Woodland managers in Yorkshire are being urged to find out more about the latest wildlife rules unless they want to fall foul of the law.

Bats and otters are just two of the region’s endangered animals given added protection as a result of recent changes to wildlife habitat regulations. Other creatures on the European Union’s list include the dormouse and great crested newt, along with two plants, Killarney fern and Lady’s slipper orchid.

For many years it has been an offence to kill or to disturb them or to damage the habitats they depend on. However, previously people were exempt from punishment if they could prove their actions were incidental to a lawful operation such as tree thinning, and could not reasonably have been avoided. That defence has now been removed and even accidental damage to a breeding site or resting place is now an offence.

To find out more visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england-protectedspecies. The website includes detailed species guidelines and background information on the regulations.

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