found on the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) website.


Foxes are not pests but are defined as wild animals in the context of the law. To trap or injure foxes would constitute a wildlife crime offence.

Sometimes people may find foxes an inconvenience, particularly in urban areas and where their exposure to hustle and bustle causes them to become used to living in closer proximity to or approaching humans.

Dealing with problems you may have with foxes starts by seeking advice from organisations who are experts in the behaviour and care of foxes. Solving problems with foxes is not about eradicating them but learning to live with them safely and by using non-harmful deterrents.

The Fox Project is a local charity dedicated to the red fox specifically and we recommend visiting their website for advice.

Bees, wasps and hornets

Bees and wasps are often confused as some species of bee are similar in appearance.


Bees are not considered a pest and are protected by wildlife law, it is an offence to damage hives or kill bees. Bees are an incredibly important asset to the ecosystem by pollinating many native plants and garden plants to ensure their survival or being a food source for animals.

Help bees survive by planting lots of flowering plants in your gardens and avoid using insecticides. Sometimes bees can be found on the ground and a shallow drop of sugary water on a spoon can help the bee recover and get back to doing its job.

Bees are usually placid and non-confrontational creatures whose attention is primarily focussed on pollinating plants and contributing to the health of their colony. It is not in a bee’s interest to sting as, unlike wasps and hornets, they typically die after delivering their sting. Bees will only sting when they or their colony is threatened and there is no alternative option.

The Woodland Trust has a good visual and descriptive guide to the different kinds of bee on their website.

If you have identified a honey bee swarm, you can look up a local swarm collector on the British Beekeepers Association website to find a local keeper to collect the bees for you.

Wasps and hornets

Wasps and hornets are often referred to and treated as pests. This is because they have a natural tendency to sting than bees do. They do not shed their sting after delivery, and they will continue to repeatedly sting when aggravated or threatened.

Despite not being a favourable character to encounter, they do play a part in natural pest control as they will eat aphids and other bugs which can damage crops or plants.

If you are able to identify a hornet from a wasp, it can help to decide the best form of treatment for your home or business.

Wasps have a bright yellow body with black head and body markings. Workers vary in size from 1.2cm – 1.7cm.

Wasps will east small insects and aphids, but are also attracted to sweet foods and fruits. They prefer to build nests in sheltered locations with easy access to the outside, such as lofts, garages, and wall cavities. Outside they may nest in old rodent burrows, hollow trees and bushes.

Hornets are larger than wasps and bees. They can be up to 4cm in length, with dark brown and yellow markings. They:

  • have a larger head area is larger than that of wasp
  • are less aggressive than wasps but will sting and bite to defend a nest.
  • will also forage for food at dusk if weather conditions are mild. They can also be disorientated by lights, in much the same way as moths, during twilight hours
  • feed mainly on live insects such as houseflies, blow flies, caterpillars, and grasshoppers
  • will strip the bark from oak, ash, birch, lilac, rhododendron, and boxwood plants to repeatedly harvest the sap. This is known as 'girdling', and it can seriously damage the affected plants. It is not uncommon to see several hornets feeding on the plant sap at the same time
  • naturally build nests in tree cavities – although they have adapted to build nests in man-made structures too
  • scrape slithers from weathered wooden fences, buildings even telegraph poles to create a durable paper paste to construct their nests

For advice on wasp or hornet nest removal on private land, please contact a pest controller. We have a preferred pest control contractor and their details can be found our pest control page.

If you have any other animal related enquiries please email us.