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Home Centre for Chemical Safety & Stewardship Wildlife Incident Unit

Wildlife Incident Unit

Working closely with the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS), the Wildlife Incident Unit (WIU) plays a key role in investigating the effects of pesticides on animals, insects and the environment.

The WIU uses powerful analytical chemistry techniques to test tissue samples taken from wildlife and other animals where poisoning, through the use of pesticides, is the suspected cause of death.

During a typical year, nearly 200 cases are investigated by the WIU and nearly a third of these will be attributed to pesticides. The pesticides in many of these cases have not been used correctly and this may result in enforcement action, including a criminal prosecution for pesticide offences. This may require an expert witness statement from the WIU.

The WIU team of scientists has the capability and expertise to test for a range of pesticide compounds across many sample types such as, animal tissue, formulations and a range of environmental samples, including pollen, leaves and insects. In addition, the team is also heavily involved in research and development into new and improved methods of analysis for detecting pesticides.

If you suspect that pesticide poisoning of animals has occurred, or find evidence of illegal pesticide use that may endanger an animal please report this to the WIIS. Call 0800 321600 and discuss your suspicions and you will be advised on further action.

Please call 0800 321600 if you see:

  • any animals you suspect may have been poisoned by pesticides, due to their location, or symptoms seen
  • any spillage of a pesticide, particularly coloured seed, grain, or pellets
  • any potentially poisonous baits, such as dead animals cut open and staked out

Please try and provide the following information:

  • the location of the incident
  • the number and type of casualties, or suspected poisonous baits
  • why you believe pesticides are involved
  • your name and a contact telephone number

For further information on reporting an incident, please download the Incidents Involving Pesticides and Animals leaflet, prepared by the Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) and Defra.

Fera also participates in The Campaign Against Accidental or Illegal Poisoning of Wildlife, a government led initiative aimed at deterring the illegal and careless use of pesticides.

The Wildlife Incident Unit also participates in the Wildlife Disease and Contaminant Monitoring and Surveillance Network

If you have any questions you would like to ask the WIU directly, please email

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Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme

The Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS) investigates deaths of animals and wildlife in the UK if there is evidence to suggest that they may have been poisoned or put at risk by pesticides. In England this work is undertaken by Wildlife Management Advisers of Natural England's Wildlife Management & Licensing Service, on behalf of the CRD who are responsible for policy with regard to pesticides. For Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales see additional information below.

Enquiries into incidents often involve the Veterinary Investigation Centres of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) who undertake post mortem examinations on casualty animals. The WIU carry out pesticide analysis on samples, from England and Wales, obtained during WIIS investigations and interpret these results.

Historical WIIS information for England and Wales

All records of WIIS investigations from England and Wales are stored by the WIU. The data from 1984 to 2005 have been amalgamated into a single data set as part of a review of WIIS data. This allows an overall assessment of long-term changes in numbers of incidents and pesticides involved. See Long-term Review of WIIS Information.